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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

IKE Aftermath: Day 5 With No Power. Cavemen smell bad

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

9 a.m. Day 5 after IKE with no power – of 1.5 million in our area still sitting in the dark. Photo: HEB line in Kingwood stretches forever, waiting on ice.

It was surreal last night driving through black streets lined with dark houses lit by candles or a generator. We are getting more reports of federal people here to “help” us turning away from the Reliant Stadium POD a HEB grocery truck that showed up to donate goods. Heck of a job.

What happened to the State of Texas “pre-positioned fuel trucks” that were supposed to step in during a major disaster like this? They are nowhere to be seen. The folks in Galveston have it the worst of all – total devastation. Don’t forget that it is also part of our port system.

Yesterday I helped rebuild a fence for the neighbor with a tree in his house. He’s gone so a neighbor behind us helped me. As we worked he said he is planning to hook his generator up to his gas line – its running on gasoline and will soon run out. I discovered the source of the loud noise outside the bedroom window – their unit! LOL.

The biggest problem is lack of gas stations operating. It reminds me of the 1970 gas lines, except that we have so much crude that the prices are dropping. The bottleneck is refining. So it is not an oil shortage, but a refining shortage. Most of the refineries here were reported as undamaged by IKE – the problem is that they were shut down ahead of the storm and take time to start up, so they have been down for over a week.

I got up at 5 this morning to see about filling up my almost empty tank. The lines of cars stretched over a mile at the few places preparing to open. Without gas, we are a million plus city STUCK on empty. That will even hinder opening the refineries needed to produce more fuel for the entire country. As a former terrorism analyst, I think we should surround the refineries with high walls to keep out both high water and an RPG missile shot from the highway.

I did see utility trucks from Illinois yesterday. Thank You Illinois and all the other States that have sent utility trucks. The Houston area is America’s energy heartland and the sooner it is up and running the better for all. We are also headquarters of Horizon Wind Corporation which is planting wind farms everywhere, and biodiesel plants, to name a couple. All are affected when your refrigerator is off and the local store has no meat or eggs because they would spoil until the power is running the coolers again.

This is a lesson how much we need to diversify our energy sources. We have gas stations with gas but they aren’t open because they don’t have a generator to run the pumps – which makes things worse. Same for the grocery stores – they didn’t have a backup system sufficient to run anything other than lights. We need to get more alternative standby power systems set up.

And generators need to be required to be muffled. They produce dangerous fumes and the neighbor forced to open windows for ventilation will endure endless hours of a lawnmower running top end non-stop. As more people buy them the noise and dangerous fumes will increase. Getting some form of solar panels on houses tied to a battery system would be a greener, cleaner way to keep noxious generator fumes and noise to a minimum.

So, on Day 5 I remain stuck with some cell phone service but not enough gas to go get things done. I am still charging the laptop and Blackberry off the car, and hoping that enough gas becomes available in the next day or two. They are telling us it could be another week of no power. Thank God I can take a hot shower due to the gas heater. If not for that I’d smell like the caveman lifestyle I’ve been living for 5 days now.

I want a natural gas car so I could get around town – we still have natural gas lines working when everything else is down.

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