Tensions Are Rising

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It’s bedlam by I-45 and N. Main. More than 30 cars full of increasingly angry motorists are lined up outside the pumps of the Exxon station, whose manager said at 11 a.m. they wouldn’t even open for at least another two hours.

Just across the street, blue police lights are flashing at the corner of Pecore and Beuchamp as hundreds of people are lined up for blocks waiting for free ice and water at Travis Elementary, one of the PODs set up throughout the city.

“We’ve got nothing at home,” says David Vasquez, who says he’s lived in the Heights his entire life. “The line is moving pretty quickly, and we really need this.” .

The POD opened at 9 a.m., says Rick Swanson of the Houston Fire Department, who is helping oversee the operation, and within two hours volunteers had handed out two entire 18-wheelers of ice and water provided by HEB. At noon, four more 18-wheelers, escorted by a sheriff’s deputy, were pulling into the school.

Each family is receiving a case of bottled water and two bags of ice. So far, says Swanson, volunteers are relying on the honor system and everything is moving pretty smoothly.

In the N. Main area of the Heights, several businesses are now open. El Taquito Rico at 3710 Pecore is serving food and O’Reilly Auto Parts is open with one or two generators left for sale, says an employee. They are only accepting cash. The $ Stop at 4721 N. Main is open and has limited amounts of ice. The Food Stop on N. Main and Michaux is also open.

On Houston Avenue, the Dharma Café is open; spray-painted on a large piece of plywood are the words, “BAR OPEN.” The taco truck half a block north of the café is also open.

Down along Airline, cars are lined up waiting for the Chevron at Cavalcade to open and across the street more than 30 cars were waiting to use a single active pump at the Texaco. People were standing around yelling at each other; the situation looks tense.

The open-air farmers market on Airline, which suffered severe damage to its roof, does not look open, but it is. Fresh fruits and vegetables are available until at least 4 p.m. today.

Also open along Airline are the restaurants Tampico Seafood and Teotihuacan.

-- Chris Vogel

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