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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

IKE Aftermath - Day 4 - Cavemen and politics

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Day 4 with no power after IKE. Got the tree cut off the house yesterday. I did manage to get the laptop charged on the car with a converter I bought at Radio Shack yesterday, so here is a short report from Houston and the aftermath of IKE. I will send it out via a connection to the Blackberry, which picks up a cell tower.

Without the battery TV and my Blackberry I might as well be just another caveman because without power you have no communication at all. Right now Houston is an area of over 1 million cave people – over 1.5 million of us don’t have power to watch TV or listen to a radio four days into the event.

Before IKE, when people were “stocking up” it seemed as though every grocery basket in Kingwood was stuffed with four things: Beer, chips, water, and toilet paper – the essentials of life.

Now the big thing is ice and gas. I saw over 300 people lined up at an HEB to get ice -- when you could walk right in to the Randall’s across the street that had food but no ice. Without ice, you can’t keep your food from going bad.

Gas is the other essential – without it you are doomed in Houston where it takes an hour or more just to get from one side of town to the other. We are hearing that gas supplies will be tight all September.

And the generator noise! It comes from neighbors running them and the noise starts to get very irritating – not because I don’t have one so much as the loud racket make. It is like sleeping next to a lawnmower running all night. Thank God the film shield on the windows cuts the noise – if it gets cool enough to close them. They are still running them even with the cold front making it chilly at night.

From my experience I recommend everyone add a portable, battery-operated TV to their emergency kit. If it weren’t for an old black & white battery model (and the internet-capable Blackberry) I’d have no idea what is going on in Houston -- or anywhere else. Problem with that is that in Feb 2009 none of them will work on analog, so new digital ones need to be available on the market.

But with the TV, all we get is news about ourselves – no national or world news has been mentioned in days. When I heard a snippet that the stock market had fallen over 500 points yesterday, I was almost glad NOT to be getting the world news.

Politics seems a planet away from here. The President is supposed to visit today – thanks but no thanks. We really don’t need more politicians clogging traffic and getting in the way so they can express their deepest concern. If he was really concerned he’d have paid attention to the fiscal crisis that is bringing us to a scary place and would have encouraged us to move away from oil.

What I wouldn’t do for a solar panel on my house right now – something big enough to power something when the main lines go down. Where is the legislation to make this common? Where is the leadership in encouraging every house and building to have its own back-up solar energy supply?

It’s not here and so we sit in Houston, the energy capital of the world, in the dark. Gotta go recharge the laptop on the car again…

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