The aftermath of Hurricane Ike brought power outages to over 2 million people in our area and the hardest hit were flooded. Galveston and the area south of Houston was hardest hit. Crystal Beach, on Bolivar Peninsula, for example is no more. Residents of Galveston are being told they may not be able to go home for a month.
Brennan's Restaurant was lost to fire during the storm. NASA has roof damage in the mission control. Reliant Stadium, built to the tune of 3/4 of a billion dollars and suppose to be able to sustain 130 mph winds, has damage to the retractable roof.
We lost power at 8:45 Friday night when our neighbor's tree limb hit the power line and caused a fire. Only our side of the block lost power. The other side lost power at 3:00 Saturday morning when the really bad stuff was happening here. The wind and rain was over by noon Saturday here. Our generator was on by 1:45 and three of our neighbors were connected to it, too.
Tropical storm winds, those that follow the storm impact, must subside before any kind of recovery work can be done. The press conferences were interesting yesterday as reporters were determined to ratchet up feelings of frustration that normally follow disasters. FEMA was the initial target and then the Governor's office. The facts are that FEMA trucks were pre-positioned as reported before the storm and arrived here in Houston as soon as they could - Reliant Stadium was receiving 18 wheeler trucks of supplies last night. The POD's (points of distribution) are established and are beginning to distribute the goods.
One local reporter in particular was intent on pursuing a line of questioning without any real merit. The FEMA trucks may have been able to get here a couple of hours earlier but it would not have made an impact on distribution. The state asked FEMA to distribute the supplies, unexpectedly on the part of FEMA, and it was handled well with the large volunteer base Houston is known to have.
Just 24 hours out of a major hurricane and search and rescue missions were underway in Galveston and surrounding areas. Supplies were being brought in and Blackhawk helicopters were patrolling the skies. Everything is going as well as can be expected.
The hardships of the aftermath bring out the good and bad in humans. We love to hear the neighbor helping neighbor stories. In our case, when we were running low on gas for the generator, our neighbor went out and found more. True, she wanted an excuse to enjoy her car's air-conditioning, but still it helped. Another neighbor hooked up to our generator will bring back some more as he gets out to see how everything is at his office.
The bad side of human nature is when those always taking advantage of a miserable situation, expecting instant government relief, are seen on camera complaining that they have run out of ice or water or diapers. People are told over and over to have 3 - 4 days of supplies on hand yet in today's instant gratification society, as soon as the winds die down, people are out there yelling about how they are suffering. Maybe they are waiting for FEMA cash cards to go to buy jewelry and designer clothes at the Galleria when the power comes back on. Not going to happen this time.
No two storms are alike. Hurricane Ike is different than Katrina yet just as devastating. No amount of pre-planning will allievate problems that will pop up specific to each event. The State of Texas was as prepared as it could be. The President moved "extremely rapidly" with a pre-landfall declaration because the governor asked. That according to Secretary of Homeland Defense Chertoff.
We are fortunate that our large, old oak trees in the front yard did not uproot or snap. Our very tall, old palm tree in the back yard survived well, too. No large branches on the roof or on the cars. No broken windows. The house held up. We are thankful.
The outdoor furniture was thrown into the swimming pool as we secured the back yard. It worked just fine, just like the hotels do it.
A silver lining has been the concentration of watching only local news stations or listening to them on the radio. We've only concerned ourselves with our part of the world. No cable tv news stations and political wars. I look forward to coming back full force on all that very soon.
We're waiting for electrical power to be restored. We're getting by and trying to be civil to each other when we're hot and tired and just want a hot shower and a cool room.
This, too, will pass.