Hurricane Iron Chef

My dad is in Houston, out by FM1960 between 45 and 290, closer to Spring than Tomball, a few blocks from Cypress Creek and Strack. If that doesn’t mean anything to you: It’s the northwest side, far off from downtown, far away from the coast, and the eye of Hurricane Ike passed over to the east.

He’s got a cooler and a neighbor who gave him a bag of ice. Sunday was steak day. Today was chicken day. Tomorrow is hot dog day and then there is a summer sausage. After that there’s rice and beans, bread, and other canned stuff for weeks, velveeta, and butter.

Today he experimented in the back yard with solar heating and water. He had a lot of coffee cans and bottles, some metal containers, some plastic, experimenting with putting the small ones inside the big cans. Tomorrow he’ll try to figure out which experiment is the best heating system.

He had some vague memories of the Boy Scout Handbook from 1956. Isn’t there a handy way to boil water, with some trick to it, other than putting a plain old metal cup over a candle?

He also spent the day imagining episodes of Hurricane Iron Chef. You’ve got some hot dogs, a can of beans, velveeta, and a votive candle. What will you cook?

He’s worried about the hummingbirds. The flowers have all been blown away, so the hummingbirds have nothing to eat. He’s rigging up some sugar water dispensers out of red plastic bottlecaps.

Another guy on the street has a generator on a hand truck and has been wheeling it between his friend’s fridge and his own. One of those families has two baby squirrels they’re trying to keep alive.

He’s going to drive over to a nearby barn where he and my mom take riding lessons, to help with the horses. The fences all blew down, and the horses need exercise.

Our family friends (now living in San Antonio) had a summer house on the Bolivar Peninsula, two blocks from the beach, now likely washed away.

My dad had some choice words for “those FEMA jerks” but I will not repeat them, I’ve said plenty about them already and I try to keep this blog relatively free of swears. He did mention a few hundred police who were sent in as relief workers, who were based out of a nearby high school, and who did not get fed; what a screwup, doesn’t anyone think of supply and logistics?

It occurs to me someone should make Hurricane, the board game — not a go-around-the-board style of game but a simulation war game style with hex maps, roads, resources, etc.

My last report from Dad was that he wishes there were better news and information on the radio, reliably at all times. Periodic weather and status reports, for example, rather than talking heads saying stuff meant for a political audience and fools calling in getting answers from worse fools. (I am trying really hard not to swear; can you tell?)

Good luck to my Dad as he continues to “hunker down”. He is very good at living without luxuries, camping, and eating nothing but beans every day, from his time as a cowboy and two years in the Army. The only thing I really worry about is him getting stung by bees since he is very allergic and not good at keeping his Epipen around.

I have followed the news very closely the last week on The Houston Chronicle online. Thanks to the Sci Guy Eric Berger, to Dwight Silverman who does a lot of good blogging, and to Jeff Masters and others at the Weather Underground for amazingly good reporting.

If you are nearby you might want to call the Houston Food Bank or go help them. Or, in Austin, the Capitol Area food bank needs donations and volunteers, and in San Antonio, another food bank. I would say if you are in the area, work with immediate neighbors. But if you are from outside you might want to find a way to donate or volunteer.

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