September 21, 2005

A Post for the Citizens of the Great State of Texas

If you reside in Texas, in particular East Texas, I suggest you listen up. There’s gonna be a quiz afterwards.

If you live in Galveston and have chosen not to evacuate, may the Lord be with you, because anyone with half a brain won’t be… and you’re probably gonna die.

If you live on the coast within that cone of probability of landfall and have chosen not to evacuate, I suggest you get on-line and look at some pictures of Biloxi, Gulfport and Pascagoula. Go HERE and take a look at some stuff… blow by blow on the coast. Click on the individual blocks. If that doesn’t change your mind, look at my advice for those from Galveston in the above paragraph.

For you Texans that live within 50 miles of the coast (maybe more… 50 miles was a SWAG), but are NOT considered coastal, here’s the deal. If it’s a strong 4 or 5 and you have decided not to evac… look up pictures of Ivan or Andrew and that’s what you’re facing folks. You are damn close to being too late to prepare if you have not. Gas, propane, water, food, cash, batteries, flashlights… a safe place to hunker down… get ready folks because you are all in for a ride that is making me reverberate just thinking about it.

There’s a difference between those who have been through hurricanes and those who have not. Those who have are filled with dread tinged with terror for both what they know and what they don’t know. As a pilot of one of the last C-141 squadrons said to me during an interview once, “Flying a C-141 is like being in a flight simulator. You know something’s gonna go wrong. You just don’t know what it is.” Likewise a big hurricane. Something’s gonna happen… something bad… you just don’t know EXACTLY what. Will you lose your roof? Will you lose windows? Will water pour in somewhere? Will a tree fall on your home? Will there be a tornado? When will you lose power? Losing power is the least of your worries.

Those who have never been through one… they are just scared of the unknown. They’ve never heard it, seen it… felt it. Words… words I have written here cannot do it justice. Until you experience, you cannot fathom.

If you are within the close proximity of this bitch of a storm… make a list of things you want to keep and get it in a safe box where it cannot get wet. Insurance papers, family photos, medical records, heirlooms… put them in plastic bags, double bag them, put them in plastic boxes. It is the best you can do. MAKE A LIST of what you do not want destroyed, then act on attempting to preserve it. Do not forget your MEDICATIONS. Think about provisions for them now. If they don’t require refrigeration, keep them with you in a bag. If they do require it, you need to start thinking long term on what you’re going to do.

Now… for you Texans who live in-land, but live in the path. This is for you. If you think because you live 100 - 200 miles away from the coast you are safe… allow me to awaken you from your little cozy dream world. Living that far out, you may not lose your roof, but rest assured, your life has the potential to be miserable.

How far do you think Orlando is from where Hurricane Charley made landfall. Over 100 miles folks and Rita makes Charley look like a toddler. Go on line and surf for pictures of Orlando after Charley. People without power. People lost their homes. They had damage. Trees still fell on homes. There was flooding. Gas stations stayed out of gas and street lights were gone.

Still not convinced? Still think you’re safe? Allow me to rattle your cage a little more. It is a 3 hour drive from New Orleans, Louisiana to Pensacola, Florida. 166 miles between the two. My folks, who live in Pensacola lost power for TWO DAYS after Katrina. How far are you from where you think that eye of Rita is coming ashore?

Think about the winds. If you think your home can sustain 70 mph winds without losing power… good on you. If you think you will lose power, then I suggest you prepare for being without power for a long while. MILLIONS of Texans are about to lose power and if you think you’re getting it the next day, think again. Your power infrastructure is about to be decimated throughout the coast and in some big cities. It’s going to be hotter than three hells on Monday without air conditioning. You will have no stove to cook on and if you live on well water, you won’t have water either. YOU BETTER BE PREPARED.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. ‘Tis better to over prepare than not to.

The media did us a justice and an injustice during Katrina. The justice? As we all watched the vast destruction of Biloxi and Gulfport and Pascagoula, as we heard the death toll climb, those who lived in other coastal cities took note. People are evacuating. People aren’t staying. People are acting.

Katrina may have killed hundreds in Louisiana and Mississippi, but she may have saved lives in Texas. The cold hard truth.

But let me tell you of the injustice… nobody has seen the destruction inland… the suffering inland. It pales in comparison to the horrors of the coast, but allow me to assure you my Texas friends, it was still a horror show, just brought down a couple notches. By not seeing what occurred inland, people still don’t get it. Nobody is talking anymore about the number of people living in inland towns of Lousiana and Mississippi who still don’t have power. But they are there. And it is hot. Nobody is showing the trees on their homes or the roofs that came apart. But they are there.

So… here’s your quiz, as promised. Who within the 200 mile radius of this big nasty storm is safe from feeling any wrath?

The answer? Nobody.

Posted by Boudicca at September 21, 2005 08:28 PM | TrackBack

I have friends that lost their roof (and a loved one) in Charley. They STILL don't have a's been over a year.

