September 12, 2008

Thinking about Texas.

Are you near the big storm? I hope everyone is okay.

69 comments:

joyce said...

Even way up here in Fort Worth, 300 miles from Galveston, we can see the beginning swirls of clouds coming from IKE. Listening to the radio, I want to ask the reports why they are needing to report from Galveston when we have nifty traffic cameras on the roads down there. Looks empty.

Peter V. Bella said...

Prayer for those in harms way.

erniecu73 said...

I really hope everyone got out safely.

Justin said...

Ann Althouse said...

Are you near the big storm?

Not yet. I seem to be getting closer all the time though.

mcg said...

My brother and his family live in Montgomery County, north of Houston. He thought about evacuating here to Austin yesterday to avoid the rush but decided to hunker down. Fortunately that's not an entirely reckless decision given his exact location, which is not subject to the storm surge.

Fen said...

I'm interested in the evac routing east of Houston. Government has been looking at building a newer evac route next to our farm [some of the other routes flood]. This will show how much they need it, if at all.

MadisonMan said...

That's an amazing video from the AP. Storm is many hours away, and homes are already in the water.

Dan_in_Austin said...

The roads inland are crowded but still moving. Here in Austin, the schools are being shut down to shelter the flood of displaced coastal residents. Fortunately for Austin the storm track is predicted to pass east of us. The storm is still 200 miles from the coast and the seawall at Galveston is already being overtopped. Damn.

Holly said...

I'm 10 miles outside of downtown Houston.

Just sitting here waiting - got the food, water, lamps and batteries, air card for when the wireless router goes out, gasonline for the generator. Husband hasn't boarded up the windows yet. It's windy but we won't get hit till the wee hours of tomorrow morning.

I'm a lifelong resident of the Gulf Coast and this is my first direct hit hurricane. Up till now I've always had eerie luck. I lived on the north shore of Lake Ponchertrain (directly across from New Orleans) for years, and we never had a bad one while I was there. And all these years in Houston, we never got hit.

So yeah, I'm nervous. Not worried about flooding, but about flying debris, crashing trees and no power - I can do without everything except air conditioning. It's gonna be hellish hot.

vbspurs said...

To all of those who are in Galveston, please flee now. And as Peter said, many prayers all those in harm's way.

Cheers,
Victoria

Beth said...

Be safe, Holly. It does suck when the AC goes out - especially with the windows boarded up! I'm glad all who've responded here are out of the big surge area.

We're in tropical storm winds with periodic rain bands since yesterday -- Ike is wide, wide enough to cause flooding in our coastal areas and the lake. I'm pleased that the new gates built after Katrina seem to be doing a good job at keeping the lake from entering the canals.

I love Galveston. I hope its people and property get through this as well as can be hoped.

Beth said...

I echo VB's call for Galvestonians to get the hell out of Dodge. You don't want to be there for the big water.

vbspurs said...

It's gonna be hellish hot.

Holly, best of luck to you.

Remember that you will have at least a week without power. That means if you can buy a generator NOW, please do so. It's worth it, even if they are price gouging (you can report them later).

(When hurricanes come down here in SoFla, guys pop out of no where in traffic lights selling generators from their trucks. They go for $300 a pop, easy)

As everyone in the South knows, it's not the heat that kills you, it's the humidity. Just one blast of air conditioning, will go a long way.

Best of luck, and many prayers to you and yours.

Cheers,
Victoria

Fen said...

Holly,

First, prayers for the safety of you and your loved ones.

But I'm curious what your reasons are for not evacuating. I'm not challenging you, just want to hear your perspective.

Justin said...

Holly said...

I can do without everything except air conditioning.

Our plan is to wait out the storm and then go to Austin or College Station if it looks like the power will be out for a long time.

The waiting sucks. I'm as ready as I'll ever be. But we're off work today and just about everything is closed except a few restaurants and hardware stores. Nothing to do but watch the local newsfolk freak out.

Pelalusa said...

First person account from an evacuee: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QL-gIgF7XM

vbspurs said...

