Workers’ Correspondence

Houston reader Pat Burnham forwarded us the letter she sent out to friends after a weekend with Hurricane Rita.

Greetings to all!

My household survived with no damage, just a lot of small branches and leaves covering nearly every inch of the yard.

Returning from the CLUW Conference in Detroit Sept. 17, I had to go into hurricane mode very quickly.

We battened down the hatches at the college campus where I’m employed in electrical maintenance and prepared for the worst.

At home, I bought $300 of groceries, disinfected two 30-gallon trash cans and filled them with water. I bought flashlights, lots of batteries and glow sticks — just love those little things. They come in different colors, last a long time, and look pretty in the dark.

We (my two sons, grandkids and me) brought in all things in the yard that could become projectiles, such as bird feeders, garbage cans and water hoses, which could become flying snakes. We boarded up all the windows and “hunkered down.”

Our power blipped out Friday night about 12:30. The winds came in gusts and I could hear pinecones and branches hitting the roof. Awakening my granddaughter Ashley, we watched the storm from our screened front porch. The gusts came loudly with a continuous noise like a plane flying overhead. The treetops were swaying violently — a little scary, so we retreated to the safety of the middle of our brick house. Early Saturday morning, I ventured out, the wind still blowing. Couldn’t believe my eyes — there were little hummingbirds (which we’ve been feeding for a few weeks during their migration) all over the place, searching for the feeders that had hung all around the eaves of the house. I hurriedly filled the feeders and hung them out quickly for the hungry little visitors.

With a cup of instant coffee I strolled down the street to check the neighbors. Across the street, a large tree had fallen across one neighbor’s car, but others pitched in with chain saws and soon removed the old oak. The entire neighborhood began the process of cleaning up fallen branches, helping one another. Our power came back on Monday.

Two small stray puppies showed up at the back door. I’m feeding them now, too.

My oldest sister and her husband tried to evacuate on Thursday. Made a little over 100 miles in 30 hours of travel time. They ran out of gas, then were separated for nearly 24 hours when my brother-in-law left in a futile attempt to find an open gas station. They finally made it safely to my other sister’s home in Texarkana.

The evacuation was a nightmare. Though our mayor and governor worked diligently to avoid a New Orleans catastrophe, no one was prepared for the gasoline shortage. And we refine it here! Many people are swearing they’ll never go through this again, even if we get a direct hit.

Thanks to all for your concern, letters and prayers.

— From Texas, Pat