Sep 21, 2005

The Rita Journal - Day 1

Wednesday: 21 September 2005

I'm writing this on Thursday morning, at around 8:15 AM.
I didn't know it was this serious until I got to school and everyone was freaking out. In Physics II (first period) we decided that Hurricane Rita would be our main source of error. Fitting, as we're studying rotational motion. At the end of first period we got the announcement that school's cancelled tomorrow (Thursday). After the initial celebration, the mood dimmed somewhat by second period; this isn't looking good. In Economics, Mr. G put in Star Wars, and a few people watched. The rest of us talked and worried. Maerilly's going to somewhere near San Antonio, Luis is off to Tomball; Sarah's parents haven't decided yet. Jordan's going to her grandparents in New Braunfels.
Sarah and I skipped Internship (we called in, don't worry) to go home and help preparations. The parting phrase of the hour, and indeed, the day, seems to be "stay safe". The worst part about this is probably that no one knows just how bad this is going to be.
I called my mom as I left school at around 11:00 AM, and she told me to get gas on the way home; almost every gas station in the area has run out or is running out. After a couple of tries, I finally found one that was still running: the Chevron at 6 and 1092. I stood (or rather, idled) in line, talking to my mom on the phone. I only had nineteen dollars to buy gas with; definitely not enough to fill up the entire tank. Plus, I had no idea how to fill gas without paying via credit card.
My cell phone ran out of battery (stupid tiny battery) just after I told my mom where I was. Luckily, she got it, and just as I pulled up to the pump, she arrived, credit card in hand. The regular gas was almost completely dry; it was "flowing" at a rate of about half a gallon per five minutes. Ugh. We finally ended up cancelling that, and taking the medium gas, with much better results. Two minutes later, the gas station guy came around to put plastic bags on the normal gas nozzles. The truck at the pump across from me arrived before me and was still filling up gas when I left; they had about five or six gas tanks in the back.
Got gas, headed home. The traffic was pretty bad northbound on 6, but that was really due to an accident just south of 59. I started to get increasingly more nervous. I hadn't thought this was so bad until I had got to school.
I finally got home and talked with my mom. She had stopped by to get groceries, and due to my information, managed to avoid the accident that clogged up 6. I think the situation really hit home when I started filling up containers with water, and watched the Weather Channel. It's definitely coming.
I sat on the couch, watching TV until my mom got home. Together, we unloaded groceries and organized the pantry so it would be easy to get anything out. It's a different kind of thinking: instead of convenience now, it's convenience later. How do you anticipate the unpredictable?
I think we're going to stay here, so far. The worst that can happen to us is that the roof blows off and the ceiling collapses, and we have places to go in our house to be safe from that. My sister, in California, wants us to leave, but we have two dogs and three people. To get stuck in traffic in the current Houston heat would be horrible for them and us.
I hurricane-proofed my room as best I could. I got all the loose objects off open areas or behind somewhere and hid my computer and monitor behind my bed. My acoustic guitar and Brandon's electric guitar went in my closet, and my sister's $400 Seagull went in her closet.
Cell phones are all pretty much down today. "ALL CIRCUITS ARE BUSY" is the message we get when trying to call anyone. I think everyone's trying to figure everything out at the same time.
Despite all the preparations, I think my family is relatively calm. We're still making jokes like we usually do, and we ended up watching a few taped episodes of the fourth season of 24 at night before we went to sleep. I think the best moment had to be when, in the middle of all this anticipation, there was a knock at the door. I cracked that the hurricane was here, and we all had a much welcome laugh. The other great moment was when they announced the lifting of all tolls in Houston, and simultaneously, my mom and I suggested we go somewhere. After all, it's free! If you lose your sense of humor, where do you go next?
Amanda Comer called me, asking what my plans were. I told her that we were probably staying. She said she was making a list. Those words are somewhat scary. It feels a lot like dogtags.
AIM is full of chatter. People asking people whether they are staying, or leaving, or where are they leaving to? Again, the parting phrase is always "stay safe." That's the idea here.
I couldn't sleep, so I read Reader's Digest for a bit. Finally, I turned out the lights and turned on the last few songs of "More Than You Think You Are", by Matchbox 20. By the time the CD ended, I was asleep. It was 1:45 AM.


Robbyn said...

Hi. I am originally from Houston, now living in Michigan. entire family are down there. Most have gone to my mom's near Livingston. My brother works at Exxon in Baytown and he is locked down because they are shutting down the refinery. He probably won't be out before Rita hits. I just wanted to give you good luck and hope you and your family ride this out safely.

Take care.

ducky said...

We just gotta keep our perspective and sense of humor. It's all that will get us through this trying time.

Nirav said...

Thanks for the comments, y'all. Hopefully we'll all get through this okay.

Anonymous said...

I wish you luck. I'm duking it out here in Houston, and hopefully it will all be okay. The storm is lessening, and we can only hope it gets better.

Btw, if you call a number from a cell phone five times consecutively, it should go through. Tedius and annoying, but seems to work.

Most people here in Houston can relate to at least something from your post, and it's kind of good to hear it from someone else in order to keep a sense of .. reality? I suppose that would be a possible word for it.

Well, "stay safe." Hopefully we all can/will.