Justin, hugs too! :)

Fen if I may respond, though I'm not a Houstonian nor Holly:

But I'm curious what your reasons are for not evacuating. I'm not challenging you, just want to hear your perspective.

- No one really knows where hurricanes will make landfall

(You could actually be GOING into harm's way, rather than staying to greet it. That was the case with my folks in 1992, for Andrew)

- Fear of post-storm Looting

(They start within minutes of the last gust)

- Lack of shelter facilities which accept pets

(I know, I know; but we're human. I won't leave my dog no matter if I lose my life -- fortunately SoFla has one huge shelter which takes pets. Hopefully Texas provides that too)

- Plain ole stubborness

...and also the fact that NOLA is basically a basin. One storm and poof. That's not the case with Miami nor Houston.

(Though it is where I live in Miami Beach, which has mandatory evac -- I would say about 40-45% of Miami Beach residents leave, but that's it)

Cheers,
Victoria

Alan said...

Fen,

If I may be so bold as to speak on Holly's behalf--it's probably because she's not in one of mandatory evacuation zones. The emergency mgmt. folks are evacuating the immediate coastal areas, and the lowest lying areas in southeast Harris county. Most of Houston is being told to stay put, so that those that are in the "bullseye" have clearer paths out of harm's way.

I worry about my parents, but they're in the northwest part of the county (though only 500 feet from a creek that floods at the drop of a hat...). They're staying put, too.

Justin said...

Just to add to what Victoria said:

It's generally not a good idea to evacuate unless absolutely necessary. Evacuation is dangerous (Rita evac killed more people than the storm itself). And it's more dangerous the more people who evacuate.

If I left now, I would be putting my wife and myself at risk, plus compounding the risk to everyone else. Coastal residents (ie Galveston) HAVE to leave. The rest of us are better off "hunkering down".

John Clemens said...

I'm in College Station which puts me about 6 hours from the start of the bad weather and about 18 hours from the hurricane. It's pretty neat, though, because I've never seen "Squalls" with a 100% chance of rain listed on a weather forecast.

Fen said...

Alan, vbspurs, Justin - thanks for the info. Makes more sense to me now.

Tari said...

We're right by the Med Center and we're staying put, although my husband did just float a last minute trip to Austin about 10 minutes ago. 290 looks clear on the traffic cameras ...

I'm nervous, I'll admit it. More so for what this will be like for my boys (5 and 8). They are going to be more than a little scared before this is over.

Douglas said...

I'm in northern Galveston county, and we're starting to see the outer rain bands. They hysteria over this storm is the worst I've ever seen. Everyone one is intent on focusing on the absolute worst case, even to the point Govenor Goodhair said "if Houston gets a Cat 5 and doesn't evacuate, 1.5 MILLION people will be dead. Not homeless, DEAD." Yeah, and frogs had wings, they wouldn't bump their ass a'hoppin.

People are being relatively reasonable about it (everyone except my mother) but we're gonna hunker down. Hope it doesn't get too dicey: all the liquor stores are closed.

Dan_in_Austin said...

Anybody planning to evacuate inland - bring bedding! It is not provided by the shelters.

Holly said...

Alan is exactly right. We're not in an evacuation zone and the key to hurricane survival is "run from the water, hide from the wind." We are in no danger from storm surge (we're in the middle of Houston) and our neighborhood did not flood during TS Allison, so we will not flood from Ike - Ike's danger is wind, not water. Our house should be able to withstand the 75-90 mph winds. The Science Guy's blog is a great site for more info.

I think it's irresponsible to evacuate when you're in no danger - lost power is an inconvenience, but if you don't have infants, old people or people with health issues, it's not a danger. There are people on the coast in genuine danger, and they need the evacuation routes. The traffic horror experienced in Rita happened because people who lived far inland, and were in no danger from storm surge or serious flooding, wigged out and fled when they should have stayed put.

Freeman Hunt said...

My brother is stuck in a hotel in Houston. It's next to the floodplain, but he says it's on a hill. Hope he's okay.

Beth said...

