Saturday, September 27, 2008
Ike was rough.
So my truck is wrecked ... I'm in a new relationship ... My kids just started a new school ... My lawn needs mowed badly... The house bills are due ... The lawn mower is broken again ... The windows need winterized and my living space is destroyed after I get back from Gustav. So what do I do? Yep, I leave on Ike.
This deployment was a sharp contrast to all of the hurry up and wait of the Gustav deployment. We went to work almost immediately after getting to San Antonio. They shipped a few of the strike teams off to Houston to prepare for Ike's landfall and a few were sent further south as well.
25 units (10 of which were mine) were sent to be the first boots on the ground in Galveston. It was the most coveted assignment there was, we were honored to accept the responsibility.
We arrived about 90 minutes after the storm went through and it looked like we stepped out of the USA and into a third world nation. There was no power, cell coverage, water..NOTHING. We found where the city had set up a temporary shelter and got right to work with 300 or so people waiting to get on a bus to San Antonio.
We set up staging at a local high school and within 120 minutes we had assumed control of Galveston EMS operations. Those guys and gals had been working non-stop for several days now and their station was under water. They needed a break to get shit right and we were the people for the job.
FEMA had set us all up with phones that didn't work, Low-Jack that could not track us, GPS units that worked about 60% of the time and 2 way radios that would reach about 1 mile on a sunny day. So we felt well prepared to step into this hornets nest.
For the first 2 days it was non-stop with 911 calls. We ran a 15 truck rotation to try and get the guys some down time but you were lucky to get 45 minutes of sleep before you were woke up by something. Building collapse, fire, looting, MI, entrapment, diabetic emergencies... all of these things became so common that we didn't even bat an eyelash.
There were several USAR and DMAT teams attached with us as well and eventually we started working together as if we had all know eachother for years. It became normal to see buildings smashed and 50 foot boats just sitting on the top of houses. That chest of drawers on top of the 4 story apartment building was just another thing that seemed to belong.
The dead animals in the street began to bother me after a few days, it was stinking to hell. All of the fish that the storm surge brought in were rotting too, you kinda got used to that.
Profiteering assholes were everywhere. Finally one gas station opened and all of us were in some serious need of tobacco. I went in to buy a log or two of Grizzly mint... The sign on the shelf said 1.90 a can, he charged me 5.00 per can. When I pointed to the sign he replied: "That was before the hurricane sir" Well, it was tobacco not diapers so I didn't make too much of a fuss but I still walked out of there knowing I'd been screwed and there was nothing I could do about it. I paid my 50 bucks... and I had my tobacco.
I could sit and write for the next 5 hours of stories and adventures on Galveston Island and never come close to being able to tell you everything. So if there is something in particular you want to know about just leave a comment and I'll be happy to add another post.
As for now... I'm home. Hurricane Kyle doesn't look like he's going to do much so I can rest easy for a little while. It feels good to be home.
I got a new truck ... Things are going great with my girl ... The lawn is being taken care of ... The kids are doing excellent in school ... The bills are paid ... I bought a new mower ... and I plan on cleaning up my crap on Monday.