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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Beldar unpanicked by Ike

An enormous amount of news broadcasting about hurricanes is unserious and irresponsible. Even print media's coverage can be pretty hysterical. I've seen quite a few big storms, starting with Tropical Storm Claudette when I was a summer law clerk here in 1979 and Hurricane Allen on the same weekend that I first moved to Houston full-time in August 1980, so I take the current hype with a grain of salt.

This article, and especially the embedded map of surge zones, is genuinely useful for those in the Houston area who are concerned about the approach of Hurricane Ike. To begin with, every Houstonian ought to know what a surge zone is, and whether he or she lives in a surge zone, and if so, which one. It makes a big difference, and one ought not wait to figure it out until the day of a surge zone evacuation order.

I don't. That doesn't make me, or those like me, immune from nasty consequences like wind damage, localized flooding, and power outages. But I'm unlikely to be evacuating inland on this one. And as long as I have power and internet access, I'll probably still be playing whack-a-mole with smears against Sarah Palin.

Posted by Beldar at 07:18 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink

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Comments

(1) LibbyLA made the following comment | Sep 10, 2008 7:28:31 PM | Permalink

Beldar,

Ah, but the power's the thing (and telephone service and cable). Just ask those of us here in Baton Rouge... I don't think anyone anticipated the level of damage we've experienced here. After all, we're a fair distance from the coast. Many people are still without power and are likely to be so for as much as two weeks longer.

The media abandoned LA as soon as it was clear that the levees wouldn't break and NO wouldn't flood so the scope of the damage hasn't been reported much outside the area.

I hope that Houston doesn't suffer the hit that Baton Rouge did, for that would be a much greater nightmare.

(2) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 10, 2008 7:32:41 PM | Permalink

Baton Rouge and many other inland Louisiana cities got nowhere near the credit their citizens and city governments were due during and after Katrina. As you point out, they had their own catastrophes to deal with, but that generally didn't stop them from shouldering responsibilities to help New Orleans. Thanks for the good wishes, LibbyLA.

(3) Cherie made the following comment | Sep 10, 2008 8:31:58 PM | Permalink

Hope you have a little doggie-bag/emergency kit for Weiss, just in case... the both of you will be in my prayers!

(4) hunter made the following comment | Sep 10, 2008 8:58:37 PM | Permalink

Ditto. I had the pleasure of discovering your blog in the great Texodus. YOu were one of the few not allowing the panic to take you into the gridlock.
We are staying for Ike, although I am concerned we are going to get a wacking from it.

(5) LibbyLA made the following comment | Sep 10, 2008 9:02:05 PM | Permalink

Beldar,

I'm talking about Gustav. Sorry that I wasn't clear. Katrina was a relative cakewalk for BR compared to Gustav (and Katrina was pretty awful for us)!

We are over a week past the storm and I think about 30% of the households in this parish (which has a population of about 425,000 people) is still without power. About a quarter of our traffic signals still don't work. Some neighborhoods probably won't have power for another couple of weeks.

The main streets were actually drivable today (without bumper to bumper four-way-stop traffic) and Wal-Mart had a decent stock of perishables and no lines (for the first time since the storm).

The phones worked the early morning after the storm passed, then they went out and service was non-existent or spotty for days.

We're finally getting out from under the curfew tomorrow. The first night after the storm, there were NO LIGHTS in the parish. All you could see on the TV station's 360 degree camera were the lights at the port across the river and car headlights. It was pitch black dark.

You just don't realize how bad it truly can be until you live it. I'm fortunate that I was able to leave town and head somewhere with power, phones, cable, and internet. I didn't want to deal with the long lines to get FEMA ice and the misery of the heat.

Sorry to sound like Eeyore, and you probably aren't going to have to experience Gustav-like conditions, but I'm just saying that not being in the surge zone doesn't necessarily mean you won't have several days of miserable conditions. Gustav did more damage here in BR than any storm in recent history (including Betsy, with an eye that passed almost through BR). Best not to be complacent. At least have supplies for three or more days, the more the better.

(6) Steve made the following comment | Sep 10, 2008 10:39:10 PM | Permalink

I was at Wednesday's rally in Fairfax. It was incredible, believe me. The word I would use is "Inspiring". The energy, optimism and enthusiasm there was something I won't soon forget.

