Friday, October 07, 2005

Sunday, September 25, 2005.

Word was that the new Lowes in Lindale had gas cans. I headed out at about 10:00 a.m. and hit paydirt. Six two-gallon cans (and plenty left for those who came later). But I forgot to get the chain saw. Home Depot in Tyler had a few left.

I filled the gas tank and the cans and got out at around four in the afternoon. Traffic wasn't a problem as far as Lufkin, but that's where the gas dried up.

The plan was to go to Beaumont, or, if we couldn't get in, go on to Galveston. When we got to Lufkin, the sign said that the road to Beaumont (US69) was closed ahead. So we took 59 to 146 (the road to Galveston). Power was out everywhere past Lufkin.

59 was lined with hundreds, if not thousands, of abandoned cars. 146 was clear of abandoned vehicles, but traffic was slow-going. Then came the intersection with 105. The signs, and the DPS troopers, said 146 was closed, and forced all traffic west on 105.

Since we were obviously being steered away from any of the places we wanted to go, we cut off on a mostly southbound farm road. We made our way to Dayton where we eventually found our way to 90, which at a bit after 10:00 p.m., took us to the outskirts of Beaumont, where police cars blocked the road.

A driver's license with a Beaumont address was sufficient to get through, and the deputies (I think they were with the Sheriff's department) let us through, cautioning us to be careful of the downed power lines and advising us of the dusk-to-dawn curfew.

The main roads into town were relatively clear, but it took some doing to navigate the neighborhoods.

We stopped first at my ex-wife's house and found that she'd been looted. Bastards.

We'd been worried that a big oak tree next to her house would end up on top of it, but it fell to the side, with only one branch poking through the living room window.

And there were a few holes in the roof. More about that later.

We went on to my house and found the streets impassable. It looked something like this (camera phones aren't exactly the best):

My house is the second one down the block. I had to climb over three big pine trees that had fallen across the road to get to it. One of these trees had pulled up a water line when it fell, and at one point I ended up knee-deep in muddy water.

The neighbor with the tree on her roof (as seen on FoxNews) saw the flashlights and asked who we were. When I told her, she said she had some water if we needed any, and that her house had been looted too.

When I finally got to my house, I found one of those 100+ foot pine trees on the roof. The front door wouldn't open, but the back door would. It was still locked. None of the windows had been broken out (although a couple were cracked. Nothing was stolen. Probably one of the advantages of an impassable street.

Although the pre-storm forecast had called for cooler weather after the storm passed through, it was a miserable, sweltering night. I tried to sleep on the front porch, but ended up having a couple lukewarm beers and watching the crew clear the street.

They had started down the street before we arrived, and they got to my house at about 1:00 a.m. When they got there, I brought my truck around and parked in the front yard. Several hours later, they'd finishing clearing the street and I went to bed.

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