My brother Michael's house is flooding. He called around 7:45 a.m., asking us to check the weather report. Michael and his wife, Shannon who's five months pregnant lost power and water during Ike. They woke up this morning to find water lapping at their garage, and he wanted to know how much higher the water was expected to rise. Unfortunately, the answer is a lot. The seven bayous that run through and around Houston are swollen, and the rain is still coming down. (See photos of Hurricane Ike here)
My husband Ian and my father are trying to get close enough so that Michael and Shannon can walk out of the flooding. They live in an older neighborhood just outside the Loop that's about a 15 minute drive from my parent's downtown apartment. They've been gone at least an hour and haven't gotten close yet. They have to thread their way around the flooded areas, and keep getting turned around.
Currently, there are 68 high water closures on Houston roads. There's a really helpful website (www.houstontranstar.org.) that details exactly which roads are flooded. Of course, you have to have power to check it. The flooding is going to be a massive problem. Harris County has ordered a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the entire week. We're also hearing that parts of the Med Center are losing water pressure.
The rain let up long enough yesterday afternoon for my other brother, Matt, and his new wife Holly to get married. Since my parents were the only ones in our family with power and water, they came over here for showers and lunch beforehand. My sister also showed up looking for a shower and some air conditioning. Houston was built on a filled swamp, and it's hot and humid on the best of days in the summer. Throw in a hurricane and torrential rain storms, and it's a miserable place to be without air conditioning.
The wedding was a candlelight ceremony, by necessity. The church was without power, and parts of it had no water. Somehow, the pastor managed to find a florist, a piano player and a baker. We were shocked, and so grateful. It was a beautiful ceremony, if a touch bittersweet. Holly's parents, who evacuated Brazoria County ahead of Ike, couldn't get to Houston. She asked my dad to walk her down the aisle. My daughter was thrilled she got to be a flower girl as planned.
It was a very small crowd. Just our family and three close friends who were brave enough to venture out. The plan right now is to have the big reception in October. The place in Brazoria County had an open date and offered to reschedule them. We're sure their honeymoon, a cruise out of Galveston leaving Monday, will be canceled. So far, the cruise company is holding out hope that the port might be open. But looking at the pictures from the island, which people say smells like a lumber yard due to the destruction, it's hard to believe anything there will be open tomorrow. There's no phone service, no water and no power over much of the place. But I have no doubt the city will rebuild better than ever. I knew Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas when I was a beat reporter for the Galveston County Daily News. She's a tough, no-nonsense kind of woman, and from an old Galveston family that knows about hurricanes. The island is lucky to have her at the helm.
And I feel lucky that Matt and Holly were able to get married. It's a wedding we'll never forget.