Flooding devastated Houston after Hurricane Harvey struck in late August. (Jen Richman photo)

Adventures in hurricane hell

Columnist ML Burke took a Caribbean cruise five days after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston

I booked a writing retreat on a Caribbean cruise over a year ago. It was to sail out of Galveston, Texas, on Sept. 10, five days after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston. Soon Irma, Jose, Katia and Maria would follow with a vengeance. I waffled on cancelling right up to the day of my flight to Houston, made a guilt-ridden donation to the Red Cross and headed into hurricane hell.

Flying into Houston revealed many areas still flooded because of daily releases of water to keep the reservoirs from bursting. My shuttle to Galveston passed piles of garbage and debris waiting for pick-up on the sides of highways. Galveston, an oversized sandbar with a lot of history, had some flooding but recovered quickly, especially since cruise ships were being diverted from Miami to the Galveston docks.

The next day I tried to get a taxi to the ship but was told it could take two to three hours. The hotel suggested I use Uber or Lyft. After downloading the Uber app, my ride was there in five minutes and the retired cop gave me an informed 45-minute tour of the old Victorian houses on stilts before dropping me at the ship. The cost was only $17 for the clocked time plus a good tip he deserved for the tour. I’m now a fan and can see how of Uber and/or Lyft would help our transit issues here, especially for seniors.

Once aboard, we had two days of rocking and rolling from Irma’s wrath. Twenty-foot swells were sick-making for about half of the 4,000 passengers; thankfully I wasn’t one of them. The rest of the trip was calm except for being in the company of thousands of U.S. southerners. Our writing coordinator, a Texan, wisely suggested we avoid political discussions. I tried, I really did, but they’re just so “goll-danged friendly” that it’s impossible to avoid interacting.

Later, at our first dinner, a charismatic insurance salesman informed me he was carrying an unconcealed weapon, which was legal in Texas. The stunned look on my face prompted him to say “Don’t worry darlin’, in Texas we’re not allowed to drink alcohol when carrying.” Thank goodness for small mercies, thought I.

I asked why he would need his weapon on a cruise ship. He answered, “Ma’am (pronounced ‘may-am’), there are lots of crazy people out there,” whereupon he invited me to his gun club event in Tucson next month. I could shoot most any gun I want, including automatic weapons. Taking his card, I thanked him and said I would have to check my calendar.

Truth be told, my alt-self actually considered it for a moment. I’ve adopted their Southern drawl, watched fake news on Fox and contemplated a weekend of shooting. I kind of liked being called darlin’, sweet lady and ma’am.

After this eight-day soirée into this alternate universe, it was lovely to come home to our relatively benign Canadian politics.

Y’all take care now, y’hear?


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

ML Burke retired from the health sector to work on issues such as affordable housing. She sits on the Delta Seniors Planning Team and the BC Seniors Advocate’s Council of Advisors.

Just Posted

Delta police request public assistance to find stolen boat

The 21-foot boat was stolen from Mitchell Way on Dec. 11

Reported pedestrian incident in Surrey bogging down traffic on 152nd Street

A pedestrian accident southbound on 152nd Street near 93rd Avenue is slowing down the commute

Border officers to rally at Peace Arch crossing

‘No desire to inconvenience the public’

Surrey urged to ‘rethink how they donate’ after mess on 135A Street

‘It creates quite a mess and we’re trying to keep that area really clean’ says Surrey Urban Mission director

Delta mosque holds Interfaith symposium asking ‘does religion promote extremism?’

The fourth annual event was organized by Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at British Columbia Women’s Association

Me Too At Work: Sexual assault and harassment in the B.C. workplace

Introducing an in-depth look at who is affected and what can be done

Quarter of students were away sick at Maple Ridge elementary school

Students and teachers at Maple Ridge school away with colds, flu.

Suspect in Revelstoke standoff killed himself: RCMP

Mohammadali Darabi, suspect in the Calgary homicide of his roommate, was stopped in Revelstoke

Clinton visits Vancouver, applauds Trudeau, celebrates Democrats’ win in Alabama

Clinton told crowd she cheered when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed the country’s first gender-balanced cabinet.

VIDEO: Salt Spring Islanders ferry piano to their floating home

Everyone enjoys a little music on the water, but not everyone has a piano on their boat

Frustrated federal workers rally against Phoenix payroll system at B.C. MP’s office

Some employees out tens of thousands of dollars with ‘no end in sight’

Bomb detonated in Kamloops neighbourhood

Kamloops RCMP are investigating after an improvised explosive device was detonated Wednesday morning

No More Shootouts: Strong defence will be Canada’s backbone at world juniors

Head coach doesn’t want a situation where a hot goalie or a lucky bounce can determine a team’s fate

Maple Ridge becomes the mysterious haunt of the X-Files

Stars of sci-fi series show up in Memorial Peace Park

Most Read