For longtime Houstonians, news that a hurricane is coming can sometimes prompt a yawn. Folks who live down here understand that there are hurricanes…and then there are Hurricanes!
After a big one hits and then moves on you are left with various logistical challenges that aren’t quite as sexy as images of bending palm trees and heroic first responder rescue missions.
Power outages – During the event this past week a relatively small number of households lost power because most power outages in a hurricane are caused by downed above ground power lines and this hurricane did not have a direct path across Houston. As a result, we mostly did not get hit with high winds that cause that kind of damage. Instead, we got the heavy and relentless rains associated with the outer bands of the ‘dirty side’ of the storm.
Temperature – If you happened to have a power outage in your neighborhood during Harvey you were treated to unseasonably cool weather in the 70’s for the first few days after the storm. That may not sound like a big deal but it is. We are back into the 90’s now and that can get oppressive, especially for the more vulnerable among us….and especially if your power hasn’t been restored. There was an exciting gathering on the lawns of our neighborhood as a crew of lineman worked to restore power on our street the other day. (Those guys are amazing by the way.) When they got it up and running it was like Christmas morning as a kid!
Access – Many roads and highways were submerged under water during this event. Days later crews are still working to clear major arteries of transportation. And even once those are cleared, many of the on and off ramps still have to wait for the water to recede before they are useable.
Commerce – So eventually you have your power back, the AC is cooling your home, roads are starting to open up and you venture out to restock your fridge and fill your tank…only to discover that grocery stores are low on food….especially milk, bread and produce. It turns out these stores have had access problems as well. Same is true for gas stations.
Over time the roads open, all power is restored, airports open up and get back to full capacity, supply trucks start rolling down the interstate, the town dries out and you start to hear the familiar sounds of nail guns and construction cranes….
….and the rebuilding begins.