Monday, September 26, 2005

Rita Recovery Hot Night

I drove around looking for some place with air conditioning and food. I went toward San Leon, adjacent to Bacliff on the bay. There were firemen at a roadblock stopping traffic. I thought they were restricting traffic to residents only but I went ahead anyway. I stopped and rolled down the window.
"Do you live in San Leon?"
"No, Bacliff."
"Okay. You can go?"
"Why are you stopping people?" I was a little confused.
"The water is contaminated. Don't drink the water."

Okay. I was continued on to go to a restaurant nearby. When I got there the parking lot was full but I thought about the tainted water and decided to go elsewhere.

I ended up at Katie's, a local pub just a few blocks from my house.

There were at least twenty people in Katie's. Most were there to escape the heat. Everyone sitting around the bar had pretty much the same story: thirty hours to Dallas, twenty six hours to San Antonio, eighteen hours to Conroe. A few people had been in the car for so long that they never stayed anywhere, just turned around and came home.
Some people were indignant, others just glad it was over. We tried to figure out ways to evacuate without traffic jams but didn't come up with much. Most of the proposed solutions degraded to getting rid of all politicians and keeping idiots off the road. Maybe lynching an oil company executive or two would help.

After chicken nuggets and a few beers I decided to check if the power was on at my house yet.

No power. Inside the house was 98 degrees, 90 percent humidity. I sat and steamed for a few minutes wondering what to do next. I took a cold shower but I was wet with sweat before I got dressed again. I might as well go back to Katie's.

I decided to walk to the bar. I emptied my pockets of extra stuff that had accumulated. At the last minute I decided to leave my keys behind and leave the door unlocked. A decision that would have unexpected consequences. A good choice I made was to leave a flashlight ob the porch outside the house.

Katie’s was more lively than when I left. I was greeted warmly when I sat down at the bar because there were at least four other people who had done the same as I: went home showered, changed clothes and came back for the cool conditioned air.
There was music starting. Katie had posted "Hurricane Jam Tonight" on the marquis outside. Local people were coming in to show off with guitars. People enjoyed the music - mostly blues and I-know-that-song songs.

There was lots of friendly conversation and meeting of neighbors. Two different people offered to let me stay at their energized house for the night in cool air. I declined - how bad could it be? Someone had the latest news on everything - San Leon water, burglary at Noahs bar, when will the power be back on... I finally walked home around midnight.

The power was on up until a block before my house. You could see the dividing line between the lit houses and the dark lifeless blocks ahead. It was very dark at my house. As I walked in my driveway, my neighbor came running out toward me...
"Hey! Bill!"
"Uh - Bob"
"No Pat! I live next door."
"No, I'm Bob"
"Oh, I thought you were Bill."
"Anyway," he continues almost breathless, "There were cops all over your house! There were two cars and a sheriff in a pickup! We could see the flashlights. they were going through all the rooms of your house!"
"What? My house? Tonight? Wait a minute! What?"
I had a hard time figuring out the story.
As we were talking a cop car drove by on the cross street. They were sweeping a spotlight around so I waved my arms to catch them. They went around the block then pulled up and rolled down their window. My neighbors were in their truck driving off down the road.

I guess I seemed a little excited when I started quizzing the young police officer. He looked like he was scared of me. After eight hours or so in a bar, I may have appeared a little intoxicated.

I got alot of "yes, sir," "No, sir," "I understand, sir,"
He said someone saw an open door so they went to check if the house was being burglarized. Everything was okay so the secured the premises. There are many patrols in the area. Please call them if you have any more problems.
"Was the door open? or unlocked or what? Was something going on at the house?"
"I do not know , sir. I was not the first officer on the scene."
"Scene? What scene? This is no scene, its my house!"
"Yes, sir. I understand, sir. Just trying to help, sir."

they drove off. I went to go into my house. Guess what - they had secured the premises. They had locked the door. My keys were inside.


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