Friday, September 19, 2008

The 130th good thing about Lagos: Feeling at one with those recovering from Hurricane Ike in Houston

We have constant daily electricity outages here in Lagos, but because most places where expatriates live and work have generators and backup generators, it's often just a few seconds blink off of power while it switches to generator power. But yesterday when I was at my Bible Study group at the ExxonMobil compound here, the power was out for quite a lengthy stretch and we ended up watching the day's video segment on a laptop instead of the TV. Our hostess said that the long outages had been happening since the previous day, and she expected that the generator was soon to be dead to the world. Some of the Chevron ladies said that during the labor disputes this past summer, the electricity, telephone, internet and water would be switched off for the entire work day, and then turned on at night in the attempt by the labor unions to cripple the work of the company. We were getting an update about a former member of our Bible study group who moved to Houston this summer. Their house in the Woodlands was still without power after almost a week, and it was expected that it could be another week before power was restored. We decided that she was very well prepared for that kind of situation after her years in Lagos. But, truly, I've never had my power off for more than a half-day here, so I can't admit to living through the hardship that many hurricane survivors are now forced to endure. I'm sure those in Houston with generators are now as thankful for them as I am each day.

We do have a lot of experience dealing with minor floods -- both from broken pipes within the apartment and also from driving through big puddles in the streets. Today I went to visit a charity out by Lekki market (blog post of that upcoming) and the streets were a real mess. It's nearing the end of the rainy season, but we have had a couple of fierce thunderstorms in the past few days. The dirt roads here get really rutted during the rainy season and the scary thing about driving through these lakes in the road is that, unless there's another car ahead of you, you really don't know how deep the holes are. We don't have a car with high clearance and both my driver and I were worried today -- the water in a couple of these puddles came up almost half-way on the car door. We managed to get through without stalling, thank goodness. Here's some pictures from the road today. Of course, the buildings lining the road are not temporary structures with hurricane damage, but the realities of life for many Lagos residents. I'm very grateful for modern, sturdy, comfortable and (usually) dry housing -- I hope Houston recovers quickly so residents there can once again enjoy the comforts of home.

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