Notes from the Bayou City
by Yvonne Georgina Puig
The Panera Bread here in Houston, at Memorial City Mall, where I sit writing, is filled with people thumbing through newspapers and working on laptops. It’s an odd place to find oneself in the wake of a natural disaster. Contrived to encourage work and conversation, but somehow ill-quipped.
Employees are scurrying, customers are ducking behind corporate club chairs to locate power outlets, there’s a line snaking around the counter. In a small way, it’s exciting.
Ten days after Hurricane Ike, most people around here don’t have internet, and only a few have power. The result is something you don’t see very often in this part of Houston: people outside of the house, talking or reading over coffee. The chit-chat is invariably Ike-related. Are you okay? Did your house make it? Did you lose any trees? Everyone has a story.
In the next day or two however, as cable returns and fewer lack in lights and the (literal) mountains of tree limbs and debris are trucked away, the community atmosphere will have faded. Houstonians will return to business as usual-almost. Ike, like its big sisters Carla and Alicia, is just one of those storms that, to quote the neighbors, “folks’ll keep talkin’ about.”
Gene Parrish, electrician, teacher, veteran
“When Carla hit I was in Hong Kong, in the navy. But I think this storm here is the worst we’ve ever had. It’s nasty. I’ve been taking them quick, cold baths for a week. Once you turn blue you don’t care anymore. It don’t take but two minutes to take a cold shower. You just spring in and spring out. Spring in and spring out.”
Mrs. McKissick, retired schoolteacher. A tree crashed through the roof over Mrs. McKissick’s sitting room.
“I’ve got two Mexicans coming from Bruce’s place and they tell me they’ll fix it in a week and do a first-rate job. I hope I don’t have a rat in my house. If I do I’m moving out. That storm ruined my carpet. I’m getting a new carpet, the same but it’ll be one shade darker.”
Mrs. McKissick’s poodle, Katie
Anthony “Cleve” Calagna, Village Fire Chief, proud Democrat
“We got a call that night on Timberwild, all huge houses. There’s a house end of that street that’s 26,000 square feet. We pull up, I keep hearin’ crack, crack, pow, pow, trees falling everywhere. Someone had been hit by a tree.
A girl comes out and we find the house is full of bubbas in there. What the shit are a bunch of bubbas doing on Timberwild? The girl’s boss said she could go over there if she needed to evacuate and she brought all her kinfolk. These guys smoking Pall-Malls and wearing stars and bars. They were drinking beer outside and got hit by a tree.”
Michael Puig, sailor, my dad
“If I hadn’t moved my boat I’d be squat right now. The next dock flipped over like a switchblade and would have cut my boat in half. It was raining dogs and Polecats. If you weren’t on a floating dock, you were screwed.”
Yvonne Puig is the contributing editor to This Recording. Her tumblr is here.
“Divine” – Sébastien Tellier (mp3)
PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING
Danish’s first post ever. I’ll have to rerun this one with DVD commentary at some point.
Molly shined on like a crazy diamond.
portrait of the author