Last night Hurricane Ike hit Houston and its surrounding areas. This was my first experience of a hurricane. We had decided to ride it through.
My analysis was very simple –
First, I went to all the sites which gave the speeds that would hit our area and the number of models which were predicting that. Majority suggested Katy – the west most suburb – will be hit with winds of upto 65 mph. I believed that we could be hit anywhere between 40-75 mph winds depending on the direction of the hurricane. If the hurricane was just a little west, then the speeds could approach over 70 mph.
Second, I looked for examples of such winds and damage that such winds could cause? My search revealed that such winds could break trees and throw lots of projectiles and in rare cases it could take the roofs off the houses. At >100 mph the roofs flying off became a more of a reality.
I emptied the backyard, first of all. We did not board our windows… which a lot of people did (and not so smartly, I must say). The hurricane was moving in anti-clockwise motion and Katy being on the west side, would surely have been hit from the North or North East.. in some areas maybe from North West as well (at least a sheer of wind). So, quite obviously the direction of South was safe. But I saw most people who boarded their houses did so on the South and South West more than the North, which was kind of counter-intuitive!
The winds really started around 2 am here… and did not stop until 8 am! 6 hours of SOLID pounding of 50-70 mph winds – I am pretty sure that the winds were much higher than the estimated 50 mph!
By one hour into the winds, we heard something come off the roof, and our walls and roof was being hit like a hammer! I was worried, because we had two Dish antennas up there (one US channels and one Indian channels dishes). I was worried that they might come off. I was pretty sure it was one or both of them. But what had happened to the roof while they came off was not clear. It seemed like whatever came off was hanging by the wire and being hurled around. The sound was just unbearable!
We just could not sleep at all. I was awake till 8 am all through and then my wife and I went outside to confirm it. We found out that one of the dishes had come off and was hanging with the wire.
The hit was not so much and it wasnt hitting so hard but inside the noise was so loud.
Later our neighbor helped us with his ladder and cut the dish off. So it could not affect us any longer.
Later when I went out, I saw a couple of trees had come off and the roof of one of the doctor’s office had come off as well. So it is clear that the wind speed was very high.
Most of the Houston still does not have any electricity. Bayous are very full and some places are flooded. Katy had gotten the electricity early in the morning (around 8 am). The internet and landlines also started functioning later in the day.
Downtown was badly affected. JPM Chase building’s windows were blown off (hundreds of them).
So, it was a close shave for us.
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