All great answers on when to, when not to evacuate. VB - not all of NOLA is a basin, but the parts that are, should evac, no doubt. The rest are now in debate because of how costly it is to do so, and how long they made us wait to return.

We've done better in La. with pet evacuation shelters this year; I'd like to see that improve Gulf-wide, as I think it would improve evacuation rates. Even our public bus evacuations heading for shelters had accompanying pet buses, managed by the local animal shelters. At our evacuation site, I went to a couple of tent pet shelters that were outfitted handsomely with clean crates, veterinarians on site, and cooled by huge air conditioners attached to flexible ducts, all set up by prison labor. Pet owners were responsible for walking and feeding their animals.

Several of our lower parishes have had to evacuate for Ike even though we're nowhere near its eye. It's a big, big storm with lots of wind pushing water from the Gulf inland. Here in the city we've closed canal gates to the Lake. Right now, Jindal is on TV saying we expect a storm surge similar to Katrina -- that's bad for us, but worse for Galveston!

I just talked to a student who lives about 30 miles from me, in Lafitte. On TV, I saw an evac order go out for her area, but her family was unable to leave. She said the water just came up too fast -- I hope anyone in the Texas coast who's thinking of staying pays attention to that. One minute it's dry, the next minute the roads are overcome.

Because we're experiencing only 40-55 mph winds, she'll be fine with a vertical evacuation. Her aunt has a house on risers, outfitted with a whole-house generator, and they'll just sit tight until the storm passes and the water drains. My student uses a battery-powered wheelchair and some men were able to carry it up the 13-feet to the house, which is a great relief.

cardeblu said...

Freeman Hunt: "My brother is stuck in a hotel in Houston. It's next to the floodplain, but he says it's on a hill. Hope he's okay."

There's a hill in Houston?! ;) I lived there for about 10 years ('82-'92) and don't remember any high ground, just a flat horizon and tall buildings. We were there for Alicia in '83 which, for this former Idaho farm girl, was a trip--horizontal rain, flooded parking lot up to the knees, etc.

I hope your brother will be okay, along with all of my husband's family. One is in Dickinson and another in Webster, both, south of Houston/north of Galveston. He has another brother in Kingwood and should be all right to some extent but has tons of tall pines.

Prayers for all.

Susan said...

I'd add another reason people don't leave. Often the authorities are slow in letting people return. After Gustav I heard they weren't letting residents back in because "the electricity wasn't back on yet". Oh great, next time those people won't leave.

mcg said...

Yeah, and frogs had wings, they wouldn't bump their ass a'hoppin.

Oh yeah, someone has seen my favorite movie a time or two.

By the way, that web site looks cool; I just found it. What I've linked to is a custom-made clip of Raising Arizona, but you can actually watch the whole movie on there.

Beth said...

Freeman, I can understand your worries for your brother. Unless I'm misunderstanding the storm completely, it looks like it's the coastal areas that are in the danger zone for flooding and surge. In the city, the hotel should have some elevation, upper floors, and inner areas if the winds get bad. They're not pushing a big evacuation in Houston, so that's a good sign.

Richard Fagin said...

I'm at my desk in Richmond, working away until the power goes off. Be safe, fellow Houstonians.


They're predicting a cold front after the storm leaves the area. It might even be tolerable without AC for a few days.

Beth said...

Susan - exactly! The storm hit and passed on Monday, but Nagin was not going to let people in until Thursday. He eventually caved and let us in on Wednesday, but only because carloads of people with pets and kids were lined up at the parish line. They couldn't afford any more nights in hotels, and couldn't get any gas to remain on the road. Even with no electricity, one can do just fine with water and canned food at home. Alot of people live paycheck to paycheck, and have to return home and to work as quickly as possible.

rhhardin said...

Continental 9945 from Houston to Miami seems to be ignoring it, to judge by the straight line

link

(I assume the link will work but who knows. Anyway not after an hour from now though.)

john said...

Being far away from Ike's path, I have no inkling about what you in the path might be in for. Maybe, before the power goes out, you can help me interpret this headline of a warning from the NWS about those who don't evacute:

"Certain death likely".

rhhardin said...

