September 26, 2005

Houston and Rita

Yeah! Reports are that we will miss the bulk of the hurricane. There is still the real threat of tropical forces winds and heavy rain. We expect some of Houston to be without power.

The hospital is like a summer camp. With so many doctors and staff, and almost NO patients, we’re sitting around playing cards and watching television. I go to bed when someone breaks out the Taboo board.

I am given an air-mattress, pillow, and blanket. My choices are to sleep in my office (an interior room with no windows!) or in a large room with cots lined end-to-end. Most people choose their offices.

John and our friends call me to tell me what a party they’re having! They made sloppy joes, watched movies, and are playing spades. Everyone is relieved that the hurricane has by-passed us, but they plan to remain together to monitor the rain and wind damage.

Pretty anti-climactic. There are strong wind gusts, but only slight rain. We are under a tropical storm advisory until 4pm.

My biggest plan for the morning is to figure our where to shower and get a cup of coffee. Everything is closed, but they say they will provide breakfast at 8:30am. I don’t know when they’ll send me home, but hopefully later this afternoon.

Thanks for riding out the storm with me! I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful family.

P.S. Fill up your gas tanks now, because many oil refineries were destroyed and gas prices are expected to rise.

September 23, 2005

Hurricane email from Houston hospital

My brother just emailed me from a hospital in Houston:

Hey, dude.

I don’t have access to the rest of my email list, but this server is still up and running. Could you forward this to the whole family?


John and I spent the past two days weather-proofing our house. Houston has been crazy: there is no bottled water, plywood, batteries, or gasoline. When shipments come in, there are 3-5 hour lines to get supplies, and you’re not guaranteed to get anything before they run out.

We managed to find a handy-man to board up some of our more exposed windows. We have some pretty strong storm windows on the rest of the house.


The roads have been jammed for the past 24 hours. People have been sitting in their cars on the freeways for over 12 hours. With no gas and food, people are forced to turn around and return home or sit by the side of the road and wait for emergency services to provide some gas or direct them to hastily-erected relief shelters. The mayor announced if you have not left by last night, you should be prepared to weather the storm.

John decided to invited some friends to our house. We made a central shelter in our living room, which can be blocked off from any windows, and moved all of our bottled water, food, and cat supplies. We filled lots of buckets with water for sanitary purposes. The weather service announced the first thunderstorms would move in around noon, and the bulk of the storm will hit sometime between 2am-6am.

I reported to work for a 72 hour shift. Fearing the total devastation of the city, Texas Children’s organized all available staff into two shifts: the “riders” who will remain in the hospital for 72 hours and the “relief team” who will report on Sunday (if possible.) I arrived at noon to find all the parking lots had been filled up. I managed to find one of the last spots in the outermost garage (on the fifth floor, thank goodness). The hospital told me to bring enough food and water to last myself three days. They have set up dormitory-style air mattresses for people when they are not working. Most people are sitting around, resting, waiting for their shifts to start.

We don’t anticipate any power loss or structural damage in the hospital itself, although we’re pretty much ready for anything. The biggest concern is after the hurricane has passed, when people seeking medical care and shelter could quickly overwhelm our capacity.

I send out another update when I can.

Thank you for all your love and support.