Houston, Devastated, Reels In The Dark

      HOUSTON (CN) – Frustrations are rising and cell-phone batteries dying in the nation’s fourth largest city four days after Hurricane Ike devastated the Texas coast and plunged much of it into darkness. Ice, gasoline and bottled water are precious commodities, commanding longs lines at FEMA aid stations and stores.

     FEMA says there will be no monetary packages offered, as after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and no reimbursements for purchases of generators.
     More than 1.9 million households on the upper Texas coast lack electrical service, and the rare exceptions in Houston proper are mostly confined to the Montrose, Heights, Medical Center and Downtown neighborhoods. People who have running water have been told to boil it before drinking.
     The city’s clean-up effort is gaining momentum after a Saturday morning that saw cracked and uprooted trees covering streets and downtown littered with glass blown out from skyscraper windows. Most local schools will be closed until mid-week at the earliest, and a citywide 9 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew is in effect until Saturday.
     Surrounding areas face an even tougher task. Galveston Island is in ruins, and residents who evacuated have been told to stay away to avoid taxing its devastated infrastructure.
     People who live in Angleton, Baytown, Conroe and other communities in greater Houston have been told they could be without electricity services for a week or longer.
     In Beaumont, refineries remain shut down and there is no timetable to restart production. Most residents remain in the dark and have been told it could be a month before power is restored.

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