Houston is a city of more than 4 million people. FEMA has set up 17 or 18 (their spokesperson is not sure of the exact number) PODs (points of distribution) in the 4 days since Ike struck. Do the math here. If you happen to have access to radio or TV (and since 99% of my electric company's customers are still without power) then you know where the PODs are. If you can get to one (there are so few gas stations operating that there have been riots) and prove you live in the neighborhood, you are given 2 liters of water, 2 MREs, and a bag of ice. See ya tomorrow. WTF? This is the new and improved FEMA? Sure.
And, ahem, there are plenty of cities outside of Houston just as hard hit. Conroe, Woodlands, Willis, Montgomery, Huntsville to name a few close to my heart. We have nada from FEMA. It's like we do not exist.
Now to the power company that serves us: in the 4 days since Ike they have managed to restore power to less than 1% of its customers. All the radio folks are telling us to be patient. However, they have power where they are. They are not stumbling in the dark, taking cold showers (I have not needed coffee this week) or worrying about getting fuel for their cars. We would simply head out to a hotel but we would have to drive more than 3 hours before finding anything with power AND a vacancy let alone finding one that will take pets.
OK, back to gratitude. Family and friends and co-workers are all hanging together and trying to be cheerful as possible. The residents of the back bedroom are thrilled with the prospect of no school (it is, we think, closed for the week at least). I am happy that if flights are running tomorrow I get to go to Utah and have a long hot shower and hot food. Life is good.
Thanks to all those who sent emails and left comments. Ike has destroyed the lovely coastal communities and left downtown in a shambles with debris everywhere (we saw photos online). But more, of course, is the human toll. We sit in the evening as it gets quite dark without any lights and listen to people call in looking for ATMs, grocery stories, gas stations, PODs. It is easy to hear the terror and fright and sadness in these disembodied voices. And that is when we are once again grateful that we have food (for now) and gas (for one more trip here and back from the campus) and water (plentiful thanks to the one utility company that seems to be present). We can replace the spoiled food. We can repair the few shingles. We can survive without the cold drinks (a beer would be nice even now). We can bear the heat. A month seems a long time to be without. We hope for the best between now and then.
I will post more cheerful stuff once I have the chance to do some reading.