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Shipping containers scattered along the docks of the Houston shipyard. photo by Bryan Cathie from After Ike: Aerial Views from the No-Fly Zone, courtesy Texas A&M University Press DATELINE I HOUSTON After Ike: Same As It Ever Was BY JENNIFER MATHIEU The night Hurricane Ike hit Houston, I was jittery and basically drunk by 7 p.m., having consumed all the Miller tallboys in our refrigerator to calm myself and prepare for the upcoming power outage \(though the storm would not hit moved in, thudding and howling, I called my best friend every io minutes until she lost reception. “I’m in a closet with the dog and the wine,” she said. “This is how I always thought it would end for me.” I repeatedly shook awake my apparently unconcerned husband, a native Houstonian who had lived through this before. “Kevin, what was that? What was that? OK, now what the hell was that?” But what I remember most is the morning after, when darkness finally left us. There was no power, just a trickle from the faucet, and when we peeked out the back door, we could not see our neighbor’s house through the fallen trees. Everything was a mucky-wet, leaves-and-branches-covered mess. I’d been awake for more than 24 hours, stressed, exhausted and afraid, listening to KUHF nonstop. When Mayor Bill White’s voice came through my tinny clock radio with updatesfirst in English, then in gringo Spanishtelling us to boil water and stay off the roads, I listened like a dutiful daughter listens to her dad. That’s how White sounds all the time, actually, like a very nice dad calmly explaining why you can’t have the car keys or that vegetables are good for you. I suspect that’s why he’s so popular. The morning after Ike, I craved the father-figure thing like never before, and nodded along with everything he said. “Please share with your neighbors. … This is no time to play in the ditches. … If you don’t need to bathe right now, don’t bathe right now.” I paid extra attention to White’s description of his journey through the passable parts of the city. “As I’ve been driving through, I’ve seen people helping their neighbors … I commend those citizens. The citizens of this community are going to need that help.” Maybe it was the exhaustion or the tallboy after effects, but something about “Dad’s” voice made me start crying. T kings I began to understand about Houston when I moved here almost io years ago: 1.We tear down any building more than five minutes old. 2.We are probably friendlier than people were wherever you came from. 3.We get it done. 4. Nobody else seems to like us very much, and this troubles us deeply. Living through Hurricane Ike and now, thinking about my city a year after the storm’s impact, I have come to realize that these tenets of Houstonianism were true, are true, and will most likely remain true forever. Galveston Island, our cousin to the south, is still far from normal and will surely be a different place when the rebuilding is finally complete. Galveston’s hurricane storyinarguably more devastatingis theirs to tell. But as a Houstonian, Ike and its aftermath have convinced me that this city is one of fundamental principles that can’t be shaken by natural disaster. Oh sure, the television weathermen’s latest Cassandra routines carry extra urgency \(“Are you prepared for hurricane season this the freeways, you can still spot bright blue tarps dotting the landscape like little oases, SEPTEMBER 4, 2009 TEXASOBSERVER.ORG 29