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September 15, 2008

Downtown Houston tries to get a handle on cleanup

Posted: 11:35 AM ET

The suit wearing, Starbucks-sipping folks who usually populate downtown Houston on a workday are MIA this Monday morning. They have been replaced with crews using chain saws to move fallen trees out of the streets, and huge trucks hauling generators and cleanup materials.

Windows blew out of high rise buildings in downtown Houston when Ike roared through. It’s an eerily quiet workday this Monday. Photo: CNN

Julio Cisne, who manages a couple of buildings on Main Street, feels very fortunate.

“I only lost two windows,” he said, as he swept up glass next to the Subway restaurant on the first floor. And he’s luckier than the huge majority in this hurricane-ravaged region - his buildings have both water and power.

A few blocks away, three downtown workers are sharing stories and fears with each other.

Marie Elizondo works for a law firm, and waited out the storm in a Houston high rise. While the building she was in fared pretty well, she and the people she hunkered down with witnessed some scary moments watching other buildings on the block.

“We watched the glass pop out, then we saw chairs and computers just flying out the windows,” she said. Shattered glass continued to fall long after Ike departed.

Mary Ann Shelvin and Marciano Leyba both have huge cleanups at home, but reported for work at Ampco System Parking.

“My daughter kept asking, ‘Mom, what’s that?’ when she heard that wind whistling,” said Shelvin. But she is proud that people are helping each other out.

“My neighborhood is trying to stick together,” she said. The people on her block have moved trees and swept up limbs and leaves. But a lot of trees are on top of houses, and virtually no one has power.

Both Elizondo and Shelvin are grateful for the curfew imposed after the storm, to try to keep looters and sightseers from making a bad situation worse.

“We all work too hard for our stuff,” said Shelvin.

And they have seen many random, kind acts. A TV crew let Elizondo charge up her cell phone. A local furniture company gave away ice.

It is a pleasant 71 degrees in Houston today… a welcome respite for people who probably won’t hear an air conditioner click on for weeks.

Marsha Walton, CNN Science and Technology Producer, in Houston

Filed under: hurricanes

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Franko   September 15th, 2008 2:42 pm ET

Large tall, recently engineered buildings are safest, even in earthquakes.
More likely to die driving to evacuate

S Callahan   September 15th, 2008 4:34 pm ET

Our prayers are with you in Texas....I'm surprised there is not more reporting on the number of people coming from out of the state to help with the clean up. The Gov. and Mayor have done a great job advocating for their people, and holding federal agencies accountable to their word.

Bruce   September 15th, 2008 8:25 pm ET

This is what we do best as Americans. We buck up and soldier on. I am proud of the people of Texas for showing others that we know how to deal with adversity, and it doesn't require acting like a victim. We all have to pitch in and help out. It is how we built this great country from nothing. My prayers are with you all.

Franko   September 16th, 2008 3:46 am ET

Katrina damage was 68.5 billion dollars. Ike might be 100 billion.
Looking at Ike damage video, lucky that so few dead

Kat, Houston, TX   September 16th, 2008 9:30 am ET

Thanks for remembering us here in Houston. Seems like we are no longer the top story on news websites. I'm at school right now, and most of us to do not have power at home. The gas lines are crazy and I do not know if I will be able to make it to school by the end of the week due to the down traffic lights, power lines, and lack of gas. Maybe when President Bush comes today, the rest of the country will remember us again!

Kat, Houston, TX   September 16th, 2008 9:31 am ET

Also...FEMA, really? Three years after Katrina and you still can't get it together?

Patty Rumpza   September 16th, 2008 1:45 pm ET

Please report that FEMA is failing again! Houston is out of ice, water. The Mayor just said Houston is having a shortage. FEMA is blaming the stte, state blaming local government, they blaming local officials.
Please put Houston back on the news- you are the only ones who can!

Wisdom   September 16th, 2008 6:30 pm ET

FEMA rocks man... they are doing such a great job here....

Knowing 5 Million people would need things right away I went ahead and stocked up on what I'd need...

It's sad when people stand around doing nothing in advance... and then waiting for help complain when it takes a day...

CB_Brooklyn   September 17th, 2008 12:09 am ET

Not many know that a major hurricane – Hurricane Erin – was in the Atlantic Ocean in September of 2001. In fact, Erin was closest to NYC, and at its largest size, on 9/11 itself. Interestingly, the National Hurricane Center projected Erin to be stronger than it projected Katrina to be four years later. Shouldn’t they have prepared the upper-east coast for this major storm? Weather reports at JFK Airport indicated rain! The day after 9/11, Erin made a sharp right-hand turn (over 90°) away from NYC and back out to the Atlantic. An astronaut in the International Space Station commented on the WTC smoke plume, but made no mention of the monstrous hurricane next to it. How come? Those interested in learning the secret between hurricanes and Tesla Coils should see Dr Judy Wood’s new paper "9/11 Weather Anomalies and Field Effects". She presents evidence suggesting Erin was part of the mechanism used to turn the Twin Towers to dust. The paper is chock full of photos and analysis and is highly recommended.

Big Foot   September 19th, 2008 8:28 pm ET

Hi CB_Brooklyn. My alien friends send you their apologies. Seems the anal probes affected your brain.

CB_Brooklyn   September 19th, 2008 8:46 pm ET

Childish rantings only reaffirm the validity of my claims.

Franko   September 20th, 2008 8:15 pm ET

"Please report that FEMA is failing again! "

The God called FEMA, helps those who help themselwes
FEMA, like all Gods, fails the test, God particle not Black Hole destroy us.

Public relations, adwertising, propaganda. USA will, democracy, free Burma ?

wtcmedic911   September 22nd, 2008 12:31 pm ET

We are blessed that so few people died due to IKE. CB_Brooklyn ever hear of a high pressure front? it pushes hurricanes around. sometimes a spade is just a spade. get over it....

johnell deloach   September 27th, 2008 9:40 pm ET

this is another sad case of hurrican horry in the houston area. my prayers goes out to them.

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