``Certain death likely'' is like probability of precipitation. You don't know what it means. Is it somewhere, or where you happen to be? Nobody knows.

``Taxes likely'' could be the follow on, when the weather service budget comes up. Look for tornado warnings, which are always popular near budget decisions.

john said...

rhhardin - are you on a plane right now?

MadisonMan said...

Death Likely is closer to the point. If you're dead, does it matter that certain death has been visited upon you, not just death? If you stay behind, you will likely die. That's a nice sentence, direct and to the point.

That flightaware link is awesome. I'd forgotten about that url!

Terri said...

Austin is dry and sunny, but some clouds moving in. Hopefully we'll get some rain out of this, if we're lucky. We need it. Schools closed early today to make way for evacuees.

But my son in Lubbock says they have had over 7 inches of rain in the last 24 hours and are flooded - nothing to do with Ike, but pretty bad for a flat place like Lubbock. Schools closed and all of his profs cancelled their classes today at Tech.

George said...

Isaac's Storm...chilling book about the 1900 hurricane, told from the point of view of a US meteologist who sorta kinda did and didn't make the forecast.

People holed up in their homes. When the storm surge hit in the middle of the night, it took the houses apart.

And there was an orphanage. The nuns roped all the children together. To keep them safe.

Holly said...

George: my great grandmother was attending a Catholic girls' boarding school on Galveston in 1900 - the nuns put them on the top floor of the school, and they watched dead bodies float by.

My other greatgrandmother was in the hurricane that went through Galveston a few years later - they lost 2,000 people that time, but the seawall has half built and it was very effective.

My sister had a beautiful house on the West End of Galveston this morning. I think it's probably gone now.

I'm worried about the island as a whole. we could be looking at a wipeout.

Douglas said...

mcg: Best movie EVER!

I wish people would turn off their TV and focus up for a second. This is a Cat 2 storm. I don't know why this dissapointes the media, but it seems to. It's going to get windy, and floody. For some sick reason, this is why some of these weirdos live here. I read that 40% of the Island didn't even evacuate. I gaurantee, they're staying at home, drunk as a monkey, and laughing at all those idiots standing on the seawall with their CNN rain coats.

Holly said...

Douglas: categories are based on wind speed; Ike is a Cat 2 for its winds, but they are forecasting a cat 4 storm surge. And they're right - the surge hasn't even hit yet and Galveston is under water.

Elliott A said...

After seeing the devastation of my area, Southeastern Virginia, and disruption of life and business caused by Isabel in 2003, my heart goes out to those folks. Isabel was barely a category 1 here, yet all you saw was downed trees, damaged roofs, flooding and no power or water. Some people had no power for weeks. The chamber of commerce estimated the average loss of business was 25% for the year since nobody went out or bought anything for months. It took nearly a year for our dental practice to get back to normal, and the same at all the other practices, restaurants, etc. This will be much, much worse. Until you live through it, you can't appreciate it. Of course, that's the price we pay for enjoying the coast the rest of the time.

tjl said...

Beth,

Thanks for the advice to us Houstonians - you certainly are the voice of experience in matters of hurricane survival.

My partner and I managed to find what must be the last restaurant in town still open, and had what will probably be our last dinner out for days uncounted. As 5 million people are expected to lose power, it may be a major wait for the civilized comforts to return.

Wish us luck!

somefeller said...

Still quiet as of now. As pointed out above, the main fear isn't wind and rain, but the fact this storm has a seriously above-average storm surge, which will wreak havoc in Galveston and on the coast. Most of the Houston metro area is further inland (including where I live), but tonight should be a rough one.

Also, Fen, as pointed out above, the recommendation from the civil defense folks was to shelter in place unless you were in an evacuation zone, which most people in the Houston area are not in. The highways during Rita turned out to be a dangerous place to be (see this horrific example), so the recommendation was to stay unless you had personal reasons to get out (personal necessary medical equipment that needs electricity, etc.).

Gonna be a long night.

tjl said...

We evacuated for Rita and the nightmarish experience convinced us we'd never evacuate again for anything less than Category 12.

