THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 503, January 25, 2009
When will enough be enough?
When will people stop obeying?
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
Over a year ago I wrote an article entitled "This Hurricane Season" which criticized the local, state and federal governments for the way they handled Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. During Hurricane Ike I got to experience the incompetence of government officials first hand. I also experienced the ineptness of our local power company and the stupidity of our local media. When I received word that the hurricane was going to hit Houston, I dreaded the day it would happen. It wasn't the hurricane itself that worried me. It was the aftermath that I dreaded.
Two days before the storm, I had a glimpse of how well the government would be handling the situation. On that day, I was leaving early from UH Downtown to help my family prepare for the storm. Apparently I wasn't the only one who had that idea. After only three stops the entire bus was filled. By the time the bus got the highway there wasn't even any standing room left. The ride could have gone smooth, if it weren't for the geniuses of the Texas Department of Transportation, who decided to keep the HOV lanes closed. Since the highways were jammed, a trip that was normally 30-45 minutes long lasted almost an hour and a half. This was a small glimpse of how bad things were going to be after the hurricane.
Two days later Hurricane Ike devastated Galveston with its floods and the high winds hit Houston in the early morning. With the exception of a few down trees and fences my neighborhood faired quite well. We were hoping that since the damage was minimal that our power would be back up within a few days. Obviously that was wishful thinking.
For three days my parents and I sat around a battery operated TV trying to get information on power restoration or where we can get water and ice. The only station that we could get on the TV was ABC. I have never been too impressed by their local news cast. Whenever those ditsy windbags try to act intelligent it's like watching monkeys trying to use tools. This time they proved to be even more worthless then usual. They spent more time showing footage of floods in Galveston and babbling about the same information over and over again. They spent thirty minutes babbling about how the gas prices were going to rise. Getting useful information from that station was like pulling teeth. It was almost impossible to get important information like where to get water and ice. For that kind of information, our loveable subhuman newscast told us to log in at ABC.com. Apparently those intellectuals forgot that most of us were without power, which also meant that we were without internet.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the aftermath was the slow response of Centerpoint Energy. From the very beginning they were unprepared, which they claimed was because they didn't know where the hurricane was going to hit. It's amazing that everybody else knew, but them. It was even more frustrating that some of the areas around us had their power up since the day after the hurricane. Our frustration grew into anger when Centerpoint ordered their workers out of our area so they could restore power in the wealthier areas. After a week and a half we finally got our power back. With the exception of the NBC news team, most of the local media seem to act like cheerleaders for Centerpoint, instead of pointing out their short comings.
Let's not forget our old friends, FEMA. It seems like they have learned nothing from Katrina and Rita. They came in understaffed with a limited amount of supplies in an untimely matter. It would turn out that FEMA only intended to supply water and ice to those who had been completely devastated by Ike. They just assumed that there wouldn't be a shortage of water and ice for those without electricity. The mayor was so enraged by this that he took over the relief effort. Despite this the media still cheered them on. I half expected them to wave pom-poms.
This nightmare wouldn't have been complete without the incompetence of law enforcement. Two days after the Hurricane there were long lines around every gas station in town. At a Shell Station, the police had most of the entrances blocked. When my father asked one of the officers where the line began, he pointed towards a street around the corner. We weren't sure where the line started, so we almost got into an altercation with somebody who thought we were trying to cut ahead. It would have been nice if one of the five officers at the station had decided to direct traffic instead of allowing us to get into a situation where we had to deal with somebody's road rage. I guess that was just too much to ask.
The aftermath of Hurricane Ike reinforced my beliefs about the government and the local media. Both of these organizations have proven themselves to be unreliable time and time again. I have also learned that the utility companies can't be relied on either. FEMA has proven itself to be so worthless that I find price gauging profiteers to be more trustworthy then government funded relief. I'm not a religious man, but I pray to god that Houston will never have to experience a real disaster. The idea of having to trust FEMA, the media, or Centerpoint Energy with my life seems a hell of a lot scarier then any hurricane.