Power came back about 4:30 PM. I confess I indulged in a shower before re-assembling the computer and logging back in to report I am alive and well, though I need to find a gas station.
Gasoline is the big word for everyone right now. At the 5 PM Newscast, there were two (2) gasoline statons open for business and fueling up cars, at an average wait time of three hours for those in line. KHOU advised that if you were not already in line, they might well be out before you could get there. Houston remains the city which, two days after finishing the 2005 “Get Outta Town” marathon, is now the city of “Stay Where You Are”. Gas stations are expected to be closed until at least Monday or Tuesday throughout Houston, although FEMA (more on them in a moment) has sent rations of gasoline to locations along major roadways.
I feel like the guy in those movies who has a gun pointed at his chest, only to see the shooter turn and fire into the guy next to him. Louisiana got a lot of Rita, and East Texas got a lot more. Rita politely dropped her windspeeds from 175 mph sustained to just about 130 mph when she made shore, and she moved froma dead-on course for Galveston. Since Rita was so big, Houston still got hurricane-force winds and a fair bit of rain, but no real storm surge and a lot less damage than we expected.
I saw an interesting effect from Rita late yesterday. The sky was clear at sunrise, but clouds moved in around noon, and by 4 PM were clearly threatening. Around 7:30 PM, the setting sun turned the cloudscape golden, a stunning sight which seemed like a divine promise of protection. Of course, it was overcome in about 20 minutes by black clouds swiftly moving in, so that could be taken the other way, but it was a fascinating sight, not unlike the green skies I have seen just before a tornado hits.
We kept waiting for monster winds, but the sustained winds were fairly controlled, not much worse than the tree-shakers we get every couple weeks or so. Of course, those storms don’t last for fifteen hours, but even so, the winds didn’t seem too bad, and even the gusts brought down only a few trees and signs in the neighborhood; the building proved to be just the rock we hoped it would be. All the streetlights are still out, and no one has gas,but we’re good. And Centerpoint got the lights back on before nightfall.
Now, I will be annoying some of the Red-Ticket-Only contingent, the ones who maintain that we are morally obliged to vote a straight-ticket, but I have to say that Mayor Bill White, a life-long Democrat even if he did his best to keep that quiet when he ran for Mayor, has done an outstanding job in this crisis, especially in avoiding finger-pointing for things like the gas shortage, and in asking Houstonians to use “common sense” early in the week in deciding whether to evacuate and in cooperating to help stranded motorists and in planning actions with state and federal officials. White, very unlike Nagin, got in touch with state and federal officials early on and made all the necessary approvals and requests to get supplies deployed and responders on the same page. I will writing more on Bill White later this week but for now I have to say that, Democrat or not, he’s earned my respect and my vote. I will give Governor Perry a chance to redeem himself as recovery unfolds, but he was a moron to publicly promise that Houston gas stations would get gas by Friday evening; it never happened and he plain looked like an idiot for promising what we all knew would never happen.
Now about FEMA: FEMA had officials in Houston Thursday, in close cooperation with the Red Cross and Salvation Army, and more importantly, with office space specifically set up by the Mayor. By Friday night, a convoy of eighteen-wheelers was bringing medical and food supplies to the 49 Red Cross shelters in the greater Houston area, ahead of the storm. It is noteworthy as well that in about the same time that it took for New Orleans to get about 200,000 people out of New Orleans, more than three million people evacuated the greater Houston area. Think about that, really.
Well, I gotta get going; Jagan needs dinner and I want to find a Coke machine.