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Thread: Hurricane Stories

  1. #1
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    Hurricane Stories

    Since it’s definitely in the news cycle until the next one, many of us probably have stories and impact decisions we have made through the years. I know it can be a political to many, hoping the discussions try their best to be an outer band and not the eye wall in this topic.
    That said, grew up in SE Houston after moving from SE Arkansas at the young age of four. My first experience was Carla

    https://texasarchive.org/2009_00883

    https://g.co/kgs/Jm7zK4

    My recollection was panic from my mom and boarded up windows. Hours of howling winds and water blowing under sliding glass door as the plywood shook, water up close to house and having to go next door to cook or have hot water ( our house total electric at time)
    Our neighbor had just started building out a shell home on the very bare West End of Galveston Island. We went down weeks later and as kids had no clue, but spent all day with our beach shovels removing a few inch layer of sand in that shell 11’ off the ground
    My parents joined the Galveston property ownership in ‘63 on a newly developed section of same subdivision with a canal to West Bay on filled land on top of marshland. The canal dredge was the “new land”
    We spent our youth on weekends and summers an hour and a half drive from our home in Houston.
    The roads were oyster shell and where I learned to do anything else but “ layin’ it down” as I learned to ride two wheel motorized bikes. Good times.
    I recall several storms through the years where we boarded up, took boats off the island and hoped for the best. Some minor repairs through the years , but nothing major…my parents called me from KY while on vacation when I was 20ish. “ Can’t find your brothers, go close up house , tie larger sailboat best you can, go get trailer being repaired on other one and get it to Houston” I was overwhelmed to say the least but got buddies and off we went. I learned a lot that event!

    The family luck ran out in 1981 as the first named storm, Alecia, took aim. Our house got hit with one of thirteen tornadoes confirmed in our subdivision. House on one side fine, the one to north had a orange couch and the toilet as only things left upstairs, our houses roof was in middle of street and the three walls on top of wet house contents. Never located the north wall closer to that bare deck next door. Across the canal, three more totaled houses. Most were 800 sq ft, two bedroom homes of same 63’-65’ buildup.
    I was working for the power company in Houston and was to report as soon as storm passed. I sent my young family ( twins were born in April) to my parents house that survived Carla and I spent night listening to creaking house , power went out about midnight and cedar shake roof coming off. Winds calmed at dawn, I went out to survey damage, roof and fence and bare trees. Got a blue tarp from garage and covered the huge section of missing shakes and put my Jeep in 4WD and drove the typical half hour drive to work in maybe two hours having to drive through flooded streets and over and around debris. Worked dawn to dusk the next four weeks with zero time off to take care of personal property. Goes with the lineman life!
    We rebuilt the coast house but my mom had had enough and I ended up with the deed in 1985 as my brothers and sister had zero interest. She said my day would come, still came to visit but was visually happy it wasn’t her problem.
    I had many sleepless nights and watched the Weather Channel intensely during late summer. Had a few minor issues and fights with insurance over definitions wind? water? surge vs flood? It was a headache at times and I spent most my free time 245 miles from Austin. Met H in 2005 and she had a place to the east on Point Bolivar.

    She didn’t get to retrieve any of her stuff as Crystal Beach disappeared. I have a pic of an ambulance buried with only top lights visible! Still looking.

    7C189974-BC5B-4067-9740-0C14DB5B61B2.jpg

    Only house with steel piers who knows how deep. Her house was just past this.

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    Hello 2005 hurricane season and Rita… first big one since Katrina and Houston went stupid. Original track was west end near us! I met brother and son in law to prep, all three of us loaded trucks and trailers as we listened to radio forecasts. When they said 15’ surge where we were, my heart sank and I told group everything upstairs is now under four feet of water… time to go, retreating across the pass causeway into Freeport and hopefully home in a few hours…. Ran into closed stations before getting to US 90 and I-10 past that. Everyone in area was evacuating with all vehicles, pulling everything they owned from cows to race cars. EVERYONE. Took me 10 hours to use every back road in my recall to zigzag my tired body home. Storm tracked east at last minute.
    https://www.texasmonthly.com/the-dai...-rita%2Famp%2F
    I couldn’t believe how such an evacuation could go so wrong, and I was part of it!



    https://youtu.be/l0OadwsqWLYhttps://...be/l0OadwsqWLY

    Wrapping this up and here comes 2008 and Ike

    https://www.click2houston.com/featur...outputType=amp

    https://youtu.be/l0OadwsqWLY



    Had seniority at work and no storm scramble in Austin yet. I returned to once again secure property with H and daughter and husband who were starting to use house a lot. Upon returning a week after the hit, I heard my moms voice and knew I was done. Had seven boats either under house, in yard, on fence, or where my stairs used to be. The lower floor, storage room and tiki bar kitchen were no more. The house was dry but had water blow through the storm shutter and windows. It took some time to repair as I knew I wasn’t doing anything this anymore. Sold at a loss as property values tanked post Ike, had some hurt feelings from my children ( who now understand) they weren’t in a position to take it on though we tried.

