The lights are back on in downtown Houston, but there is little relief for many across the Midwest, as millions remain without power.
From Galveston to Cincinnati, the fallout from Ike still leaves almost 3 million people in seven states with no electricity – almost 2 million in Texas alone.
And full restoration of power could take weeks.
But power isn’t the only issue – not when the mayor of Galveston compared conditions in her city to a third world country: “Galveston is an island of mold and mildew, debris and disease,” Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas said.
Still, some 15,000 residents refuse to leave, so officials debate whether to force them out.
Dr. David Lakey, state health commissioner, said he has seen respiratory illnesses, minor traumas such as burns and falls, stress and fatigue.
“The capacity to take care of moderate injuries and illnesses is not here at this time,” Lakey said. “It’s my opinion that individuals should not be living on the island at this time.”
A short-lived policy allowing evacuees back onto Galveston temporarily to examine their property and then leave generated massive traffic jams onto the island, blocking first responders. That policy has since been reversed.
In Houston, Dr. James McCarthy of Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, said Ike’s new victims have been those injured during the cleanup.
“Patients keep coming,” he told CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann. “Falling off roofs, tree-cutting injuries, getting hit with branches. People who have no business operating a chain saw decided this was their time to learn and are injuring themselves.”
Downed trees are just part of the mess. By one estimate, Ike’s debris
just in Houston would fill more than 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Mary McCauley hauled hers away herself: “They said we had to rely on FEMA or whoever for trash pickup. I’m just going to take care of it myself,” she told CBS News.
Every day shows progress: for instance, Houston’s water has been declared safe to drink again. But the process is massive and slow, so even a week from now, as many as a million people in Houston may still be without power.
Ohioans Cope Without Electricity For Fifth Day
Ohio’s utilities reported about 900,000 homes and businesses still without power, down from 2.6 million customers at some point after the windstorm hit Sunday. Nearly 350,000 still were without power Wednesday in Kentucky, Indiana and Pennsylvania.
Utilities hoped to restore power to those still coping without it on Thursday, but some could be in the dark until the weekend.