Monday, September 22, 2008
Houston: We Have a Problem
Hurricane Ike hit the Houston area more than a week ago, and most of the country has moved on to more pressing matters. It's to be expected, I suppose. After all, there are a dozen other things out there hovering over the entire country, threatening storms of a different kind. But I have friends in Houston, and the corporate office of Romance Writers of America is located there, so I receive updates several times a day. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in Houston still do not have electricity. At last count, the number of individual accounts still without power was 757,000. That's accounts, not people. Put just 3 people in every location, and we're talking about well over 2 million people still without power. In many locations an "open grocery store" means that someone will walk you through with a flashlight while you grab a few things (what things there are) from the shelves. Yesterday, my friend Allison saw a sign at her local grocery store that announced they now had fresh meat and dairy. People are still cooking on camp stoves outside and living on whatever they had in their cupboards when Ike hit. And now, to add to the power outage issues, the temperatures are rising and mosquitoes are infesting the area. My friend Donna sent me some pictures this morning of the devastation. I wish I could share them with you, but they're copyrighted and I respect other people's copyrights the way I hope people will respect mine, so I won't be posting them here. Some of them were too disturbing to share anyway. And most of us probably don't want to know what happened in the cemeteries, anyway. I suppose we might all be paying attention to what's happening in Houston if the economy weren't crumbling right in front of our eyes. We'd all pay attention if the people of Houston had climbed onto their roofs and waited for us to rescue them. And I'm sure the media would be tossing footage of the economy and the election into the trash can if this had happened in NYC. But Houston is our country's fourth largest city, and what happens there is going to impact all of us in the very near future. If the human aspect of the story doesn't move the media, then perhaps the economic impact will. Because if power isn't restored so that people can return to work soon, we're all going to wonder what happened to our gas supply.