Archive for the ‘Hurricane Rita’ Category

Hurricane RITArded or not?


Remember all of the hurricane ordeal last year? It’s this time of year again.

I’m sure we had all kinds of experiences with Hurricane Rita. We haven’t even finished taking care of and giving relief to those who came to Houston from Hurricane Katrina, and now we had to deal with Hurricane Rita (just 3 weeks later).

Some people think Hurricane Rita was a tease, others thought it was RITArded, and still others think Houston still has a long way to go, in terms of preparation for future hurricane evacuations.

For me, at least, the whole thing felt ridiculous, and I was frustrated. Since I live way out (in Friendswood and Clear Lake area), we were ordered to evacuate. And what do you know, I think I spent at least 24 hours on the road getting out of Houston and returning home to Houston. I wish I had photographs, but I was watching people acting very much like ants–hoarding carts and carts of water, tanks of gas, nonperishable food, and hygienic items. I find it scarier to meet cars (or drivers really) fighting each other for gas at gas stations than the whole evacuation itself.

Plus, I think we coined a new term for the dictionary. Instead of “major traffic,” it’s now called gridlock.

Hurricane Mandates

So, as we are making our annual preparations for the harsher part of hurricane season, I’ve been trying to figure out what the things we need to do for our family are to be sure we’re safe and ready.

One thing that I can’t control is the idiocy that goes with governments making decisions for people. For example, prior to the legislature granting authority to order mandatory evacuations in 2004, I cannot remember any organizational catastrophe like the one we saw during the Rita panic last year. When we left decision making to citizens, citizens made decisions. When we left it to the government, well, people didn’t seem to enjoy 14 hour trips much.

Also, I’m a little irritated with the weather reporting that treats every rainfall event as a major disaster. A few weeks ago, when we had some minor flooding in one area of town, you’d have thought that we were experiencing another Allison.

So, while I fully endorse good planning and preparation and the intelligence of the citizenry in making evacuation decisions, I think we need to rescind the power of the authorities to order citizens from their homes. I see no Constitutional authority to order citizens from their homes and I think there possibility is much greater that a politician will order evacuations that are not necessary just to be on the safe side and to avoid criticism. A lot of people were harmed in an unnecessary evacuation last year and a lot of pets and a few people lost their lives.

So, on this Independence Day, I’d like to declare that I don’t care one bit what the government thinks I ought to do when a storm is coming. I’ll make that decision thank you very much.

National Hurricane Preparedness Week

Still have that stash of duct tape and DD batteries you hoarded from Home Depot right before Rita/Texodus? Well, time to dig them out and dust them off because May 21-27 is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. yipee.

Also, the Houston/Galvestion National Weather Service Office is hosting a 2006 Hurricane Workshop titled Katrina and Rita: Lessons Learned for the Next Time.


This workshop will consist of a main session with several keynote speakers along with numerous breakout sessions that will cover the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Other hurricane related topics will also be covered. A vendor area will also be available for companies involved in hurricane preparedness and hurricane protection.

Stacy Stewart, a hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center, will be the workshop’s featured speaker. Mr. Stewart will talk about the active 2005 season and discuss some of the meteorological reasons that the United States had so many landfalling tropical storms and hurricanes. Mr. Stewart will also offer some projections on the 2006 Hurricane Season and what we can expect for the Atlantic Basin.

For more information, view their full schedule of 2006 Houston/Galveston Hurricane Preparedness Meetings.

Not to beat a dead horse…

…but several Houston area bloggers (including myself, and Lawrence Simon) were mentioned recently in an article in ShopTalk: The TV News Industry’s Insider Newsletter… (Third article from top, entitled “Six Lessons From Online Coverage of Hurricane Rita”).

While it’s not a huge event, I still find it quite… amusing… that Houston blogging made it into a major Industry publication, like that. (Okay, so it’s not the major publication… but it is a major publication. Let me dream a little, heh.)

So in a short sentence… GO HOUSTON! Do we know how to blog, or what?!

(EDIT: here is an easier link, directly to the story, as hosted on the Online Journalism Review website. It’s the same story, different site. No silly looking for the story amongst a page full of other stories. (Honestly, who hasn’t heard about anchors and navigation?))

NEWS – Gas shortage lingers after Rita

Eric Scalf reports on the availability of fuel the day after Rita.

(Time: 4:41)

via This Week in Houston

The Road Home – a blog that helps you get back to where you need to be

The Chronicle has a very useful new blog called The Road Home :: What You Need To Know For A Safe Return.

Un-evacuees (if that makes sense) can call their hotline to alert fellow motorists of road conditions, traffic and gas availability: 713-362-7060

Staggered Return For Evacuees

Governor Rick Perry’s office has released a plan for a staggered return of evacuees. The return will start tomorrow and last three days.

From the press release:

Sunday: Residents may return to communities west of I-45 and north of I-10, including residents of Tomball, The Woodlands, Waller, Hockley, Katy, Brookshire and surrounding communities.

Monday: Residents may return to communities west of I-45 and south of I-10, including residents of Richmond, Stafford, Rosenberg, Sugarland, Pearland and surrounding communities, plus all Houston residents inside Loop I-610.

Tuesday: Residents may return to all remaining areas east of I-45 and north of I-10 up to the Liberty and Chamber county lines.

Whether or not people follow these guidlines is anybody’s guess. Hopefully people that can stay out of town for a while will do so in order to allow fuel, supplies, and repair crews to come in quickly.

Damage photos…

I have a gallery of damage photos that I took, this afternoon. Mostly it’s fences and tree parts… Also includes some images of my preparedness, and pre-Rita images.

Brave little birdie…

There’s a brave little birdie out in a tree in my front yard. Well, he’s either brave, or suicidal. The winds are still gusting to around 30mph, out here, although the sustained is probably only around five.

We (myself, my family, and indeed my neighborhood) weathered the storm, just fine. The only definitive damage was a squirrel nest in the live oak tree in my backyard. Poor squirrels. Assuming I can get out of my house (my family literally barred the doors, keeping my from going outside last night after the winds picked up. I just waited until they went to sleep and then stepped out on the front porch), I’ll be going out and taking photos of the surrounding area, here in NE Ft. Bend. Hopefully, I’ll be back later with images.

Grey, rainy and powerless (sometimes) in Conroe

I woke up early this morning and ran to the window like it was Christmas or something. Would I see any fallen trees? Would the shores of Lake Conroe (which lives literally directly across the street) be lapping at our doorstep? Would there be flying monkeys!!??

No, no and not yet. Like everyone has mentioned, our power has been flickering (ope

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