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Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I'm just now getting back online after Hurricane Ike. It's been a hectic and stressful past week and a half.

When the storm first formed I had a bad feeling that it was going to be trouble. With a name like "Ike" you just knew it was going to be a problem. On September 10th I woke up with a certainty that it was going to hit the Galveston/Houston area. On September 11th my family and I evacuated to Tyler, Texas.

This evacuation went far smoother than the debacle that was the evacuation for Hurricane Rita. We only encountered a few pockets of heavy traffic on our way out of Houston and then again between Lufkin and Tyler. The one big problem we encountered was on Highway 69 just outside of Lufkin when we met up with all of the traffic evacuating from the Beaumont area. It was then, during the heavy traffic, that our truck's fan belt and water pump started to go out. I was getting more than a little bit concerned, since it was night, and we were in a "dead zone" area where none of our cell phones worked. Fortunately, the truck was able to hold up until we made it into Tyler.

We stayed with relatives in Tyler for four days. My profound gratitude and thanks to John and Judy Idrogo for graciously putting us up...and for putting up with our dog Sam. They also knew a good mechanic who was able to fix our truck. Even 250 miles inland in Tyler we experienced high winds and some heavy rain.

On September 14th we drove back into Houston. Along the way power was out pretty much from just outside Tyler all the way back home. There were only a few gas stations open and there were already long lines forming. Most of the traffic signals were also out from Lufkin all the way to Houston.

Our house escaped any serious damage but we do have a fence down in the backyard. There was also a lot of fallen trees and limbs in our neighborhood. Our front yard had a fair amount of branches and other storm debris scattered about when we returned. We were also without electricity until two days ago.

On September 15th I ventured into downtown Houston since my office was open and at least had air conditioning and power. Downtown was still a real mess. None of the traffic signals worked and several streets were closed to traffic. The area around the Chase Tower was very heavily damaged. The pictures of the damage to the building don't do it justice. I walked by to get a better look and had to cross streets filled with shards of broken glass. For about the first 30 floors, every window on one side of the building had been blown out. At the main entrance the revolving doors had been twisted beyond recognition and were frozen shut. I've never seen that level of destruction in person before. Most of the rest of downtown was empty and there were only a handful of restaurants that were open.

Things slowly but surely began to return to normal throughout the rest of the week. Gas remained in short supply and there were long lines at gas stations for the first few days. By midweek more gas stations, restaurants and stores began to open. Things are mostly back to normal now, though many people are still without power and a curfew is still in effect.

Galveston Island
was very heavily damaged from the storm surge. Even though the hurricane was only a category 2, when it made landfall it produced a category 4 storm surge. Both Orthodox parishes in Galveston sustained significant damage. Fr. Serge Veselinovich of Sts. Constantine and Helen Serbian Orthodox Church has set up a blog for the Galveston Orthodox community with updates and pictures of the damage.

Galveston also lost one of its most famous landmarks the Balinese Room. The famous nightclub was located on a pier that was completely destroyed. The Balinese Room was once a well known hot spot that hosted Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, George Burns and other famous performers. The Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe was also heavily damaged but is already planning to reopen as soon as possible.
Houston also lost Brennan's one of its best restaurants and a midtown landmark.

I was also disappointed that a number of concerts I had planned to attend were canceled including: Nanci Griffith with Guy Clark and the Robert Plant & Alison Krauss show.

Prayers are requested for all those still dealing with the aftermath and destruction caused by Hurricane Ike. One of my cousins sustained very severe damage to his home in Bridge City and he and his family will have to rebuild once again. His home was also damaged during Hurricane Rita. Many others in Southeast Texas face the same situation.

Donations for Hurricane Ike relief efforts can be made to the Red Cross and the International Orthodox Christian Charities.



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