Storm Stories

Claudette -- 1979

This was only a tropical storm, yet it dumped enough rain to flood our neighborhood.  Our garage had several inches of water in it, and the water level came within a half-inch of getting into the house.  Everyone to the west of us had some water in their house -- the closer to the drainage ditch you got, the more water you had in your house.  We had put some of our belongings on tables and on plywood panels put on sawhorses as a precaution, actions that proved to be unnecessary in our case.  We had a guest overnight, a woman who was driving home but could proceed no farther.

This is the FM 518 exit from the southbound Gulf Freeway.  Clear Creek has overflowed its banks, completely covering up the freeway.

Allen -- 1980

This was a huge storm, and when it entered the Gulf of Mexico, hurricane warnings went up.  We were being advised to evacuate, and that's what we did.  We loaded up the car with essentials and with our pets, and we left around 5 o'clock at night.  We had no idea where we would end up that evening.

Dad's first instinct was to head to Alvin and then go west on Highway 6, for he was sure the Gulf Freeway would be jammed.  Well guess what, so was Highway 6.  So we go up Highway 35 and get on the Loop.  Next course of action: take 290 to the northwest.  That was jammed, too.  So we got on FM 1960 and went all the way over to the Eastex Freeway.  By this time, it was well after dark.  Traffic was heavy through Cleveland and bumper-to-bumper all the way to Livingston, where we ended up in a church camp pressed into service as an evacuation shelter.  My dad and my sister claimed two beds at the shelter, while my mom and I stayed in the car with our pets, an 11-year-old cat named Penny and a 3-month-old dog named Pepper.  7 hours to go a hundred miles!

We stayed at the shelter for 3/4 of a day until we got the call to return home; that trip only took 2 hours.  The "highlight" of our stay, you could say, was the venison barbecue we ate.  Except I didn't know it was venison when I was eating it.  When my sister found out, she wasn't too happy about it.


Alicia -- 1983

Here is my story of how our family made it through hurricane Alicia in 1983, as published in the Galveston County Daily News August 17, 2003.

Experiencing Hurricane Alicia in August 1983 was something I'll never forget - and something I hope never to experience again.

We didn't have much time to get ready for the storm, only a day or so. We evacuated during Allen in 1980 but chose to stay this time.

On Wednesday night, we moved our couch into the living room and hunkered down.

The lights went out fairly soon, so our companion for that night was Anita Martini on KPRC radio. The roar of the wind and rain never let up; the eye never passed over our part of League City, though I think the eastern edge went a couple of miles to our west.

At one point, I had to go to the bathroom to throw up. I braved a peek outside; the rain was going sideways, and a small tree had been blown completely over.

In the morning, we could see the mess in our yard, with many downed limbs and a few blown-out sections of our fence. But our back fence held, though it might not have had an aluminum panel from the nearby Boat Barn gone a few feet farther and hit it. Many of our trees had seriously bent trunks. Those bends persist to this day.

We didn't have lights for a whole week. For a few days, we had strung an extension cord from our neighbor's house and used it to power a fan. We all slept in our family room in front of that fan until the lights returned.

Ike -- 2008

I was at home in Michigan during Ike, so you may wonder how I could have a storm story to tell.  In fact, what was left of Ike passed over the Detroit area that Sunday, bringing steady heavy rain and strong winds.  I got puddles of water in the garage from a leaky roof and a damp wall.  But that's not my storm story.

No, my storm story is more a story of the power of global communication, of how I was able to keep abreast of the latest developments not just from the national media but from the hometown newspaper and TV channels.  Thanks to the Internet, I was able to follow coverage in the Houston Chronicle and Galveston Daily News.  Eric Berger's SciGuy blog provided invaluable information about what was going on and what to expect and when to expect it.  I eventually found that both KHOU and KTRK were streaming their continuous news coverage on the Web, so I monitored them (mainly channel 11) as much as time allowed.  Even though I no longer lived down there, no longer had family down there, I still had friends down there.  And that was my hometown that was under the gun.  As the saying goes, you can take a person out of Texas, but you can't take the Texas out of a person.  I still had intense interest in what was going on.  When I watched the news reports from channel 11, it was almost as if I was down there.  But I'll be honest, I'm glad I wasn't.  At one point, there was a live report from what I believe was a corridor of the Hotel San Luis, and I could hear the constant roar of the wind.  I can't describe how it sounded, but the last time I heard that roar was in our living room during hurricane Alicia.

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2003-9 R. W. Reini