    The layers of salt grass, dead stuff, building bits and marine equipment was staggering as the whole island was under for hours. It killed the 40 year old oaks we planted as kids and had seen many storms… whatever was in all that water was too much. The saddest sight in all of that was when FEMA removed them after I tried everything to revive them.
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    Seeing the repeated damage that comes to coastal communities in the subsequent years still takes me back and puts lumps in my stomach and heart seeing folks lives changed. For some, the options are limited as that’s their life. Places can be rebuilt and lessons learned and maybe acted on. You don’t understand the mindset of trying to ride it out or staying until it’s your life. Some places will never be the same… different is what is said. Barrier islands move… cannot beat nature, you can engineer and plan better but the results often look the same in the aftermath.
    Last edited by henzilla; 10-04-2022 at 03:09 AM. Reason: Added pics
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  2. #2
    Registered User TEDZEMLICKA's Avatar
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    I was living in Houston when Alicia hit. My only hurricane experience. Much more tornado experience since moving to the midwest.

  3. #3
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    I added pics, got them ahead of story but not going to try and fix on iPhone!

    Saw more on news tonight and more sadness
    Steve Henson-Mod Team

    No one gets out alive, Live accordingly!

  4. #4

    1933 Storm of the Century

    My father's side of the family emigrated from Germany in 1933 because my Opa was on the wrong side of the politics emerging then. Our family was sponsored by Baron von Collier, of Collier County, aka the Everglades. Mr. von Collier made Opa the manager of Everglades City, which is still today basically a wide spot in the road at the end of the road.

    Just months after they arrived, the Cuba-Brownsville Hurricane, Category 5 in strength, passed through, with the northern edge of the eyewall (worst side) raking Everglades City. My dad was 3 years old at the time and the experience certainly made a big impression on him.

    Fast forward nearly 30 years to 1960, our family found itself living in a new home on the east coast in South Florida, about 6 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. As the news of Hurricane Donna began appearing, our neighbors (almost all new to Florida and having no experience with hurricanes) began putting a big "X" on each of their windows, made with masking tape.

    My dad, now 30 years old, pulled out his full system of ĺ" plywood storm shutters that he made when we moved to the house 6 months prior. He covered every window in the house.

    "Don't you think you're going a little too far?" I remember our neighbors asking my dad. And even though I was only 6 years old at the time, I remember his answer: "You don't know... you just don't know."

    The next morning everyone's picture windows and most of their others were either blown out or badly shattered. If the wind wasn't enough, coconuts are like rocket-propelled grenades.

    I've personally experienced way too many hurricanes and have a deep and abiding respect for them, and for other forces of nature.

    ------------- opinion ----------------

    Hurricanes are how the Earth deals with heat, moving it from equatorial to polar regions.

    My Opa had some amazing photos of Florida from the 1930s, it was pristine.

    Now, I know that progress has to happen, but I think it is pure insanity to allow people to build homes and condominiums right on the beach, or on the islands and sand bars that surround the state.. Not only have we destroyed the pristine beauty of Florida, we put ourselves in unnecessary danger while at the same time reducing the dunes and wetlands ability to shield the inland from hurricane forces.

    And I bet everyone whose home was destroyed will be permitted to build it back again, which is the definition of insanity.

    Ian (great name, huh?)
    Go soothingly through the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon.
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  5. #5
    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat Omega Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Visian View Post
    ------------- opinion ----------------

    Hurricanes are how the Earth deals with heat, moving it from equatorial to polar regions.

    My Opa had some amazing photos of Florida from the 1930s, it was pristine.

    Now, I know that progress has to happen, but I think it is pure insanity to allow people to build homes and condominiums right on the beach, or on the islands and sand bars that surround the state.. Not only have we destroyed the pristine beauty of Florida, we put ourselves in unnecessary danger while at the same time reducing the dunes and wetlands ability to shield the inland from hurricane forces.

    And I bet everyone whose home was destroyed will be permitted to build it back again, which is the definition of insanity.

    Ian (great name, huh?)
    Stories and opinions on the expansion of building and population are beginning to be published.

    From The Atlantic-

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/ar...santis/671630/

    Personally- I have spent a fair amount of time near or on the ocean. This time has had me realize that the ocean is powerful and doesn't know or care that I exist. I try to plan accordingly.
    With a reported less than 18% of those in Florida without flood insurance, for those effected, this will be crippling.
    I wish them the best.
    OM
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  6. #6
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    I agree on the overbuilding on basically sand bars. Galveston Island was developed as a port to handle goods and immigrants arriving to the Ellis Island of the south. You donít think of it as a barrier island like most the coast has. The 1900 storm wiped the city out and one of the outcomes was the Seawall and a major grade raising and backfilling of dredge sand.

    https://www.galvestonhistorycenter.o.../grade-raising

    Can you imagine the sights, sounds, smells, and mosquitoes after picking up the splintered city?

