Please forgive the brevity of this diary. I've been up for almost two days and am tired. My family and I weathered the hurricane in Waller County (directly NW of Houston) with my mother and lost power around 5am the morning of the storm. It's amazing how quickly quality of life deteriorates without electricity and water.
Anyway... as it turns out, my apartment in West Houston is one of the few places with electricty right now. My family and I relocated and we are at least cool and have news again, although water is still a precious commodity and it would be easier to find the Hope Diamond than a bag of ice 'round these parts.
The only reason I'm not passed out on my couch enjoying the pure ecstasy of air conditioning is below the fold.
I'm watching the local news coverage of the aftermath of Ike and would like the DKos community to know two things:
- FEMA is dropping the ball again. FEMA is blaming it on state officials but if I know the look on my mayor's (Bill White) face, he was NOT in agreement with Chertof's excuse. Our state officials (such as Nick Lampson... ya'll remember him, right? Tom Delay's former district) were told that ice and water and food were HERE. Not "on the way" but HERE. Now we are being told by FEMA that not only were they not here, they are still (24 hours after the storm) "on the way". With Kelly Air Force base in San Antonio, I really have NO clue why getting a few Chinooks with some supplies in the air and on the way to Houston is not possible. They could land in the Reliant Stadium parking log and ice and water could then be distributed to other parts of the city. I mean, come ON. This storm was no suprise. After Katrina, after Rita, after Gustav... they STILL do not have their shit together?
Ice and water are precious commodities here now. Lines are forming at the few open grocery stores and restaurants. In the heat, tempers are fraying. Luckily we are expecting a cool front and patience will no doubt be easier to come by in the lower temps. Many, many people are still out of power and/or water. I'm one of the lucky ones... I now have power and even internet and cable. Water is my only concern.
- They are not letting the media into certain parts of Galveston Island and Bolivar Penninsula. From what I understand, these are the hardest hit areas and they aren't even letting media FLY over the areas. Wayne Dolcefino from our local ABC news affiliate is PISSED. It is his belief that the media is not being allowed in because the government wants to control what is seen... they do not want Katrina-like images to flood the national news. Gov. "Goodhair" Perry's response? Basically, "I do not control federal airspace." Sounds to me like he's telling us "It's not Texas officials that won't let you in, it's the Feds."
So there is a media blackout of the hardest hit areas. Even my Republican mother said "Unacceptable." She was quite angry, as we all are.
In summary... over 24 hours after Ike there is no ice, no water, no food and we're short on fuel. FEMA says "It's on the way" but won't tell us where it is.
And there is a media blackout of the hardest hit areas. Which is why you, my friends, might not be seeing alot of coverage on this. Locally we're seeing a lot, of course, but I have no idea what you're seeing on the national news.
Believe this Houstonian when I tell you that it's bad. The fourth largest city in the country is crippled right now and you are not seeing the whole story via the media. And our media is trying, believe me.
I apologize for this disjointed diary... it could have been much better I'm sure. Now that my family and I are safe and sound and I have power again I am weary to the bone. I just had to get this out there.
Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers during all of this. Believe me when I tell you that it does indeed make a difference knowing that so many people out there are pulling for us.
UPDATE: Apparently the ice, water and food are "on the way" to Reliant Stadium and will most likely be distrubuted from there to PODS... (um, Points of Distribution, maybe?).. all over the city. They are not disclosing where the supplies are at the moment or where the PODS will be. Likely this is to prevent a stampede of tired, hot and thirsty people. I can only assume that people will be unable to receive these supplies until tomorrow since there is a week-long curfew of 9pm to 6am. My plan was to drive around this evening and/or very early in the morning to try and find some place, any place, with ice. With the implementation of the county-wide curfew that plan won't work now.
To be fair, we've all known since Katrina that we should always have two days (at least) of food and water. My family and I have food... we have bottled water. Ice is something we could use to save some of our food and for many without power ice would be very welcome indeed. Water for flushing the toilet and showering is NOT at this time, available to us. This will become a big problem for a lot of people if it's not fixed soon, sanitation-wise. They are telling us that the water is there, the pressure is not, and that we need to boil our water for drinking but many people have electric stoves and cannot.
I would like to respond to some of you but am struggling to stay awake and watch the local coverage as it is. I do thank you for your responses and your well-wishes and I wish my fellow Texans the best.
2ND UPDATE: Guys, it's amazing what a little sleep will do for a person. :-) My family and I are feeling much better today.
Water pressure is back. We found out early this morning that my apt complex is on the same grid as a nursing home down the street. We have a feeling this is why we were up and running so quickly. There are still many people without power but steadily the lights are coming back on.
The PODS are now being setup and information given to us as to where they are. Sounds like things are finally getting organized.
As for the media blackout of Crystal Beach, Bolivar and other areas slammed hard by Ike, I've no news. I saw aerial footage of Crystal Beach last night before I faded off to sleep but have no idea who or how they managed to get the footage. Perhaps the no fly orders were lifted? I'm not sure. freepress4all has a diary up on the rec list about this with a little more information.
I had to go to work this morning briefly and have not had a chance to catch up with the latest. As for details on the ground... I see many people out and about cleaning their yards and clearing roadways. In most cases no one is waiting for state or local officials, they're just picking up the chainsaws and axes and cleaning up. My complex is already cutting up downed trees and working on repairing the fenceline.
Neighbors helping neighbors isn't just some cliche you might be seeing on the news. It's actually happening and it's heartwarming to see... makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to see us pulling together. There are no Republicans or Democrats here today... only Texans. I'm sure that we'll remember our politics again sooner than we'd like to but for now, these things are ever so briefly forgotten and we are simply Texans who just got our collective asses kicked.
Officials are still telling us to conserve gas. Gas stations that actually have gas do not yet have power therefore the pumps do not operate. Those gas stations that have power AND gas have long lines. We are staying put for the moment and letting emergency vehicles and work crews have free reign of the roadways... we can only hope that our fellow Houstonians that do not need to travel to the PODS for ice, water and food are doing the same.
So... slowly but surely the Houston metro area is clawing its way back to life. Our neighbors to the southeast in the hardest hit areas will have a long haul ahead of them and I hope that we do all we can for them via volunteering and donations. Perhaps when I download my pics of the aftermath of the storm to Flickr I'll share them with you guys, but after seeing the aerial views of Galveston my pictures of snapped trees and bare roofs seems trivial compared to the destruction that hit the coast.
I want to thank all of you for your concern and your well wishes. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers... my family and I have done well through this all but many more of us did not and will need your continued support.