Is it the contrast? (Ike)

R went home today because his work has electricity. None of the lights in our part of the subdivision are working, so it takes a long time to get home from work during rush hour. Trees, many trees, are down. There is some power in our section of town, but 85% in our area code are without power.

We came to my folks’ on Monday afternoon. Here we have electricity, internet, an open mall. There are still people around here who have no electricity. There’s a FEMA POD (point of distribution) right up the road, handing out ice and water. There are whole families gathered in the bookstores, reading books in a circle and plugging in their phones or computers.

But it’s better than around our house, where there is no electricity.

Gas is still scarce. Gas stations here (and all over town) have closed off all but one entrance and exit and have people manning the entrances to let people in and out. Some (two of four) on the way home from the highway to our house are closed. They have no gasoline.

Everyone with any sense (I’d guess 80%) filled up before the hurricane. But driving around to find a grocery store, if you need one, and waiting at a FEMA POD will use up a lot of gas. Plus, after a few days those of us who usually drive a lot were going stir crazy in our homes. If it’d been dangerous we would have stayed home, but it wasn’t, so we were driving a bit.

We own a lot of cars (four) and they are all filled up. When we lost the back windshield of the Pontiac, that is the one we decided to run to power up our phones. Amazingly, though landlines are down everywhere, we do have cell phones. The lines are busy regularly, but they’re available. You don’t feel totally out of touch.

Centerpoint Energy says Houston will have 50-75% power by Tuesday. I don’t know if that is a pessimistic prediction, so they can meet their goals or an optimistic prediction, because they are being pressured to say something good. We’ll see. It’s been five full days and we still don’t have power. (Our transformer was hit by a tree and taken out before the storm actually hit, just the winds brought it down. So we lost power Friday night.)

R is home tonight because church was supposed to be meeting. It’s not. But it was supposed to be.

He said the devastation around our area, which didn’t seem anywhere near as bad as we were expecting, seemed much worse after being down near my parents. There are lots of trees down here and some shingles and shutters missing, but overall there is little damage.

In our subdivision, I’d say 1 in 20 people had a tree do visible damage to their home. One in two lost fence. I’d say probably 1 in 10 lost big trees or big limbs.

So I don’t think it is the contrast. I think it is the reality.

Very few people died. There was not widespread flooding. Some people are complaining about the government not being here fast enough. But overall, we were very blessed. There was not the devastation we were concerned about.

But one in twenty houses have visible damage. Think about that as you drive down the block.