The Resilience of Houstonians after Hurricane Ike
The hurricane resilience of the people in our nation’s fourth largest city, Houston, was much in evidence during my visit there in mid-October.
Hurricane Ike had swept through, but the city and our country brought huge resources to bear quickly to clean up and repair. Within weeks, the city was functioning again.
Possibly most sobering of all views was a look of the Chase building, a downtown skyscraper that had almost all of its windows either blown out or sucked out. A weather event in the urban canyons during the height of the hurricane had literally torn out most of the windows in the building. One can only imagine the devastation to the offices inside as wind and rain penetrated the structure. At the time of my visit, the blown-out windows were all plywood boarded up.
A shopping center known as the Galleria played a major role in the Hurricane Ike recovery. I drove out to see it, about a half hour from the downtown. The Galleria is not your ordinary shopping center. It is Texas-size. It is totally enclosed and climate controlled. It is a world unto itself. The expanse of the Galleria is astonishing. You see the accumulation of Texas wealth as you walk through it because every high-end designer store is well represented. But the Galleria also has mid-range stores and affordable restaurants.
After the hurricane, the locals told me, the Galleria played a special role. First, the Galleria had its own assured electrical systems backup. Ike did not knock it out. As an enclosed structure, the interior of the Galleria escaped much of the devastation. Restaurants in the Galleria could continue to function, serving food to the citizens. In the heat, the Galleria was also climate controlled. Wi-fi in the Galleria could allow a citizen to keep in touch. Thousands of Houstonians came to the Galleria for food, shelter, comfort, and something less tangible—hope. If Ike had not been able to knock out the Galleria, maybe we could all get beyond this tragedy.
By the time of my visit, it was impressive to see how Houston had pulled itself out of the Hurricane Ike tragedy. I wanted to travel around the city to look at some special architectural amenities, which would be my travel story about Houston. I drove out to the Montrose area and other neighborhoods. The streets were already cleared, which was no small feat. Houston has some of the loveliest large live oak trees lining its streets that I have seen in my travels. Some were toppled, but most survived.
The occasional wrath of nature, meaning a hurricane in Houston or an earthquake in my city of Berkeley, CA, is inevitable. It was impressive to see how local Houston citizens, coupled with better-organized (post-Katrina) FEMA and Red Cross national support, worked together to recover from the tragedy.
To me, the lesson to be internalized, now more than ever, is that survival when the wrath of nature strikes depends first on the energies and prudence of the average citizen, especially in the new Obama era, when government will have less funds. I need to take stock of my own earthquake-survival supplies in Berkeley, so that when a Hurricane Ike-level Richter Scale earthquake hits, I will be prepared to save myself and offer the citizens in my neighborhood some support. I believe a major earthquake in Berkeley will occur in my lifetime, but I also believe that my lifetime has several decades left. This allows me, in a moment of leisure, to raise a chilled glass of Chardonnay tonight to honor the citizens of Houston as a model of resilience.* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Copyright © 2016 Lee Foster, Foster Travel Publishing. All rights reserved.
This article was written by Lee Foster of Foster Travel Publishing. Contact Lee at .
Lee has 250 worldwide travel writing/photography coverages, plus articles on publishing and literary subjects, for consumers to enjoy and for content buyers to license at www.fostertravel.com.
Lee’s latest books/ebooks include one on self-publishing, titled An Author’s Perspective on Independent Publishing: Why Self-Publishing May Be Your Best Option, and a literary memoir about growing up in Minnesota, titled Minnesota Boy: Growing Up in Mid-America, Mid-20th Century. Lee’s travel literary book/ebook, Travels in an American Imagination: The Spiritual Geography of Our Time, now exists also as an audiobook.
Lee’s travel books/ebooks, focused mainly on California, include Northern California Travel: The Best Options, now available also as an ebook in Chinese. Lee co-wrote and co-photographed a major book for publisher Dorling Kindersley (DK) in their Eyewitness Guide series, titled Back Roads California. Lee’s further current California titles are The Photographer’s Guide to San Francisco and Northern California History Weekends. All of Lee’s books can be seen on his website at www.fostertravel.com/book.html and on his Amazon Author Page.
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