Ike at the ARK
I suppose there are different ways to become hurricane victims: Even here in Port Aransas, spared the major effects of Hurricane Ike, we were all victims in a way. We did not know whether it was coming here or not even until it was almost too late to get off the island if it did (although we all probably knew it was going north, or did we?), the west-northwest track seemed to point right here.
So just the anxiety of indecision (Do we board up? Are we going to leave and if so, when? Will there be a mandatory evacuation? What shall we take and what shall we sacrifice if our houses are flooded? What about the pets?)
Although none of them are pets, the ARK has many animals in our care, around 60 at the time those decisions were to be made. Some were ready for release and were set free. Others could go with volunteers or ARK workers who left for higher ground. Some were simply too big to evacuate (the 200-pound Barnacle Bill the loggerhead, for example), but most had to be relocated at the ARK to safer enclosures. The upstairs of the Turtle Building, built they said, to withstand hurricane winds, was crowded with birds, reptiles and mammals.
And so Ike came and Ike went. We had high tides with some flooding, but no wind and no rain, and a day later we had to put all the creatures of the ARK back where they normally lived. It was then that I became a hurricane victim suffering physical effects as the storm anxiety subsided. Trying to capture a brown pelican, I ran at full speed into a 2 x 4 at head height. My fellow pelican catchers told me my legs went up in the air, cartoon fashion, as old Moe Mentum sent me backwards.
"Take a deep breath!" they said.
"I'm fine," I answered and continued to groggily catch the pelicans one by one, handing them over the fence to our human pelican chain to get them back to their enclosure. A slight dent to the forehead and some whiplash neck-pain was all I suffered.
The next day, I just had to do the beach to see what the high water and waves had done. The beach was still under water, but I was able to make it from Access Road 1 to 2 without leaving my truck as a beach landmark (although I couldn't get off the beach at #2 due to debris piled high).
A lot of erosion had occurred, leaving the pole I use to take timelapse photos of the dunes about two feet higher than it was before Ike (two feet of sand had washed away). There was no way I could reach up and peer through the camera viewfinder as it was now above my head. So what to do? I got the "Executive Pelican Carrier" out of the truck and climbed on it to gain height. In doing so, I somehow broke a toe (or it hurt as much as breaking a toe would). So now I have "Head", Neck", "Back" (from lifting all those heavy pieces of plywood, must-save-souvenirs, turtles and pelicans), and now "Toe", all victims of the hurricane, though none caused by Ike's winds, waves or tides.
Some other results of Ike's passage:
• We lost an average of 50 feet of dunes at nine measuring sites between Access Roads 1 and 2 (range 37 feet - 58 feet).
• Contrast this to Tuesday's 71.3- degree air temp, 71 percent humidity, and 77.5-degree sea temperature taken at the same time.
• Now look at the charts of barometric pressure and sea level here in Port Aransas (at the UTMSI Pier). Note that the pressure falls below 1,000 millibars, something it seldom does here, as Ike's center passes us to the east At the same time, the sea level rises to just over 4 feet above low tide (exact level not yet confirmed, but the relative rise shown in the chart is good). Forgive the odd time axis (I use the number of hours elapsed so far this year). The vertical grid lines are at midnight each day from Sept. 1-16.