We (ok, they) are STILL missing cell towers.

Power structures are still TEMPORARY.

Inland - BAD. Not a nightmare - but really bad.

Posted by: Tammi at September 21, 2005 08:57 PM

Napster is supposed to fly through Houston on Friday.......we're working on the re-route...

Posted by: spurs at September 21, 2005 09:01 PM

Bou-this ought to be e-mailed to every TV station and radio station in Texas. It has been a while since Texas has been hit hard and they are fixing to get slammed and slammed hard.

I am just about numb from hurricanes. But I do have a lot more confidence in the local governments in Texas as well as the state government. There is just something about Texan mentality that makes them pretty damn self sufficient and I don't expect to hear the blame game from them. But as you said last time: They Are so screwed!

Posted by: GUYK at September 21, 2005 09:02 PM

Spurs- Yeah, she wants to stay the hell away from the Houston airport. What a complete mess that's going to be.

GuyK- They're in for some real changes in their perceptions. Texans are self sufficient, like we are here in Florida, but what a slap in the face its going to be to some of them.

Tammi- Orlando still didn't look 100% last weekend...

Posted by: Bou at September 21, 2005 09:10 PM

I'd love to hear you say all of this in a podcast! I can just hear you preaching this :-)

You are right, you never know these until you've been in them. They are nothing to play with!

Posted by: Sissy at September 21, 2005 10:54 PM

Sissy- Oh you should SEE me on a good rant, let alone hear me. I can really get it going... high strung and all.

Some people won't listen. They don't get it. There is no doubt in my mind that there are people in Houston thinking, "Over reacting. They're all over reacting." It'll be interesting to see what they think when they're on week 2 without power and standing in line for MREs and saying, "Please sir, may I have some ice?"

Posted by: Bou at September 21, 2005 11:40 PM

Very good!

Just a minor correction though, death toll from Katrina has hit 1000.

Posted by: Machelle at September 22, 2005 08:18 AM


I'm not sure Katrina will wind up saving many lives in Texas. She may have convinced a few of the diehards to bug out, but I think a well-conceived and well-executed evac plan will have to get the credit for moving large numbers of people out of harm's way. I don't think the affected areas put their plans together in the last three weeks - it looks like this has been planned, and maybe tested, for a while now. I've seen pictures on the 'net and video on TV of hospitals being evacuated and school buses (what a concept!) pressed into service as evacmobiles, and I get the feeling that Texas, and Texans, have their Sierra together much better than N'awlins and LA did. Of course, even though there may be very few people alive who remember the 1900 Galveston 'cane, that event is very well known in those parts. Before Katrina, what was the biggest disaster in Louisiana and/or New Orleans history? Honestly, I can't really think of one that would leave the kind of cultural imprint that the 1900 Galveston 'cane did. The combination of area history and good planning will probably be the lifesavers with Rita.

As for the rest of the post - spot-on! Jim Cantore and Company hang out at the coast, where it's exciting, but the inland impacts tend to not get anywhere near as much coverage.

Posted by: Bob at September 22, 2005 08:33 AM

Great post Bou, it scared the bleep outa me, and I'm nowhere near Texas. (But there's still plenty of time left in the seaon for Florida to get hit).

I'm glad Texas seems to get the message on evacuating. But there will always be diehards who refuse to evacuate, for lots of reasons. Katrina near-missing Key West, for instance, will convince lots of folks down there to ignore the next evac order. I wish them all luck.

Posted by: George at September 22, 2005 10:45 AM

Machelle- Yeah, I couldn't find the death toll. NOLA had not been giving numbers.

Bob- Well, I'm not sure how much forward planning was really done in TX. I know in Palm Beach County, there were some thoughts that hadn't been solidified for certain areas until the horror of Katrina. That changed for sure then and I have a hunch it was that way in TX too. Watching Katrina made them realize they better have a plan.

George- I can't wait until 1 Nov.

Posted by: Bou at September 22, 2005 07:55 PM

For the East Texas folks well inland and out of flood zones, that is tornado country. People live with their weather alert radios and retreat to the basement or storm cellar when the warning goes off. So, most of them will find it prudent to "shelter in place."
Meanwhile, the coastal evacuation has not been going all that well. One woman interviewed on TV went back to Houston after spending five hours on the road and travelling only eight miles. Another man interviewed said he was on the road for 18 hours and only covered 40 miles.
Of course, they now have opened the south and east bound lanes to north and west bound traffic. But as the hurricane veers slightly nothward they are going to find they have the same problem that SC had a few years ago evacuating Charleston. When it was OK for people to go back, they couldn't because the lanes in both directions were still full of cars pointing the wrong way.
The idea of evacuating multiple major metro areas simultaneously needs some work.

Posted by: J. Keen Holland at September 23, 2005 07:54 AM