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Life, uninterrupted

Sharpstown couple learns firsthand the benefits of being prepared for the elements

Created date

August 21st, 2012

Houston s weather is anything but moderate. From scorching summer days to gale force winds and tropical storms, life on the gulf coast can be a challenge, meteorologically speaking. Just ask Manuel and Sandra Lewis. The couple was among the hundreds of thousands of gulf coast residents without power in the wake of Hurricane Ike in September 2008. As a stifling heat blanketed the city, the Lewises realized they needed a plan, and fast. We couldn t stand the heat, says Sandra. Neither could our dogs. We just couldn t cope. Fortunately, the couple had an ace up their sleeve, a backup plan that had been months in the making.

Unforeseen change

In early 2008, Manuel noticed a brochure in the mail fromEagle s Trace, the Erickson Living community in West Houston. Although the couple had lived in their Sharpstown home for 41 years with no intention of moving, the brochure intrigued Manuel. Everything looked so enticing, I thought we should check it out, says Manuel, a retired pharmacist for Walgreens. So the couple made their first visit to Eagle s Trace. They were impressed by the on-site amenities the fitness center, medical center, bank, restaurant, and caf . They liked the apartment homes and the landscaping around the community. They especially liked the fact that you could travel anywhere within Eagle s Trace without going outside. But they were hesitant to commit to the first place they visited. Manuel took me around to just about every retirement community in Houston, says Sandra. He s very thorough in his decision-making. The more the couple looked, the more they realized Eagle s Trace had everything they wanted. I finally told Manuel that I wasn t going to look at one more place where you had to go outside to get to the other buildings, says Sandra. Enclosed walkways were important to me. The couple returned to Eagle s Trace, picked out their apartment home, and put down a deposit. But they wanted to wait to move in until they sold their Sharpstown house.

Enter Mother Nature

Hurricane Ike hit on a Saturday. By Monday, Manuel and Sandra realized the heat was too much. Manuel called Eagle s Trace to ask if they could stay in one of the guest suites. The guest suites were already taken, says Manuel, but they told me we could stay in our apartment. The couple didn t hesitate. We didn t have any furniture except a metal table and two chairs in the kitchen, but we had air conditioning and meals in the restaurant, says Sandra. It was a vast improvement from being in our house. Our dogs, Rocket and Comet, were much happier too.

Here to stay

The following day, Manuel made a few calls with a cell phone on loan from Eagle s Trace. I realized we were here to stay, so I tried to arrange for a moving company to move our furniture to Eagle s Trace, he says. Unfortunately, the moving companies were all backed up due to the hurricane. The couple s son loaded two recliners in his truck and brought them over to the new apartment. We slept in those recliners until we could get the rest of our furniture, says Sandra. Around the community, we were known as that couple, as in that couple displaced by the hurricane. Now that they re settled at Eagle s Trace, Manuel and Sandra don t worry about weather conditions anymore. Eagle s Trace is well-prepared to weather a tropical storm or hurricane, says Mark Batterson, general services manager. We have a backup generator to power the community, a two-week supply of food, and emergency procedures in place. After Ike, we added a shatterproof coating to the clubhouse windows.

The benefits of having it all on hand

Most mornings you can find Manuel in the fitness center, putting miles on the treadmill. And every evening you can find the couple having dinner with friends in the restaurant. This is heaven, says Sandra.