Wednesday, September 17, 2008
To the right, there is an image from the Houston Chronicle this week. I believe that's in Orange or Seabrook or some other eastern, coastal Texas town. I think it's AWESOME! Don't you think it looks like some Double Dare physical challenge?
I've been checking in on the Chronicle pretty regularly the last few days, to gather information that my family cannot access. I've been texting them updates about where FEMA has ice and food stations, how much of the metro area has power back, etc, etc, etc. Luckily (miraculously ?), their church has some power, so Mom and Dad have been spending parts of each day there, cooling off and checking email. Mom says they've lucked out in that, since Sunday, they've had at least one warm meal a day - either spaghetti made on a hot plate at church - or lunch at the slowly re-opening restaurants. The rest of their meals are typical hurricane/blizzard fare: tunafish from the can, peanut butter, breakfast bars, etc, etc. The water is still not potable, but at least it's back on.
My brother and his fiancee have skipped most of the misery hanging out in Austin. I guess nothing says "tough aftermath" like a Shiner on the roof-top of Maggie Mae's. But I think they're returning in the next few days. Bro reported that my cousin's wife pulled a 48 hour shift at the hospital for the first part of the storm. By the time she was driving home, she was so frazzled and frustrated by all the debris between the hospital and her house, she had a freakout moment and called my cousin to drive to wherever she was a pick her up. Be nice to your medical residents, people.
Folks are for the most part behaving themselves but they're wary of looters. Houston is equipped with cops who are arrest-happy right now, so I don't know that the citizenry minds that so much as they normally would.
I only lived in Houston for about a year and a half, maybe a little more. I wouldn't call it home, but I certainly have a fond attachment to the city. I never endured any hurricanes or tropical storms. My family has endured the latter more than the former. This is the first direct hurricane hit since they've lived there that I know of. What I'm trying to wrap my head around is what the city must look like right now. At roughly 4 million residents, it's the 4th largest city in the U.S. and it sprawls for-e-ver. And it's so humid. The moisture in the air is always pretty thick - not NOLA thick, but pretty darn close. Mom said the streets looked flat deserted the Sunday after the storm. I'm trying to picture the humming city silenced, dark at night, her downtown streets littered with shards of broken glass and metal scrap, the residential streets impassable because of downed trees. I think it's the dark metropolis that boggles my mind the most. No orange glow domed over the metropolis. In a small town, a dark city isn't as frightening. Comforting, even, maybe. But a sprawling city? I find no comfort in that.
... NOLA. Yeah, those are some people I'm concerned about in Houston these days. Those poor folks: displaced and the lion's share of them are in Houston, now. While the damage in Houston isn't NEARLY as bad as it was in New Orleans, it still must be disconcerting. NPR had a piece this morning about Katrina survivors in Houston now dealing with Ike. It was mostly hopeful, but I felt such a pang of sadness when one woman said that when Ike blew water under her apartment door she got scared; and when she stepped into some flooding in her street, she got a flashback.
I just hope this mess gets cleaned up to soon. I worry for my family. Even restoring power to their neighborhoods would be immeasurably helpful at this juncture.