    My mom was a history professor and her thesis was a book about Stephen F Austinís land agent who formed the Galveston Company selling and developing the port city. His house survives to this day as a museum. We were immersed in early Texas history in our home and looked at Galveston from a different slant.

    https://www.tamupress.com/book/97808...-may-williams/

    Seeing multi story condos and hotels still being built on smaller islands headed toward the Mexico border just makes you shake your head, knowing they all have their day coming. Folks forget, new owners have no clue and the process continues. Our subdivision grew out of small fishing camps and cattle ranches in the bare marsh and salt grass prairie. After the city annexed the West End, it went crazy.

    Texas has bought out low lying areas in the past, Baytown is still sinking as oil and groundwater headed to Exxons refinery altered the geology. The Ship Channel linking H town to the Gulf also contributed. Had a friend from our West End home that were moved from Brownwood as it sank back into the bay.

    https://www.texasmonthly.com/news-po...t-two-houston/

    At some point insurance will give up and the reality of building on disappearing coastline will cause changes Until then, folks want to live on the coast and hope itís not going to happen to them.It will. As they say itís not if, itís when.
    Steve Henson-Mod Team

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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by henzilla View Post
    At some point insurance will give up and the reality of building on disappearing coastline will cause changes Until then, folks want to live on the coast and hope itís not going to happen to them.It will. As they say itís not if, itís when.
    I am not an insurance expert by any means, but I think some oceanside construction simply can't buy insurance, I guess they need to self-insure. Here is a good overview of the options. It looks like insurance companies can charge special deductibles in certain states for certain instances/categories of storms.

    Here is a quick screen grab of a place I am familiar with, south of St. Augustine. Personally, I think you are nuts to build here, even with concrete block and steel pilings. But I think building in places like this should be illegal. (Just to the south of here are miles of mansions... and I mean mansions... right on the beach.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #8
    This is nuts.... and they're selling like hotcakes.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  9. #9
    #13338 PGlaves's Avatar
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    As a person mostly from the Great Plains (North Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Texas) I have a little experience with tornadoes and blizzards but scant experience with hurricanes. However in 1985 Voni and I, (with two teenage girls as passengers) rode from Topeka, Kansas to the BMW MOA Rally in Lake Wales, Florida. Voni got the award for Long Distance Female Rider Two-Up that year. After the rally we spent a few days in the Orlando area visiting Disney World and Epcot Center. We then rode down into the Keys to Key West. We were in Key West when we began to hear predictions of a tropical storm becoming a hurricane which was going to impact Florida and the other Gulf of Mexico States.

    So, as they say, we "beat feet" north, out of there as quickly as we could. I don't recall where the system made landfall but do know that it rained on us all the way across the Florida Panhandle, Lower Alabama, and Mississippi. We stopped for supper at a Taco Bell restaurant in Biloxi, Mississippi; four people, all in bright yellow Dry Rider rainsuits, still wearing helmets, and dripping water all over the restaurant lobby. We ordered our food, and with all the southern charm a Mississippi teenager can muster, the girl behind the counter asked, "Is that for here or to go?"

    Voni and our daughter Melanie couldn't stop laughing so they went to a booth in the far corner. After we sat down they could look at the table or the food but as soon as they made eye contact they started giggling again.

    To this day, 37 years later, if I mention Taco Bell our daughter Melanie will ask, "Is that for here or to go?"
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
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  10. #10
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    Early morning on September 6 1996, Hurricane Fran hit Raleigh as a level 1 storm. Unfortunately, we had several days of rain preceding its arrival which softened the soil supporting our numerous oaks. I was finishing a trip in NY the evening before and could not find a flight to anywhere near Raleigh. I ended up flying to Philadelphia and managed to get the jumpseat on a UPS cargo flight to Charlotte, rented a car, drove to RDU, swapped into my truck and arrived home a few hours after the storm's passage. I had to park a block away as the street was blocked. My wife met me at the door of our damaged home with pink insulation in her hair. She was in the bed pictured below when the tree came through our bedroom ceiling. She, and our daughter, waited out the rest of the storm in our daughter's bedroom.

    I spent the next six weeks becoming proficient with a chainsaw. Ultimately, we ended up tearing down the entire house. I acted as architect, contractor and builder and, 14 months later, we moved into our new home. I made sure that the rebuild would have a garage. Hopefully, this will remain our home for years to come.

