The Washington Times - September 12, 2008, 05:32PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the Hurricane Ike Blog. In our first post, Houston-area freelance writer Robert Geiger, holed up with his family as Hurricane Ike bears down on the Texas coast, shares his thoughts with readers of The Washington Times. If you’re in the Houston area and you’d like to contribute to this blog, please e-mail your stories to webdesk@washingtontimes.com.

 

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It’s a strange feeling, waiting for Hurricane Ike to arrive. You watch the news, you see an already ferocious storm surge hitting Galveston, and you wonder what’s going to happen next.

 

I’m 45 miles directly north of Galveston. Every time the weatherman shows the projected line of the storm it seems to be coming right at us. It’s 2 p.m. and they’ve told us Ike will arrive around 1 a.m., so we’ve got 11 hours or so before he gets here. 

 

I’ve lived in Houston for 25 years and to date, the worst hurricane I’ve experienced was Alicia, which hit Houston a week after I had moved here. (Welcome to the Gulf Coast!) That storm was a whopper. It left most of the city without water and electricity for a week or more and the damage was widespread. 

 

Aside from the water, which rises quickly but generally drains out just as fast, most hurricane damage is caused by wind. People generally don’t associate lots of trees with Southeast Texas, but we actually are on the southern tip of one of the largest pine forests in the country. 

 

I vividly remember looking out of my 15th-story dorm room at the University of Houston when Alicia hit and watching 200 foot pine trees being snapped off at the ground and tossed about like they were toothpicks. It was very alarming.

 

Looking back on the stats of that storm, Ike is almost a carbon copy as far as strength — Category 3, with winds of 115 mph — and even atmospheric pressure, 960 megabars. I’m not sure what that means but it can’t be good.

 

Alicia actually hit a little south of Houston, so we were on the “dirty” side of the system, which generally is where all the bad things happen. Since the two storms are so similar, I feel like I kind of know what to expect.

 

The encouraging news so far is that the evacuation process of Galveston, which was terribly late for Alicia, worked well this time. It’s a good thing too because officials say Galveston Island will be completely underwater for at least 12 hours. We’re already seeing a hint of the flooding all along the coast. There’s going to be a lot of damage, it appears.

 

Around my neighborhood, the power company people, in a preemptive move, have come through and cut down all the dead trees that could possibly fall on electrical lines. Not a bad idea, I suppose. The highways are clear for the most part and the stores that were open this morning are all closed at this point. Some have even been boarded up.

 

Hopefully, we’ll be okay.

 

— Rob Geiger covers drag racing for AutoWeek magazine and is a contributor to USA Today. He also publishes drag racing news on his Web site, www.go2geiger.com.