Sunday, September 14, 2008 6:51:00 AM
by Ronald W. Hull
|Our story for those who are interested.
Dear Family and Friends,
Just a note to let everyone know that we are okay. We were well prepared when Ike came along and disrupted our lives for a couple of days so far. Everything was fine until about 9 PM Friday night when the power went out and we lost our television, radio, a/c. and my telephone because it is digital and cable. Electricity came on and off until 4 AM
Although Ike was violent with howling wind and rain through the night, it was not as bad as Alicia 25 years ago. This time we did not get any water driven in the windows, lose the roof vent, or any shingles. My mature trees didn't lose any branches except one. The only damage we had was the 5-foot cedar fence between my neighbor's property and mine that fell over and will have to be reinstalled.
We had a 50-gallon plastic water tub full, but in the morning we discovered a crack in the bottom of it, so we only had water in an old garbage container and some pails. While we could listen to radio in cars, it was a bit awkward because they were stuffed in the garage. We had a camping battery pack that provided AC but when we tried to use it to cook it destroyed our rice cooker after heating my coffee.
I persuaded Beh to use our gas lighter in our fireplace and within 10 minutes, she had made me bacon and an egg. Both of my electric wheelchairs were fully charged and would take at least four days to run the batteries down for each.
Without air-conditioning, Beh's father was having trouble breathing and his sons were having trouble with his oxygen, so they took him to the emergency at the Westside Hospital. After they saw the delay they would have to go through, he decided that he didn't want to stay there. As late as four o'clock they were considering driving him to Austin. Beh wanted me to go along, but there were no disabled rooms available.
And then, about 5 PM, the power came back on. Considering that power was off to about 2 million Centerpoint customers earlier in the day, it seemed miraculous that our power would be on so soon. Beh's sister had power and water so she had gone over there and came back with 10 gallons before the power came on.
Beh fixed the tub crack with tape and I told her to put it out under the neighbor’s roof. We got 8 inches of rain overnight and the tub was full! Unfortunately, there is flooding in many areas.
Our hearts go out to all those that lost so much in the areas hardest hit. Our tenant invited a friend and her mother over last night who did not have power, and Beh may have two of her friends over. Her father has oxygen now and is better. Her brothers’ homes only had minor damage.
Ron and Busy Beh
Centerpoint has restored 500,000 customers. That leaves 75% of the Houston area without power. There are long lines at the few gas stations and stores open here on the west side. Beh went to her shop on Westheimer today, because it has power. There are no stoplights and many business and signs are damaged, but her shopping center is fine. The Thai restaurant next door serve many yesterday.
Texas Southern University won't be open soon. The parking lot behind my building is being used as a Point of Distribution for ice, MREs, tarps, and other necessities by FEMA. The neighborhood has many old trees down, hampering electrical repair. TSU has underground power and many emergency generators, so it may be up soon.
I'm home working on the cover of the second edition of Kaleidoscope. Progress is slow with the constant news stream on TV.
Spent the day on Kaleidoscope, watching the local news.
Electricity is slow to come on. You can check the progress by going to Centerpointenergy.com, and then to the outages and updates link to the latest maps of what's out in red. We have underground power and are very lucky. Over 5900 customers in our zip code don't have power. At least it is dry and cool, lessening the need for a/c.
Long lines and frustration with loss of basics is starting to simmer. So many depend on government to bail them out. Governor Perry said today the PODs were only for those driven from their homes, but those interviewed had minor damage to their homes, just hadn't planned for being without for long. Some are hoarding. Some are looting. Many are driving around too much because they are not working--just wasting gasoline.
At noon, today the compassionate Mayor of Galveston announced a "look and leave" from 6 am to 6 pm for evacuated citizens. So many came, it disrupted recovery efforts and the program is suspended.
The mayor of Houston recommends that people with power, food, water, ice, and money share their resources. We can't depend upon PODs, stores, gas stations, and employers to provide. We must share and conserve to recover.
I expect that we may have rioting in some areas before it is over.
Centerpoint announced that it will have half, or about a million, customers back with power by next Tuesday. The rest may take months.
TSU called us with an automated call to go back to work today, but I didn't get it. I will return to work tomorrow with the students and attend a meeting in Austin on Friday.
Galveston will take several months to be viable. Many will not be able to rebuild in low-lying and beach front properties. Much of the Bolivar Peninsula was obliterated and may never return.
Drove 20 miles to work today. The freeway flowed nicely except for minor accidents going and coming. City streets were clogged in places where street lights are still out.
The damage to signs, trees, roofs, and major buildings seemed to be less than Alicia. Near TSU there was lots of debris, but it was mostly branches. In 1983, most of the houses in that area lost shingles and whole roofs. The debris then was mostly from structures.
This time, it is power. Centerpoint is way behind peoples' expectations. Many are angry and unserved.