    Doug


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    Sent from a Galaxy, far, far away

  11. #11
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    Several insurance companies stopped issuing policies after Harvey and all of the loss around Houston. Friend had house in Katy that he fought one of those companies to cover policy.

    We had a windstorm policy on top of flood and homeowners policies. It was expensive and something you don’t realized you needed until you did. Like most insurers, they will not write a policy if a storm is in the Gulf, so there’s that. My mom reminded me every year to renew it via a pool application.

    DD546F59-C65C-461B-9E89-8385565EA0AB.jpeg

    https://www.twia.org/about-us/#what-is-twia

    And Ian, the West End of Galveston is full of those huge mansions (again) after many fell over from battering waves and wind damage from being beachfront .More are now weekend rentals and fetch stupid rates… guessing they make the cash and payments then declare a huge loss and repeat. Memories fade quickly .

    Another sight to see, especially when you think of current supply chain issues, is the huge piles of White Goods( appliances) The one on Galvez was over six stories high and wider at base. You could see it for miles They trucked and barged it out for a long time. Lost count of how many dump beds were crossing the Causeway on any given day.
    H is in the appliance business and some items are two years out!! The Home Depot type stores have buying power and can acquire things a bit quicker, quality control has flown the coup and getting parts and service on any brand is a major issue. You do what you need to do.
    There was a temporary city landfill mid island where all things got sorted for metal, the rest of the pink piles of rubble and insulation is buried where someone will eventually buy the property… surprise! Most the sand was trucked out to fill craters from surge. Crazy again!
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  12. #12
    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat Omega Man's Avatar
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    ďIt was the year of 1900 that was 60 years ago
    Death come'd a howling on the ocean and when death calls you've got to go
    Galveston had a sea wall just to keep the water down
    But a high tide from the ocean blew the water all over the town.
    Wasn't that a mighty storm
    Wasn't that a mighty storm in the morning
    Wasn't that a mighty storm
    It blew all the people away.
    The sea began to rolling the ships they could not land
    I heard a captain crying Oh God save a drowning man
    The rain it was a falling and the thunder began to roll
    The lightning flashed like Hell-fire and the wind began to blow
    The trees fell on the island and the houses gave away
    Some they strived and drownded others died every way.
    The trains at the station were loaded with the people all leaving town
    But the trestle gave way with the water and the trains they went on down
    Old death the cruel master when the winds began to blow
    Rode in on a team of horses and cried death won't you let me go.
    The flood it took my mother it took my brother too
    I thought I heard my father cry as I watched my mother go
    Old death your hands are clammy when you've got them on my knee
    You come and took my mother won't you come back after me?
    Wasn't that a mighty storm
    Wasn't that a mighty storm in the morning
    Wasn't that a mighty storm
    It blew all the people away.ď

    OM
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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by henzilla View Post
    And Ian, the West End of Galveston is full of those huge mansions (again) after many fell over from battering waves and wind damage from being beachfront .More are now weekend rentals and fetch stupid rates… guessing they make the cash and payments then declare a huge loss and repeat. Memories fade quickly .


    fwiw, a lot of those homes in my pic above are being built with concrete block. At least they learned not to do stick-built houses... still going to suffer a lot of damage, and this type of development is not good for the land. jeebus!

  14. #14
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    OM, good lyrics other than the seawall not built yet. Didnít help that much in Ike as it was overtopped, guess it kept it looking like 1900 and the scouring Point Bolivar across the bay took.

    A good read is the account of the US Weather Bureau chief meteorologist living in Galveston and living through it. Telegraphís were it for advance information. Another thing you grasp in the 1900 storm and itís devastation. We are spoiled with technology and still canít get out of the way.

    https://www.amazon.com/Isaacs-Storm-.../dp/0375708278
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  15. #15
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    The long term recovery predicted for Florida looks so much worse as the days pass. The reality that they are still trying to account for missing people is sad, a lot of it truly preventable. The sights of total destruction in the Sanibel and general Lee County are jaw dropping and brought back Aleciaís and Ikeís landscape changing power.
    As many of the survivors have said, itís all they have and have hopes to rebuild.
    The amount of uninsured for so many is also staggering. Even if you had it, the premiums and high deductibles will add to the jumble of recovery.
    Itís been echoed by many already about personal responsibility and decisions to get out. Complacency and hardheadedness put people at risk who should have known better. Do you really need an official order to get away from coast? The finger pointing always comes and gets ugly, and as a former lineman trying to do our best but being threatened and held at gunpoint twice as people get desperate makes you question folks mindset. I remember our crew setting twenty poles in two long days to maybe get fifty meters back online.
    The big question is should some of this be rebuilt? Thatís such a tough call and a very expensive task to manage.
    The search for paradise has long term costs.
    Steve Henson-Mod Team

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