Clyde said...

It's not just the people in Texas and Louisiana who are going to be affected by Ike. We may have a large chunk of our refining capacity go offline for a while, depending on how bad the damage is. I hope you've enjoyed the sub-$4.00 a gallon gasoline, because it's gonna be gone, baby, gone, I'm guessing by Monday morning. I just tanked up at $3.71 for regular (it was $3.59 yesterday) and I don't expect to see it that cheap again soon.

Say a prayer for the people who have unwisely decided not to evacuate from Galveston Island. I have a bad feeling about this.

Richard Fagin said...

I'm with Clyde, having spent nine hours on the back roads trying to escape Rita in 2005.

8:12pm and the power is still on in Richmond.

Prayers duly noted and thanks, Peter Bella.

NoBorg said...

The Texas City area has a truly staggering amount of petroleum industry infrastructure. I spoke to someone this morning who said that they had intended to leave his company's TC refinery on hot standby to avoid problems when starting back up (a common practice) but the plans were cancelled as it was judged too dangerous to leave even the small rideout crew this required.

There is a real possibility that a meaningful portion of North American petroleum refining capacity is going to be destroyed or knocked offline for a long time. We could be looking at some pretty expensive gas soon.

That may sound trivial next to the people whose lives are in danger but bear in mind it affects an enormous number of people.

Kelly said...

Hubby, kids and I are in the west side 'burbs, and we're ready as we need to be. Hoping all neighbors picked potential projectiles out of their yards, and beyond that, we just sit and wait. Hubby and kids distracting themselves by playing the Wii (even though the power surges are hampering their efforts), and I'm glued to the tube and laptop in the other room.

Galveston is already a mess, and it started early this morning. Just shy of 100 people rescued before a drop of rain fell, and the west end of Galveston looks like it likely will be a total loss. Debris everywhere, seawall breached, piers destroyed, and a massive fire in the yacht basin (firefighters couldn't get to it, so they just had to watch it burn).

So sad. The estimated 20% who didn't evacuate Galveston island are in for the worst night of their lives, and I hope some survive, but it's looking very bad for them. All power out on the island.

All of us sleeping in the same room tonight, and we're hoping for at least some rest. Thanks for thinking of everyone in the area. Best wishes to everyone in the surge zone.

somefeller said...

Still no rain at 8:55pm where I live (inner loop Houston). Winds are picking up, but still not at consistent tropical storm levels. According to the news, Galveston is taking a hell of a beating from the storm surge, large areas of the island underwater.

I'm going to have a glass of wine and maybe a cigarette in a little while, and wait.

Holly said...

We've drank beer, had a mini-party, now we're inside and waiting for the hit, just outside the Loop. I'm pretty libertarian, I tend to think people should be left alone to live their lives - but those morons who chose to stay on Galveston? Those who have kids should f***** lose them. I swear to God - that just appalls me. You can risk your life for whatever dumbass reason you have but for God's sake, get your kids to safety first.

vbspurs said...

I'm watching news coverage as it happens, and I know most of you already must be out of power.

Go to your bathrooms, hunker down with a mattress in case you feel your house swaying, and make sure you have potable water near you.

God bless you guys!!

Cheers,
Victoria

reader_iam said...

I'm glad to see Beth weighing in here.

I just spent some time with my best girlfriend for life who now lives something like 30-so minutes outside of Austin (after a couple of decades living in Austin). She told me they had just been outside looking at the sky, with all its tell-tale signs, and about the winds' picking-up. Of course, we also talked about Galveston, Port Aransas (oh, the birds!) and various other relevant places in the area in which we have vacationed (together or separately), and where a number of friends/acquaintances live.

We also talked about Ike's impact on places which, while they might not be getting eye-whacked as Galvesto et al are, have by no means had time (even just ecologically speaking) to recover from Gustav. The word "cumulative" is relevant.

