Two bags of ice: that's what we get every day at the local FEMA POD (point of distribution) in our affluent Houston suburb. Yes, we're still without power in our area, along with thousands of other people. CenterPoint Energy has 2.3 million customers in the Houston area. After Ike moved through on Saturday 2.1 million of them had no power. As of this morning (Thursday) 1.3 million of us still don't have power. So we're in good company here. Besides no power, our phones are out too. Fortunately, though, the water and natural gas services were never interrupted in our area. So with a little ice we can keep our food from spoiling and cook it on the gas stove. We're in pretty good shape, considering what so many others are enduring. Our area saw sustained winds of only about 65 mph, with gusts up to 90 mph. There were lots of downed trees and fences in the area, but the only damage to our property was losing a couple of large limbs from the pecan tree in our back yard. I'm even back at work. Our office building reopened Tuesday, and that's where I'm posting this message.
The first few days it was pretty hard to find the basic necessities, which in post-Ike Houston consist of ice, bottled water, gasoline and food (pretty much in that order). The lines were hours long anywhere a store was open that had any of these things in stock. So the FEMA POD that showed up on Tuesday was welcome. But more than that, it was something of a milestone in my 52 years of life. When my wife told me after work that our sons had collected two free bags of ice from FEMA, I laughed out loud. As far as I can recall, that's the first government assistance I've ever received in nearly 35 years as a taxpayer. Oh, I benefit from basic services like police, fire, roads, courts and defense. But in terms of targeted assistance, those two $1.79 bags of ice were a first. I started to wonder how many days it would take to get back all the tax money I've paid over the years, but then I realized I pay much more than $3.58 a day in federal taxes. So the net benefit is still negative. Of course, in 13 years I'm gonna be on Medicare. Then all you sorry Gen-Xers will be paying through the nose!!