I have pictures on my homepage COMMON CENTS:
http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

(7) Mark L made the following comment | Sep 11, 2008 9:52:21 AM | Permalink

Beldar:

I am in League City, and will probably ride this one out in League City. It is now a Cat 2, and not expected to rise above a Cat 3. Maybe even a weak Cat 3.

We have battened down, and boarded over a couple of at-risk windows. If it does any strengthening we will spend Friday at my father-in-law's place (which is about three feet higher than mine).

Run from the water -- hide from the wind. There is more risk in evacuating if you are not likely to get flooded than in staying put.

(8) MrSpkr made the following comment | Sep 11, 2008 12:27:22 PM | Permalink

Best of luck, Beldar. I'll be praying for you.

(9) rocat made the following comment | Sep 11, 2008 1:56:21 PM | Permalink

I remember Allen. They'd show the pictures on the news and it looked like it filled the whole Gulf and was headed straight for Houston.

Then it veered south and tore up a bunch of cactus and mesquite south of Corpus, spawned tornadoes in Austin and San Antonio, and Houston stayed sunny... hope Ike follows suit and leaves you sunny again!

Good luck, stay safe! And hopefully, even if you lost power you'll get it back quickly enough to not have to come back to a huge backlog of phony Palin "problems"...

(10) EHeavenlyGads made the following comment | Sep 11, 2008 2:57:43 PM | Permalink

I do hope you reside in The Heights...

With that hope in mind, if I were you, I'd go ahead and start printing out the lies du jour and look forward to having plenty of time to edit your responses during the power outages likely to come. Got a new book on the bedside table to review for us? (I've always enjoyed those.)

We have several friends in the Houston area who are also planning to stay put with their families, despite our many invitations to come to our home in Plano and enjoy custom cocktails and homemade fare throughout the weekend. I was shocked that anyone could possibly turn that one down, but they have...so far.

I wish you and yours every good fortune, counselor. Just remember the immortal words of our own Ron White: "It isn't THAT the wind blows; it's WHAT the wind blows.

PS to Mark: You dunderhead. It's NEVER a bad idea to evacuate, unless you wait until the storm is arriving before trying to do so. I certainly wish you and yours a safe journey in the days ahead, as well.

(11) steve sturm made the following comment | Sep 11, 2008 4:53:43 PM | Permalink

I would expect nothing less from someone brave enough to defend the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

And with the slurs against Palin coming almost hourly, I figure you'll be posting on a regular basis, so your fan club won't have to worry how you're doing.

(12) DRJ made the following comment | Sep 11, 2008 9:12:21 PM | Permalink

My Houston relatives are staying put, too. Best wishes to everyone.

(13) Mark L made the following comment | Sep 18, 2008 1:52:44 PM | Permalink

Dunderhead? My house had downed limbs, but that was it. We will not even be filing an insurance claim. The only reason that it took me this long to respond is that power only came back yesterday. (A transformer went down.)

Nobody on the west side of League City -- except those immediately near Clear Creek experienced flooding. And, from what I have seen and heard those on the north side of Houston got smacked a lot worse than League City.

Was the hurricane loud and noisy? Yep. But as my dad told me when I was a child, sound never killed anyone.

Hurricanes ain't H-bombs. Of the 20,000 that apparently stayed on Galveston Island, all but maybe a dozen, survived. And that was ground zero. That was where it flooded. (And no, I am not saying you should stay on Galveston Island. I would not. But I am saying that staying is not automatically fatal. Look at the numbers. More died of monoxide poisoning in Texas than drowned on Galveston Island.)

If you are in an area above the storm surge you are safer staying than going. Certainly for a Cat 2. A modern, well-built house provides safe shelter from the winds.

Tornadoes? Yes, they are a risk, but they are as much a risk wherever the hurricane goes. My boss went to Huntsville, which got raked by tornadoes.

As for the discomfort of living in an unairconditioned house with no electricity and questionable water? It's not that bad. We used our gas grill to fix meals. We also had enough water to get by until the city said the water was safe to drink. We even had hot showers (gas water heater). Given the choice between that discomfort and the discomfort of an emergency shelter there is no question. Home is more comfortable.

There is a lot of hype about hurricanes. Most of it is about as accurate as an Andrew Sullivan blog post.


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