Photo: Brett Coomer, Staff
Mark Garfield did not know when his power would be restored, but he would not complain about the wait.
Too many lost too much to bemoan the temporary loss of electricity. Instead, he returned to his neighborhood, crowded with as many CenterPoint trucks as rumors swirling about when power would return, and looked at the bright side.
“I’m trying to keep everything in perspective,” Garfield said after a day in his neighborhood in the Memorial and Eldridge area. “We don’t have water in our house. We have numerous friends from church, Sunday school and living out here for 25 years that really have severe problems. Some have 3 feet, 4 feet, 5 feet of water in their houses.”
Still, life changes without power. Most of the power throughout the area had been restored. Most that had been lost, as with Garfield’s neighborhood, had been from flooding at the substation, rather than hurricane winds.
As of Tuesday evening, CenterPoint reported that 99.8 percent of its customers had power. Still, that left more than 5,000 in the dark, many with work to be done.
“It’s frustrating, but I think it’s understandable,” said Nicole Saegusa, who left her home in the Energy Corridor when the substation there was flooded. “I trust that they’re doing what they can. Obviously, if the whole substation is underwater, it takes a lot of work to get that fixed.
Still without power?
If you have a generator, use it with care. Keep it out of enclosed spaces. Do not connect a generator to the home’s wiring system without proper isolating equipment. Turn it off when you leave the house.
If heading to the store, grab non-perishables such as canned meats and fruits and vegetables that require no cooking and little or no water. Eat perishable items first, then the canned goods.
Treat all lines on the ground as if they are energized. That means, stay away from them.
A car charger for your cellphone can be a lifeline when power is out.
If the rest of your neighborhood has power and you don’t, call CenterPoint Energy.
Cook meat on a gas stove or barbecue grill.
The best light comes from candles with hurricane globes.
If you are going to work, plan your wardrobe and take your clothes out of the closet the night before.
Take time to catch up on your sleep.
Embrace good old-fashioned entertainment like games, storytelling and conversation.
Be kind. Everyone will be emotionally drained.
“We’re one of the lucky ones that didn’t actually flood. We haven’t had power since last Monday.”
Saegusa and her family have lived in hotels, moving back into their area in time for the delayed first day of school on Tuesday.
Like many in the area, Garfield and his family have stayed with relatives and friends, moving around while waiting for the power to be restored.
“Like my grandmother used to say, fish and family start to stink after three days,” Garfield said. “We don’t like to wear out our welcome. We’ve kind of jumped around.
“We still have a business to run,” said Garfield, president of Ecosystems Management Co., a landscape architecture firm. “We have to get that up and going again. We have people who work for us for many years. They’re part of our family. We have to get that going again so they can pay their bills.”
With that in mind, Garfield said he has been closely reading the reports in the Houston Chronicle and following conversations on the social network app Nextdoor. Mostly, as with so many, he just waits and counts his blessings.
“We’ve been sitting out front and visiting with neighbors,” he said. “It’s kind of a bittersweet circumstance. We’ve had the opportunity to meet people we’ve never met before, and they’re just delightful people. It’s such a damn shame we had to have such an incredible disaster.”