Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Comcast Sucks, Hurricanes Blow and Other Assorted Woes, Part 3: Preparation

One thing I left out of my previous entry was that we had had an appointment for Comcast to come replace our cable/internet line on Friday. This was necessary because the grounds crew for the complex mowed over it again. Because the last time it was replaced, the Comcast contractor didn't bury the line properly. My dh called and raised hell and got us an appointment for a week from the time we found the severed wire, which was a small miracle, given that it normally takes three weeks for a re-wire. But of course, most businesses were boarding up and shutting down and sending their employees home on Friday, and understandably so. It's not like you can order OnDemand porn without electricity, after all, so it was hardly pressing. Nevertheless, when we called Comcast on Thursday, we were assured that we were still a priority and that we were one of the few appointments that had not been rescheduled and they would be there between 11:00 and 2:00.

We awoke Friday morning, sleepy but ready to get going. Dh took over the outside work of preparing the patio and securing the outdoor things while I took on the storage closet we planned to hunker down in. Our goals for the day were to be as ready as possible. I wanted all the laundry done, the dishes done, the bathrooms completely cleaned and the dining room table cleared off before the tropical storm force winds were expected to hit. I wished we could go in search of batteries and ice, but we had to stay and wait for the Comcast crew. Dh called again at 11 and was assured again that they were coming out.

We cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned. I ran out of cleaning materials and needed new gloves and Comet to really work on the toilet stains (I'm not entirely sure why it was crucial at that moment, but the bowls were stained and nothing else worked, so I figured I would give it a shot - worked like a charm, btw. Comet and elbow grease has those bitches looking like new - better than they have since before we bought the place, that's for damn sure). We debated about a quick run to CVS up the street, but it was 1:00 and they hadn't showed yet. DH called them again and was reassured again that they were coming, and they warned us the crew might be late, but promised they would be there. We went ahead and ran to CVS and were back in 10 minutes. We kept working, putting clothes away and vacuuming, mopping, getting the stuff from the storage closet placed securely elsewhere. The guest room/nursery is packed with shit we need to get rid off and the patio set from our balcony (that has seen better days).

The house was looking better than it had in ages, though the dining room was (and still is not) completely cleared. We were getting tired and taking longer and longer breaks.

Why so focused, when I haven't had energy to clean in weeks? DH is convinced I was afraid we'd die and FEMA would come in and judge the dirty house. Which, lol, is not true. It was a couple things. One, knowing that we needed the kitchen and bathrooms to be clean, in case we had to tend to injuries and needed a sterile environment. Two, knowing we might be unable to flush the toilets for awhile and that if they were clean to start with, it would be easier to bear. Three, knowing that if something came through our dining room window, everything on the table and in that room would be a projectile. Four, knowing that we'd be stuck without power for days, possible a week or more (so they were beginning to tell us on the news) and that I wouldn't be able to clean without water or being able to bathe afterwards and that the heat would be too oppressive to make frequent climbing of the stairs or closet reorganization palatable and that I would be distraught at the state of the house after the days without power. Finally, it was an effort to remain calm. I was starting to get seriously concerned about the wisdom of our decision. My parents were frequently checking in and during each conversation they asked if we were sure we wanted to stay. It was weakening my resolve, just as the news was forecasting more dire circumstances than they had previously.

So why did we stay? Well, as the first entry in this series should make clear, we were pretty resolved not to enter that hellishness again, especially compounded by having a dog and cat in close proximity in the backseat. And while I'm not one to be mulish about my property, since we're insured, I was a little loath to leave it there, knowing we have big 2-story windows in the living room and that the liklihood of hurricane damage was higher than I was comfortable leaving behind.

Additionally, the news was quite sobering. A massive storm surge was expected - at the time, they were predicting 20 ft. That is a wall of water 20 ft high hitting Galveston Island. Now, I'm not going to tell you where in the greater Houston area we live, but it is NOT in the storm surge zone. Those people were in real danger. They, and other people likely to be adversely affected by flood plains needed to get out. The best thing the rest of us could do is swallow down our fear and leave the roads open to those people to get to safety. Yes, we were afraid, but this was no Category 5 hurricane. On Wednesday and Thursday, they kept repeating that while citizens were free to do as they would, it was highly recommended that those of us not in mandatory or even declared voluntary evacuation zones stay put and let those folks get out who needed to get out. A big portion of what caused the Rita evac debaucle was the fact that a whole lot of people who really didn't need to evacuate were frightened by Katrina a month before and rushed to leave. It caused big problems. The news was taking a much different tone than it had withRita - it was trying hard to be calming and reassuring, consistently referring to the emergency set-up prepared by Gov. Rick Perry in San Antonio, and repeating the phrase - "Run from water, hide from wind." and comparing Ike to previous storms that Houstonians had weathered with aplomb. They reiterated that we should prepare to be without power for a few days and have our supplies - and we had that.

We felt, given all that, that we were best off staying put. Now mind you, the closer we got, the more nervous I got. After all, I think it's hard to look down at a storm bringing winds in excess of 100 mph and be sedate about it. And now that people were pretty stuck where they were, the news focus was changing. Things I had not understood before were popping into place. For some reason, I had expected that the storm would be like most others, only more intense. I had not planned to shelter in the crawl space under the stairs for 6-12 hours, which is how long they were now telling us storm force winds would be around. I was not prepared for the noise of things or for power to go out before the storm hit. Silly things like that, but it was increasingly worrisome to me.

It's hard to explain to people who weren't in the hell that was that Rita evac or to people who weren't listening to our news coverage and the urgency with which they were telling us to 'shelter in place' that there is logic and sanity behind a decision to still still as a storm that is 500 miles wide, with 100 mph winds, a massive kinetic energy creating potentially the worst storm surge in local history bears down on you. My parents were not sympathetic to my growing fears, telling me they thought all along we should have evacuated. But now it was too late.

Comcast never showed, btw. We talked to them again at 2:00, again at 3:00 and were told what we'd been told the other 3 times - the crew was behind, but they'd be there. Be patient, and they'll be there, yes, we promise that they'll be there. The final call at 4:00 was the one to say what we'd been expecting all along. They weren't coming, awfully sorry, but hey, they rescheduled us for Wednesday! DH was livid, and I was too, but I couldn't blame them too much. My fears were too heavy to care much about cable that wouldn't be on for much longer than a few hours anyway.

Up next, dinner and the calm before the storm.

1 comment:

ComcastCares1 said...

I am glad that you have surpassed the hurricane. I am praying for the speedy recovery and relief for the victims severely damaged by the hurricane.

I also read that your Comcast tech did not show up for the service call. I work for Comcast and I would like to help. Please feel free to send me the phone number on the account if you are interested in my assistance.

Mark C.
Comcast Corp.