Bennett David Kahl

Bennett David Kahl
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers Ephesians 1:16

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Pics

Holy hurricane

No, we didn’t fall off the face of the earth…even though it felt like it for 8 ½ days! I have just been ridiculously busy lately and I have slacked on the blog update. But, now I am back!!!

I have been thinking about what the easiest way is to update about everything that’s been going on. I’ve decided that I want to chronicle every day of the hurricane for Ellie to read about later in life, so I am going to go day by day. This will probably not be one of the best blogs!!!

It’s so funny because we get hurricane threats so many times here in Houston during hurricane season. In my opinion, the media has desensitized us to the actual threat of hurricanes due to so many false alarms…or at least I HAD become desensitized to the actual threat of them.

On Tuesday, September 9th, it was business as usual. I was running errands and getting ready for a private show that upcoming Friday. I was with my mom and we decided to visit Sam’s Club “just in case” Hurricane Ike hit that weekend. I half shopped for the storm and half shopped just to get food that we needed, not really worrying about the storm. Brandon was out of town, so it was just the girls. I watched the weather and didn’t really think anything about it until late Wednesday afternoon when schools were beginning to get cancelled and surrounding areas were under voluntary evacuation. Brandon arrived home late Wednesday night and we talked about whether or not we should worry about the storm actually making land fall near us. Brandon (being the planner that he is) decided that he would rather make a trip to Home Depot at night (it was 8:30pm) and get wood to board up our windows. We could always return what we didn’t use…which was most likely going to be the case…right? Anyway, a house load of wood later we were resting in bed with the news on. Evacuating was never an option for us because we have Ellie and the dogs and really we weren’t THAT worried about Ike. By Thursday afternoon the Mayor of Houston had basically closed the city for Friday. Only emergency personnel were to report to work on Friday. The “cone of uncertainty” was closing in on the Houston/Galveston areas and the path of Ike was not deviating much. Uncle Dave called from Florida to say that he was catching an early flight home and he wanted to come stay with us. The more the merrier was our opinion, so I headed to Target for some real hurricane food. The lines were out of control. There were few items left on the shelves and people were scurrying around like mice in an empty basement. It was surreal! I was still calm and not as worried as I probably should have been. I felt like I should maintain some sort of normalcy for Ellie’s sake. Speaking of Miss Ellie, while we were in Target hurricane shopping she decided to grab a fresh tomato from the produce section and take a huge bite out of it like a apple…so much for normal! Anyway, we went home to prepare the house for a few guests and a hurricane which is always fun with a toddler. Thursday night Brandon boarded up all of the windows in our house to protect them from being blown out by the 100+ mile per hour winds they were projecting. During this time he noticed that the overflow from the AC unit was leaking…oh no! After his close inspection he realized that the lines just needed to be cleaned out with some bleach. Crisis diverted…we moved on.

Friday morning came and with it came the sounds of saws and drills outside. Armed with a cup of coffee I went outside to see several neighbors boarding up and preparing for the wrath of Ike. It hit me like a freight train in the middle of the night on Thursday that my precious little angel boy would be out in the cemetery all alone during this disaster. It was all I could do to rush over there early Friday and pick up his angel that Ellie Grace picked out along with his eternal light. As I pulled into the cemetery Ellie started to scream, “Bubba, Bubba!!!” She was hysterical. I didn’t want to get her out of the car because the clouds were threatening and the winds had picked up. They were telling everyone to try and be off the roads by 1:00 and I was cutting it close. I decided to let Ellie “cry it out” while I ran to collect our Bennett’s goodies. I had an emotional conversation with Bennett that morning. I told him that I knew he would be with us and protect us. I wished for the millionth time at that very moment that we had not buried Bennett. I felt helpless and scared that I had to leave his body out in a cemetery during this disaster. I went back to the car and cried with Ellie…

We put Bennett’s angel next to his picture on the side board in our kitchen. Soon after we arrived home Brandon’s mom also arrived. She was part of the crew that would be battling out the storm with us. Ellie went straight to the angel in the kitchen, picked it up and said, “Oh, Bubba” as she handed it to Biddie. The connection she has with her brother is undeniable. A few mornings later she would go over and offer her chocolate milk to the angel during breakfast. Chills ran up my body at that moment.

