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Kossacks- I know the focus now is on the election but I have to tell ya that I just got off the phone with my dad in Houston (after hours of trying to get through) and the situation is BAD....REAL BAD.

In fact, it is so bad that even though I grew up in Houston and have seen more than my fair share of tornados and hurricanes I was shocked at what I just heard from my dad. I thought it was important to share the news.

My dad is forever the optimist- so when he says it's bad- it's bad!

Folks are really struggling just to survive there and I think this deserves more attention.  Follow me after the fold for details.

For those of you who know Houston, my parents live just off of I-45 right next to the woodlands.  Even though that is not on the coast (it's on the Northwest side of Houston) it was in the direct path of Ike and they were hit pretty bad.

Luckily no one was hurt and though. They had about 20-25 trees down but none hit the house and all are safe.  

Now on to the aftermath...

- First, there is no water. None whatsover. Nothing comes out of the tap and they are told that if something does come out it is not drinkable.

- No electricity, and they are told there won't be any for 2-4 weeks or more! (Again, having lived through several hurricanes I can tell you that this his unheard of.)  Normally we were out of power for 2-4 DAYS, NOT WEEKS.

- No gas.  My brother waited in line for 5 hours! today to get some gas.  And that is with the 5 gallon limit that they allow you to get. While in line at one of the 2 gas stations open nearby, there were 3 fist-fights. The other one had to be patrolled by police to break up fights and stop people from cutting in line.

PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO LOSE IT.

- No food.  There is only one grocery store open nearby (if you can get to it) and the lines stretches for blocks.  My dad says it is so jam-packed that there are hundreds of people waiting to check out.  And they are so full that they can only let someone in as someone else goes out- 2 people out, 2 people in (like they do in a nightclub if they are over capacity).  

THEN AND ONLY THEN can you gather what little is left on the shelves.  In Houston most homes have electric stovetops so the only way to cook is if you have a gas grill.  Hotdogs and anything you can put on a grill are long gone.  Bread is gone.  All the staples are gone.  They are grabbing anything they can and being creative about how to cook it.

- They have a 6 pm curfew to try to deter looters.  

- Schools are closed all week and most likely next week too. My sister in law is a teacher and was told to call in this weekend to see if school will be open next week.

Again, this is highly unusual.  I remember when I was a kid we had some bad hurricanes come and we were lucky to get one or two days off of school.  We loved it as kids because you don't get snow days in Houston so those were our only chances of getting off of school.  The schools are usually the first things up, so this is not a good sign!
A couple weeks off of school?  Let's face it- Houston is a mess!

Meanwhile...they are struggling to go on with day to day life but I imagine that is quite difficult when the place is worse off then some developing countries right now.

- There is no way to work.  I have relatives who will most likely have to miss a whole month's pay when they were already living paycheck to paycheck.  I worry about them and don't know how they will make it without some kind of help.

The streetlights are down since there is no power and with no gas and trees still down in the streets there are few places you can eve get to.
No one has come by for assistance.  No one.

They tried to stock up on water as much as they could before the storm but even then the stores were a madhouse and supplies were low.  

Sidenote: my parents run an animal rescue operation- they have 26 pot-bellied pigs, 14 dogs, one cat and one horse named Old Joe.  They have no water for the animals!  

Their only hope is to lug water- one bucket at a time- from the pond in the front lot and take it to the animals.  They have got 25 acres there and I'm sure it's quite a task just to water the animals.  I'm sure they wish they could have a bath about now but they feel lucky enough just to have water to DRINK at this point.

They have a small generator but it needs gas to run, which, with the 5 gallon limit and 5 hour long lines, they have to ration out for emergencies- like for if someone needs to make a trip to the ONE pharmacy that is open to try to get meds and to try to get more food and water.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

If you would like to help out- here are some places I found that are helping.  If you know of others please post them in the comments section in bold letters so people can take action.

http://www.houstonfoodbank.org/  

Houston ASPCA is taking calls for missing / found animals and offering as much advice and help as they can. http://hspca.convio.net/...

Thanks for reading.

UPDATE: some commentors have sugested also reading http://www.burntorangereport.com/

Originally posted to newyorknewyork on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 02:15 PM PDT.

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