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Gulf Coast Resident Provides Glimpse Of Hurricane

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Pat Dowell occasionally files for NPR. She lives in Baytown, Texas. That's about half a mile from the waters of Galveston Bay. She chose not to evacuate that mandatory evacuation zone. She joins us on the line from her home. Pat, first, how are you?

PAT DOWELL: Well, we're fine. We're fine. But we've discovered that the back of the storm, which really started coming in about six - you know, during the eye it was deathly still for about an hour or so - when the back of the storm started coming through and the winds switched around to the opposite direction, we have found that it was a more violent storm. Really we've seen bigger gusts and longer gusts of really high winds, and a much wetter storm. So that now we have, you know, rain inches deep, two or three inches let's say, on sidewalks around the house, and so forth. And we haven't really because of the wind and rain been able to venture out terribly far in our cars, which we wouldn't get into anyway because they are blocked off by fallen trees.

And we've had many more trees fall since I spoke with you last and since the beginning of the storm. The back of the storm has seen many more trees come down. I have to admit that a lot of them in our neighborhood are in our yard because we had many old trees, 60, 70 years old. And none have hit the house or hit the cars yet, or hit neighbors' houses, I might add. But, you know, the city of Baytown shut down the sewage system yesterday because they don't want to take the chance of the water system becoming contaminated. So, we are not only without power since 11 p.m. last night, but essentially our water and sewage are cut off as well. I think we'll be shopping for a generator next time.

SIMON: And you're just a few blocks from what I'm told is the largest oil refinery in the United States. Can you see anything?

DOWELL: Well, we could see it much better at night because it lit up the sky, and actually provided an impressive backlight for all of the debris flying about. And this morning it's much harder to tell what's going on there. We haven't been able to walk over that far or to drive that far because the wind is still very, very fierce. And apparently we have another hour of this wind yet to go, and frankly it would be too dangerous because of the debris to walk out very far. So, all of the neighbors who stayed - and it's mostly the older neighbors who stayed because I think they have some experience with hurricanes, who have hunkered down - and basically we've kept in touch with each other by cell phones, which are still working.

SIMON: Now, you...

DOWELL: But I was sorry to hear that Brennan's has been destroyed downtown, and I was sorry to hear that there is extensive flooding all over Houston from news reports. And I imagine this will be a long time in seeing repairs done to Houston and the surrounding cities, the little cities like Baytown all around Houston, and especially around the Bay where the surge was.

SIMON: Thank you very much for speaking with us. We've got to go to some political news...

DOWELL: Ah yes, I'll have to catch up on political news myself.

SIMON: Pat Dowell in Baytown, Texas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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