Saturday, September 24, 2005

Hurricane Rita: Riding Rita - Still Alive and Kicking - No power

I have very little power in my battery on my Ibook - Judy kept doing the upates on her blog and I waited to conserve power. A few trees are down on my 6 acres - none near the house, and we have a magled piece of tin on the northeastern edge of the roof, and lots of tree limb debris. Lost power at 6L30 am, gust to 119 mph near us, The lake Livingston dam is damaged so there might be a problem below the dam when they release all that water. We have food, water and a guitar. Later!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Riding Rita: Outer bands Hit soft Near Lake Livingston

11:01 pm - We are in between bands and the wind is down here. In fact, it is so quiet we can hear the crickets and the treefrogs cgirping - but we still have a steady wind in the treetops, about 20-25 mph. Lower down near the ground it is quiet, and the rain is still just sprinkles. Occassional heavy gusts. We are watching firefighters try to contain a fire that is consuming three historic buildings in Galveston at the corner of 19th street and Post Office. These buildings are just a block from the Strand, the historic district of old galveston - they do up Mardis Gras there each year, but not as good as new orleans.

Judy is using this time to sleep upstairs before the big winds hit us in a couple of hours. The cat, Einstein, is busy palying with his toys and hiding under the ottoman, Cooked some of the food since the power will go out soon. In Houston and the near areas at least 95,000 people are without power so far. A fresh report out from the State of Texas says that Houston is drained of gasoline, and they are requesting that evacuees stay away until the Harris county Judge gives the okay to come back. More than 2.7 million people were evacuated, and the traffic was so bad that the is no gas anywhere in the evacuation flow zones, no motel/hotel rooms, and a lot of these folks had to be taken into hastily set up shelter sites. My wife's work, Sam Houston State University, is one of those shelters that have taken in stranded motorists, housing them in the coloseum. They have already told Judy tht she should not report in until Tuesday. Nothing left on the store shelves in east Texas. Many people died waiting in traffic while evacuating, 100 degree heat and no shade, reports of 31 hours trips, one bus exploded into flame and killed 24 rest home evacuees on oxygen near Wilmer, south of Dallas. Amazing. More later if possible.


Rita Update: Steady 30 MPH winds so far - Still Riding High

9:35 pm - still watching TV, catching the updates from the Medai, and watching the season premier of Numb3rs. Wind speed is a steady 30 MPH with gusts that rattle the house - I'd say still 50 -55 mph range. the cat is under under the ottoman - he would rather be outside in all that interesting stuff going on, but he is a big scaredy cat! So far, so good - still have power and phone - and TV. Later, all. Port Arthur is getting slammed hard - glad I am not there! It is very dark outside - no trees down yet on my six acres - I have mostly hardwood oaks, we have few pines but they should not fall on the house.

I wish I drank; I'd have a Rita 'rita party! Got a few cigars, some Dr Pepper, plenty of food and a computer! What more can a body need!

Hurricane Rita Update: Riding Rita - Here is my wife's blog and her Rita Hurricane report.

Ms. Judy's House of Fun Check it out - Ms. Judy's House of Fun - my other half! She is blogging Hurricane Rita, too, and may have different info than me.

Link: Click here to go to the News Story

Huricane Rita: In The Path - An East Texan Blogs the "Cane

Rita spins toward Texas-Louisiana border

For those who might want to live vicariously through others, I have decided to Blog our adventures in Rita Survival. Background - We live 20 miles West of Livingston, Texas, and one mile from the lake at the juncture of Trinity, Polk and San Jacinto Counties. Our house is a small, modified A-frame that was built by us in 1994. The hold-outs are me, my wife (see her blog in my faves called "significant other"), and our new cat, Einstein ( a rescued 6 month old Seal point Cream Tabby).

We could've evacuated to Dallas or Arkansas, but the exodus from the coastal areas and Houston was total madness. Yesterday, we tried to by some food at the local store and gas up and it was chaos - all the evacuees had cleaned the shelves of food and drained the gas stations of gas. We have enough food for several days - a couple of weeks worth of can goods; 20 gallons of clean, potable water (a few drops of clorox Bleach can keep bacteria from contaminating the water); flashlights, cameras, cell phones, portable computers (ibooks) Battery radio, candles, cooked and ready food, all our important stuff bosed up. The most important things we protected was my bonsai plants - some of them are 25 - 30 years old! We have a safe place in our house, and a shed that is our secondary refuge - it withstood a near direct tornado hit which tore our house apart when we were building the house - the house was not as strong at that stage, just four walls and subflooring.

We are prepared! Today, we felt the first large wind gusts at 6:pm. At 7:pm., we had some high gusts in the 55 -60 MPH category. We still have power and phon, and connection to the internet. Wind remains steady at about 25 -30 mph. We heard from a friend whose hubby works for a power company (a lineman) that our SHECO power co-op will shut down power at midnioght tonight. I hope not, but we are actually watching Ghostwhisperer on KBTX Bryan/College Station!

8:00 pm, and we are watching Threshold - the only other channels we ever pick up are running 24/7 hurricane coverage. It gets boring after 72 hours of this stuff - I just need to know the basic facts - not talking heads.

Almost 9 pm, we are hunkered down with an ear to the storm - I opened our door and lo and behold - it was as still as FEMA's Head - no wind at all. eerie!. I know it is just a lull in the storm - between bands. The radar looks as though we will be slammed. I will try to report as long as the lines hold up. Rita is supposed to hit (the eye) Port Aurthor between 1 am and 5 am. By that time we should have hurricane force winds coming from the North. Later.