The rest of Friday was spent finishing laundry and letting Ellie play outside. We were obsessed with the weather on the news and it appeared that Ike would make a direct hit on Galveston which is about 30 miles south of our home. At about 8pm Ellie was fast asleep with Biddie by her side. Brandon and I opened the garage door and hung out with the neighbors to watch this storm arrive. At about 10pm the light show from the transformers blowing was something I have never seen in my life. We have a power plant just across the field from our neighborhood, so not only could we see the transformers blowing we could hear them. It was a light show with green and pink lights that sounded like shot guns going off. The winds were picking up so much that you could no longer sit in your driveway, so we moved into the garage. I was determined to stay up for the storm, but all of the preparation had worn us out. We battened up the hatches and went in to go to bed. At 3am I woke up to our alarm sounding…or at least I thought it was our house alarm. It was really our smoke alarm that decided to have a battery go dead during a hurricane! It was at that moment (when Brandon tried to turn on our hall light) that we realized that we had no electricity. BUMMER!!! I was secretly hoping we would escape losing power…no such luck! We lit a few candles and got the lanterns ready. My cell phone rang a few minutes later at about 3:45am. It was Aunt Steppy wondering if our house was shaking like hers was. She had some water coming in the front door from the winds driving the rain water in. We talked for a few minutes and then the phone reception went bad. No more than 30 minutes later at about 4:15 am I sat awake in the rocking chair listening to the wind whip around our house and shake the wood that surrounded our windows. Brandon woke up and told me to get the closet ready for Ellie because basically it sounded like a tornado was nearby. I took our blankets into the closet and grabbed Ellie from our bed. I brought her into the living room with me and rocked her. She looked up at me and said, “Choo, choo.” I told her that there was no train, but it was wind outside. I felt what Aunty Steppy had described only an hour earlier, our house appeared to be shaking. I never went back to sleep that night. I sat and rocked and worried and thought and prayed. I also waited for the sun to come up. At 7 am we were up and looking outside. There were fences down. Roofs ripped off and street signs in the middle of the streets. However, we all made it. No houses down, no cars overturned, no major disasters. We were still without power, but at that moment I was thankful that was all we were dealing with.

As time passed on Saturday we watched the rain fall and listened to the radio to find out about other damage. The city was closed and 98% of people and businesses were without power. There was flooding and major damage in the city of Houston. Galveston was devastated. On Saturday, they were projecting that it could be 1-3 weeks that we would be without power. WHAT??? I had only worried about what to do for the storm, not what to do after the storm. We thought about it and we decided to stay put and see what was going to happen about the power. Biddie, Uncle Dave and Katy decided to leave on Saturday to go back to their homes. Brandon and I drove looking for somewhere to eat and the only place we found that was open was McDonald’s. Ellie was thrilled because she could get some “wee bits” this is her word for French fries…don’t ask me why!

Saturday night was long and warm, however we were lucky to have a cold from come in and it was at least in the 60’s during the night. Saturday turned into Sunday and it brought Biddie back to our house b/c her apartment was way too hot for her to stay in. Sunday turned into Monday…into Tuesday…into Wednesday…into Thursday…into Friday with no power in sight. We were blessed to get a generator on Monday from my brother. Along with the generator he gave us an AC window unit and I don’t think we could have lived without either of them for that long! With extension cords running all over our house we made it from one day to the next. We traded off cooking with the neighbors and let them borrow some of our power for their freezer. We had finally figured our how to live like farmers by Wednesday. We rose at 7am lived outside for the whole day planned dinner out by 4:30 and got the house ready for bed by 7pm. Brandon dug through the attic and found our little 13” old school t.v. and plugged it in so we even had some entertainment. It really wasn’t THAT bad…considering.

On early Friday morning we woke up to power!!! Glorious AC!!!! Fans turned on HIGH!!! It was a dream come true. Being very anal the first thing on our agenda (Brandon’s and mine that is) was to deep clean our house. We cleaned from 8am until 12:30 while Biddie watched Ellie Grace. Our house was spotless from floor to ceiling. It was about 2:30 and I was thinking about getting in the shower, but I wanted to finish the laundry first. Until a bright light flashed outside of our house followed by a gun shot…it was our transformer AGAIN!

Once again we were without power. We were devastated and disgusted. We decided to go out to pick up dinner and during this trip Brandon spotted a Centerpoint Energy truck. He was on a mission to follow the truck and get some answers from the driver inside. The truck stopped at McDonald’s in Pecan Grove and so did Brandon. He followed the man inside to the table that he sat at and began questioning him. I was horrified as was Biddie. We tried to both hide on the floor board of Brandon’s truck, but we couldn’t find a way to fit. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life! I am not really sure what Brandon was trying to accomplish, but I was half worried he would get arrested for harassing this man and half proud that he was that worried about his family having to go one more day without power. We decided to go home, put Ellie to sleep and relax outside with the sound of generators surrounding us. Brandon called Centerpoint that night and the woman seemed confident that they should be out within the next 12 hours to restore our power…likely story.

At 8:30 the next morning, Brandon came into our room and told me that the men were there to fix our lines. Music to my ears! I jumped out of bed and went to see for myself. By the time we got back outside they were gone!!! And we still didn’t have power! It was another disappointment! Brandon went to get kolaches for breakfast and I sat outside with the neighbors hoping that the men would return to fix out power. Sure enough the did! It took them about 20 minutes to replace the transformer and restore power to us. We all cheered and gave them the thumbs up sign…they were our hero’s at that moment!

So, over a week after we lost power we had it once again. We had phones, computers, refrigerators, AC, lights and every other modern convenience restored. We were back on the face of the earth. What we didn’t realize is that 54% of the city of Houston was still without power at that point. Our lives had resumed while so many other lives were still on hold.

This storm was a wake up call. It was also filled with so much irony. We spend a lifetime preparing for the storm…whatever it may be. However, it is what we do with ourselves during and after the storm that defines the people we are.