I saw this picture, or one with the same exact message on it, on a local television station earlier today and got a chuckle from it.
Officials are saying that some 600,000 people in the area are already without power. That number seems to have doubled just in the last hour or so, but it's a long way from the five million people they are estimating to suffer power loss before this is done.
Some of the folks in Kingwood, northwest of where I am, lost power more than three hours ago, but that's largely a function of the number of trees in that part of town. Those of us living north of Houston are largely surrounded by huge pine trees and a few hardwood types, so it's only a matter of time before branches and whole trees fall onto lines and blow out the transformers that provide the electricity for large numbers of homes.
Midnight CST: The lights have flickered twice in the last five minutes and it is finally raining outside. Both brief losses of power knocked me off-line and required a reboot of both my laptop and my modem. So I may lose power even sooner than I anticipated...
12:30 A.M. - Close to 800,000 people without power now, and about 65,000 of them are supposedly in my part of town.
12:46 A.M. - Local radio is describing a two-alarm fire at one of the older restaurants in downtown Houston, Brennan's. Despite the rain down there and all the wind, they describe flames coming through the roof at this point. The same kind of thing happened in Galveston earlier today with at least two homes and one big boat repair site catching fire. In Galveston the firefighters were unable to get to the fires because of all the flooding.
1:12 a.m. - This is a picture of Brennan's, the restaurant that seems to be burning to the ground in downtown Houston at the moment. It was well-known and revered for the Sunday brunches that it served every week.
1:25 A.M. - The number of people without power has now reached almost 1.1 million. The center of Ike is about 30 miles south of Galveston and is fast approaching the city of Houston, so the majority of the damage is about to happen. I can't even imagine how many billions of dollars worth of property are just about to be destroyed by wind and rising water.
2:09 A.M. - This is a striking picture of the Galveston memorial to the storm victims of 1900 that was taken earlier today - way before Ike's real arrival there. It makes you think, doesn't it?
2:20 A.M. - People without power now total close to 1.4 million and radio reports indicate that downtown Galveston is under six feet of water. Even worse, the second half of the storm, some 180 miles in size, still has to cross Galveston. That's why every part of this area will be battered for hours and hours from start to finish of this thing.