Link: Click here to go to the News Story

Thursday, September 08, 2005

"What didn't go right?" Says Bush of FEMA Response

Salon.com | "What didn't go right?" - NP

According to Salon.com, The president thinks the FEMA response to Katrina was just fine, and that FEMA director Brown is doing a great job. Sydney Blumenthal, at Salon, says the Bush agenda of limited government has been tested and has failed in this incarnation. Read the story at the link for more info.

The sad part is that, though limited government is something to strive for, in national emergencies like the devastation of an entire, important part of the Gulf Coast by a natural force, the federal government is supposed to act - it is up there with projects too big for a single state to handle - like Wars, treaties, and massive roads.

For those of us who like to cite the Constitution, let's remember that it is in the preamble that guides me to this conclusion: "insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity". There was no domestic tranquility in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the common defense - more than one state was affected, the three which were devastaed by katrina, and the many states who have taken in refugees - straining their resources (especially Texas); the general welfare of the people in the region was affected, obviously. The entire Nation was affected, both economically and socially. Our tax dollars go into that big hole called D.C., and they are seldom given out these days. If this type of situation is not the kind of significant event to involve fast response from the feds, then no event is. Blame game? You bet there is plenty of blame to go around, but sticking one's head in a hole and denying the responsibility or the accountability is idiotic and wrong.


Link: Click here to go to the News Story

Monday, September 05, 2005

Blame Game Escalates As Bush Sends More Troops and Top Cabinet Members

Officials Deal With Political Fallout by Pointing Fingers

The blame game comes full force as the president sends his top people into the Katrina disaster area Sunday to do some PR damage control. Condy was sent to Alabama, her home state, to go to church and to tell people the president did not abandon people based on race (which could imply they abandoned people without regard to race), and this administration is doing all it can to make a coordinated relief effort work. She also stated the time for recriminations of late relief aid is not this time.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was sent to the region to coordinate efforts in as Bush's point man in the region, although FEMA director Brown is the person who has the responsibility. Publicly, the Bush Team praises Brown in his handling of the disaster, but privately aides to the president seem to lay the blame for the slow response on Brown's doorstep.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld went to New Orleans and praised everyone for "doing a great job", did some gladhanding, and then toured some of operations of the troops.

The official spin and talking points for the Bush administration in the handling of this disaster are as follows, It's not the federal government's fault - it is the state and local governments that failed to act or notify the feds of what was needed; The troops and aid are here now, so now is not the time to criticize the Bush administration at this time - let's get through this and help the people first; Everyone was on vacation - the president was in Crawford but he cut his vacation short by two days, the VP was in Wyoming and cut his vacation short by returning to washington on Thursday, top aides were on vacation; and, according to the Washington Post "Nicolle Devenish, the president's top communications adviser, is getting married in Greece with a number of mid-level aides in attendance.".

It seems that now there is a power struggle - Bush tried to federalize the relief effort and take control of the National Guard and other operations. Gov. Blanco of Lousiana was furious and turned the prez down cold. Who is in charge of this chicken outfit? I don't know, and I doubt you know, either - Billions of bucks were appropriated for Homeland Security, which now has control of all federal disaster relief agencies, and it went to federal, state and local agencies for the past four years and nobody was prepared for this scenario? What a mess - and the people suffer.


Link: Click here to go to the News Story

Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina: Look for Missing - Post a message for Missing at National Registry

Looking for... - Hurricane Katrina - MSNBC.comTo find out if a person has been found, or to post a person that is missing, go here to the MSNBC National Registry of Missing persons. They also have safe lists of people who are accounted for. If you cannot get on, post a comment and I will post the info for you.

Link: Click here to go to the News Story

New Orleans Disaster Predicted in '01 - 3rd Most Likely Scenario

HoustonChronicle.com - The foretelling of a deadly disaster in New Orleans

Here is an article published back in 2001 that the Houston chronicle has reprinted for the relevance it holds today. It stated the problem of New Orleans as the third most likely disaster scenario in the nation - and that disaster has happened - read it for perspective.

I have been silent lately due to work load and waiting for a positive outlook on Katrina. As a true blue Texan, I have been through a lot of Hurricanes, and storms. My first brush with these massive storms was Carla in 1960 or 61. I was a small kid when that storm devastated Houston. I even helped my dad clear debris from the house duringthe eye of Carla - If you have never been in the eye of a Hurricane, it is truly amazing - very calm, birds flying and chirping, blue skies, and no wind - then the other side of the hurricane hits you again, but the winds come from the other direction, tearing everything up anew and throwing debris the ooposite way. There have been others, but the main ones were Aleshia and Allison. These storms came up Hurricane alley, Galveston -Houston-Dallas, and tore up lots of places, and flooded others. The relief efforts were poorly coordinated then, and we evidently have not learned from our mistakes.

I will hold my criticism for now, and I hope the agencies, public and private, manage to stem the deaths and misery soon. We have had evacuees everywhere in Texas since the weekend, and we are having a capacity problem. The Astrodome is the only major center opened in Houston, but yet we have at least five major convention centers, arenas and stadiums. Not opening these up and leaving evacuees to fend for themselves is just not right. Dallas has opened up one of their centers and San Antonio has also agreed to take in evacuees. Houston is the major evacuation center - and it is falling behind giving much needed aid - the dome is already at capacity, and the mayor is trying to take the "measured" approach. Well, guess what? The "measured approach is just not good enough just now - immediacy and full response is the only way to go - for now.

If you are looking for a loved one in Texas - feel free to drop me a note here, and I will try to use my resources to check the lists. The local Bar Association in Houston is trying to gather lists and names, and they are trying to find homes for the displaced people of Louisiana, having joined forces with the Houston Area Realtors. A lot of real estate is being donated for the cause for free all around the city.


Link: Click here to go to the News Story

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