Hell, here in my neck of Iowa, the Mississippi and Rock rivers have yet to assume what would, in typical years, be their normal appearance at this point...months after the apex. So what must it be like for our friends, neighbors, cities along the Gulf Coast, whether "directly and direly" hit or no? (Obviously, that's not to minimize the situation of those hit in direct and dire terms by Ike; rather the opposite.) Impacts and effects do not exist in vacuums, in this context.

Prayers AND crossed fingers all around--doesn't hurt to hit all bases, after all.

reader_iam said...

I inadvertently deleted the part of my original comment relating to Houston and people there, but really: no matter. The drift is well covered already in this thread.

(())

Beth said...

I'm guessing our Houston friends may be offline now. VB's advice is good - get to the innner part of the house, with a mattress, because there will be glass breaking.

Hi reader! My thoughts were on the same path as yours. Cameron Parish is currently being slammed, below Lake Charles. Before Katrina, it was a beautiful combination of marsh and prairie, a wildlife and bird refuge. Just gorgeous. I haven't had the heart to drive through there yet, and now I can't imagine what those folks are going through tonight. And I can only hope for the ones who decided to stay in Galveston. I agree, anyone who'd keep their kids in harm's way, well, I just can't understand it.

AlphaLiberal said...

This calls for Wundermap.

Here's a map of Texas refineries done by a helpful cartographer. A hurricane taking a couple of these of these out would really be an inconvenience, to put it mildly.

No sure when it becomes a real economy damaging problem. On the heels of La platforms going down, we could see quite a run up in prices.

rhhardin said...

THe weather bureau has come up with a radar that keeps working when the eye wall of a hurricane goes over it (3am), whatever else is true.

radar

Galveston traffic cams seem to be out.

rhhardin said...

The traffic cam map hereindicates (one infers) power on 20 miles north and west of Houston, but not closer to the water.

rhhardin said...

Houston airports are reporting air quality good.

joyce said...

Its me again---from first poster to last---raining in the DFW area now. The first bands have made it all the way up here.

Holly said...

Well, it's bad but not awful in the hood this morning (Meyer Park/Willowbend area). Trees down everywhere, street flooded but no one has water in their yards or house. Hub got the generator running so we have a fridge and a fan and some lights, and a cold front followed Ike in so it's actually pleasantly cool outside, although raining steadily. I lay awake from midnite to 4 listening to the wind - it was scary, not terrifying. Not sure the hub will let me run the laptop off the generator when the battery goes out. Water pressure is low but it's running. Cell phone is intermittant so can't reach all our peeps yet.

I may have to sedate my kid, who is climbing the walls - she's announced that this is one of the most boring days of her life and I said - amen sister, and thank the Lord for that.

Freeman Hunt said...

Just talked to the Freebrother. He's fine and says it was like any other big storm except that the wind only came from one direction. His car wasn't damaged though he did find a large piece of seaweed on it. (Strange because he's closer to Bellaire, Texas than the bay.)

Beth said...

So good to hear from Holly and Freeman that all is well and all their loved ones are safe.

rhhardin said...

she's announced that this is one of the most boring days of her life

The trick is being easily entertained.

For instance, just now, Vicki my Doberman was starting off a dish of rice (I cook for two) which she loves, and above her the microwave was cooking a bag of chicken bits; the bag (as sometimes happens) popped loudly.

As of now, the dish of rice is only partly eaten and there's no Doberman in sight.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

As of Saturday afternoon Austin is still hoping for some rain. There was a convoy of disaster-response trailer trucks at a nearby mall, accompanied by news vans, and a while later they cleared out.

reader_iam said...

Richard: My best girlfriend mentioned that bit of irony last night ... the Austin area could use rain. When I was there just a few weeks ago for her wedding, we had to be s-o-o-o-o careful about any sort of flame; the yard & etc. was that dry. It was no joke. At the reception, held at their home in the country 30-40 minutes outside Austin, people had to be cautioned about smoking safety. And as an ongoing precaution, a supply of sand and of water is kept at the ready near the barbecue etc.

joyce said...

Houston is without power, but of our 18 relatives in the area down there, two have power. the west side towns were not hit as hard. I cannot imagine living in Houston without AC. Yikes. Humid. Hot, and muggy.