Hurricane Harbor

A writer and a tropical muse. A funky Lubavitcher who enjoys watching the weather, hurricanes, listening to music while enjoying life with a sense of humor and trying to make sense of it all!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ike.. A Storm As Big As Texas... Some thoughts.

This was an amazing storm. Not a storm on par with the Great 1900 Galveston Hurricane but one of the bigger ones we've seen in a while.

It may not have been a Category 5 but Ike was a storm as big as Texas. Except that Ike spared parts of Texas and took on a good part of Louisiana before moving north into Oklahoma and Arkansas where he is still spinning tonight as a Tropical Storm.

One of the largest storms to hit the Texas/Louisiana border in years and the damage is so widespread it is hard to follow it all.

The boat, by the way ... made it. Rode out the storm and the people survived. Galveston survived and though battered it will be rebuilt as time goes by.

Time is the big issue here. And, while the clean up goes on garbage piles high and it has to be hauled out and then they go through the Insurance Dance of adjusters and claims and eventually figuring out who to rebuild, etc.. etc.. etc it goes on for days, months.. over a year. I know.. Miami danced that dance after Wilma.

Damage out of Beaumont looks very much like the damage Miami had with trees down, power poles down and power out and homes damaged from trees falling on them, signs down and life is not normal. And, it won't be normal for a while.

In Cameron Bay way to the East of Galveston they are STILL having problems with flooding and when the wind shifted in Galveston and the water receded it did not recede in Cameron Bay.

Surfside Beach, Texas really got trashed. Well, first it got flooded and then it got trashed as the flotsam and jetsam floated around in wild surf and.. that's as plain as I can say it.

Personally... I'm annoyed with the overkill hype on this storm that was clearly NOT a Category 4 and Galveston is NOT Nola and they were never going to have the type of flooding and damage that Nola had because the levees failed.

Putting out official notices that "anyone staying on Galveston Island faces certain death" was hype on the level of William Randolph Hearst. I'm sorry but anyone staying on the island COULD face certain death but not everyone staying and the locals knew that. If TWC and CNN and others were leaving their news crews at the same hotel that the government employees were staying then it was obvious they were not expecting to face certain death. The news studios value their equipment and trucks way more than that and would never take such risks.

So people stayed. Some left. Some stayed. I am sure they all had their reasons. Those who left probably will not leave next time as fast and many who didn't leave will leave next time. So easy to second guess these things. And, yes those kids partying at the Poop Deck Bar are probably all alive and have one heck of a hangover though I doubt the Poop Deck survived but not sure.

They say God watches out for fools and drinks ... and I suppose during this storm he worked overtime.

One of the bigger stories during the storm was worrying over a man who refused to leave his home and decided to ride out the storm. I'm glad to tell you he is alive and well or as well as he can be considering his age and the amount of beer and chewing tobacco he seems to consume. He'll probably be an urban legend for those who feel that a good beer can get you through any natural disaster.

The one thing I will say for Ray Wilkenson is he didn't suggest anyone else do it he just said clearly he was doing it and in one of the best lines I've heard in a while "I didn't say I had all my marbles." Nope, he didn't but that is a man who knows himself well. Article below.

Ray Wilkinson, 67 who insisted on staying behind and riding out the storm in Surfside Beach, Texas is quoted as saying:

"I consider myself to be stupid," Wilkinson, 67, spat through a thick, tobacco-stained beard. "I'm just tired of running from these things. If it's going to get you, it's going to get you"

Those dealing with frustration on their inability to get back to their homes until the government tells them it is safe to return probably wish they stayed behind to look through their water logged photos, find family heirlooms and clean up before more damage from the elements set in. Not sure that it helps for local authorities to keep locals from going back and though I understand why they do it .. I also understand that it is one of the reasons people refuse to leave ... because it takes so long to get back in and as much as they hate evacuating they don't want to wait in long lines waiting to get back in to an area that is often safe enough for locals with valid IDs to be allowed back in.

For those who stayed.. loss of power and loss of water pressure is a problem. Bug spray and staying put and not wandering around is a priority. There are snakes in standing water and other debris that could cause more problems.

I remember after Andrew. People weren't allowed back on Miami Beach. My neighbor was allowed in because he had a press pass. There was no real danger, we walked around and took a drive. Talked to neighbors who stayed or who were smart enough to realize they could get around the blockade on the Julia Tuttle by driving over Sunny Isles Causeway and down Collins. Seems the police figured everyone would use the McArthur or the Venetian Causeway. Broad Causeway wasn't closed either when my father found his way back across it.

There is a fine line between protecting the public and government interfering with people's private needs to go home and sift through their valuables and make repairs. I can see both sides but I do feel the way they handle these events is part of the problem not part of the solution.

As for other areas besides Galveston...

This video shows downtown Houston. Damage much like Miami and Ft. Lauderdale witnessed in Wilma. Well not the flooding thankfully but the windows blown out in downtown buildings. We need to learn how to lessen the damage from Cat 2 Hurricanes as that is what this was and we never seem to learn and are always surprised by how bad it is as we expect damage like this to be from a stronger storm. We seem to underestimate the damage from a Category 2. Maybe in the future we won't.

The storm surge at Galveston was 13 and a half feet by the way..NOT 20 feet. Thankfully... the sea wall held and though a bit battered it did protect the island of Galveston.

Here are some articles and links.

Know that there has been substantial damage in downtown Houston and behind those blown out windows are offices and cubby holes that have been destroyed and re-decorated and much of the paperwork has been blown out or down onto the streets or simply blown away with the wind. This is a big hit for Houston and it will take a long time to put downtown Houston back together again.

My brother in Greece listened to storm coverage and told me that Neil Frank did an awesome job talking to people through the storm. I am sure he did.. he's always been one of the biggest hurricane heroes around. There is no one like him. Houston was lucky to have him. Miami's loss was their gain.

As for me.. I am going to sit and listen a bit while doing other things to local coverage via the wonderful Internet. (I'm watching the Fox channel right now, amazing coverage. Find the one you like and mute the others.)

Be well, stay safe and hoping everyone I am friends with made it through the storm safely.

Give thanks that as big and bad as Ike was that he was not a more powerful storm!
Size isn't everything, intensity is!

Good Night, Bobbi ;)


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