Howdy folks. It’s been a looong time. Hope everyone has been well. I saw this post and being that I live in the Houston area I figured I could answer some of GS’s questions. To say the devastation is unbelievable would be an understatement. I have never seen water levels like this in the 25 years I have lived here. That being said I have also been blown away by how everyone is handling it. It is almost as if no one batted an eye and just rolled up their sleeves and started doing what had to be done. It has been incredibly humbling to see the amount of help pouring in from all over the nation. There were so many people that showed up with boats (both local and out of state) to help rescue people that many were turned away. The National Guard and first responders from all over the nation showed up. We live a few miles from a reserves/private airport and the stream of helicopters flying over the house lasted for days. After 3 days of being cooped up in the house(it was still raining) the family and I loaded up and started helping at shelters. I was a little apprehensive about it and wasn’t sure it was a good idea to take the family along.We delivered loads of donated supplies from a distribution center to shelters in the area. I haven’t ventured into shelters in the past due to what I saw during Katrina. I had visions of people crammed like cattle into terrible facilities. I expected mayhem and chaos. I was mistaken. There was chaos but it wasn’t bad considering the situation. Hasty shelters were being opened up everywhere; churches, schools, convention centers, businesses, any place that was big enough to hold numbers and wasn’t in immediate danger of flooding. Many were just people willing to help neighbors out. Now conditions may have deteriorated some over the following days but I don’t know as we started helping people in neighborhoods around us demo their houses. I have not seen any local reports of deplorable conditions in the shelters. Red Cross and other agencies showed up but a lot of people just did it on their own. The agencies brought some supplies but I think the bulk of it was donations. I’M TALKING MOUNTAINS OF DONATIONS! Clothes were starting to get turned away within 4 days. Within two days volunteer signups at organized shelters were full a week out. There were literally long lines of people waiting to signup to volunteer. I have never seen such an outpouring of generosity. It has truly made me proud of my community and country. The finances over the coming months will be interesting. A state of emergency was declared prior to the storms impact. Many people have donated money and raised money for relief efforts. One of the Houston Texans football players started a fundraiser by donating a million dollars of his own money to kick it off. Last I heard donations were at over 20 million. Countless other people and groups are raising money to help out. I honestly think there will be more donated than the government actually contributes( and actually makes it to relief efforts). Contractors for repairs will not be an issue. I have seen tons of caravans of all types of contractors rolling down the highways. Companies are flooding in from everywhere to get set up for the rebuild. It will take a long time to fix everything but if you are willing to work there will be no shortage of jobs or employers for a while. The saddest part about all of this(other than the loss of life and homes) is that it is estimated that 85% of the estimated 100,000 homes that were affected did not have flood insurance. What will be very interesting to see is what deals get made between insurance companies and lending institutions. I imagine there will be people that just pack up and walk away from homes that are not covered under insurance and will let the banks have them back. That could have major effects nation wide. Time will tell.
Gas ran short pretty fast. There is no shortage of fuel but delivery was impossible for a few days due to water levels and road conditions after the water went down. Prices have jumped about 60 cents a gallon around me. Supply is coming back but I am curious to see if greed kicks in and prices stay up. I have no idea what the estimates are on vehicles that were submerged but buying a used car over the next 6 months to a year is going to be risky business, even if you don’t live in Texas. They will get repaired and spread out to auctions across the country. If you are in the market for a used car I would highly suggest doing some research on ways to tell if a car has been flooded. A salvage title will be your first give away as once a car is totaled by an insurance company it is given a salvage title. Check inside body panels or in tire and jack compartments for signs of water marks or pooling water. These areas are often overlooked when cleaning cars up. I would also be willing to bet there will be some rate hikes for insurance rates nation wide with the big name insurance companies. They gotta cover their losses somehow.