Rita Update- Saturday 9:45 a.m.


The wind blew very, very hard all night. We lost our biggest and most productive banana tree and a few smaller tree limbs, but otherwise everything is in tact. The hurricane has moved up to east Texas. We are still getting a lot of wind, but nothing like we had overnight. We had very little rain. Other than a few spikes, we never lost electricity.

Gas is going to be a problem for a while, so it will take some time for things to get back to normal. It will also take time for the million or so people who evacuated to get back home.

We’ll have some limbs to clean up, but as I have said so many times, we were very lucky.

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Rita Update- Saturday 12:10 a.m.

We are now within the outer bands of Hurricane Rita, though again we seem to have been spared the worst of it.

The wind is blowing very hard, at least by non-hurricane standards. It’s raining, but not all that hard. The eye of the hurricane has not reached the coastline, however, and the question now seems to be how fast and where the hurricane will begin to slow down after it reaches landfall.

As the eye reaches the coast we expect a lot more rain. So far our power has stayed on, but I have noticed a lot of spikes (4 since I started writing this post). That is a bad sign as far as keeping electricity goes, but maybe we’ll get lucky again.

I sound like a broken record, but we are so much better off than what we expected, and I am very thankful for that. I was extremely nervous when Raina and the girls couldn’t get to Fort Worth yesterday and came home. If someone had told me yesterday morning that we’d have only moderate rain and electricity right now, I would have laughed.

I am going to sit up for another hour or so, and then I’ll try to get some sleep. My prayers tonight will be prayers of thanks for our good fortune so far and prayers of concern for the people in the direct path of this storm.

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Rita Update- Friday 8:00 p.m.

It has started to rain, although not hard (yet). The wind comes in gusts, but nothing like we were expecting (so far). I don’t want to jinx us, but it seems like we may be spared the horrible storm we were expecting. I’m not ready to relax yet, but it is starting to feel a little better

The news indicates that the hurricane continues to move eastward towards Lousiana. In fact the weatherman on channel 13 just said that it’s possible the entire eye of the hurricane may land east of the Louisiana line. This is the same guy who usually tries to scare us to death, so if he’s saying that, it must be true.

We’re still expecting a severe storm, but with every passing hour, we become more hopeful that this will not be as bad as we expected.

Now, my take on the media and its “scare tactics.” First of all, most people will only hear the good news in a mixed news story. As a result, the media and the government leaders probably have to turn up the scare volume in order to get the message across. Having said that, I felt yesterday and last night that some of the newscasters and writers were going a bit overboard in their analysis.

In particular, I thought Eric Berger, who writes a blog for the Houston Chronicle that I generally enjoy, was at times a little over the top. Take this post, for example:

“Unless the storm turns south or north in the next 24 to 48 hours we are set up for a truly horrific event. I am not going to sugar-coast this, my friends. If the storm comes ashore as forecast, it would essentially be the worst-case scenario described here.”

Again, he has to tell it like he sees it, and as a blogger he has greater latitude to express his feelings and personal perspective (that’s what makes blogs an improved method of news delivery), but as someone who, at the time, was at home alone preparing to ride out a category 5 direct hit, I didn’t need any help being nervous.

Some folks are already being critical of the media, and I think a lot of the criticism is logically sound. But here’s my thing:

(a) There are never enough rules and models to plan for this sort of thing.

(b) As mentioned above, people need to be told very bad news to hear moderately bad news.

(c) People were, in general, doing the best they could. I especially thought Mayor White did a good job.

(d) In hindsight, everyone should have seen the evacuation traffic and gas problems as 100% inevitable. All of those people have to get back home via those same roads, so let’s not stop thinking about traffic and gas for a while.

(e) We have a culture of fear in this country that is propagated mainly by the media because the media believes, rightly or wrongly, that scary things bring higher ratings. Watch any newscast, even when there’s not a hurricane coming, and note how many scary stories there are. I believe this is a major problem in our country, but it has nothing to do with hurricanes.

We have been very lucky so far. That’s what matters the most, and we are thankful.

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Rita Update – Friday Afternoon


Another deceptively pretty day (so far), but the clouds are starting to build and it’s getting windy.

Raina and the girls came back home, thinking that our house with supplies is better than a sofa in someone else’s house a mere 20 or so miles away. The other family that was travelling with Raina came back home too, and we will ride this thing out together. Even if the women and children wanted to try to leave today, the road and gas situation makes that impossible.

The nursing home where the bus that burned up originated is about a mile and a half from our house. My kids sing Christmas carols there every December. When I was walking back home after taking Raina’s car to higher ground I heard one of my neighbors telling her neighbor that someone they both knew was on the “survivor list.” As soon as the hurricane passes, the entire town of Bellaire will mourn for the people on that bus.

The news indicates that the hurricane appears to be headed for landfall east of here, which is much better for us (though obviously not for the folks over there) than here or west of here. All of that could change, but we hope now to be spared from the worst of this storm. My constant prayer is all of the evacuations and preparation will greatly reduce the damage about to be caused by this storm.

Tomorrow this time, we’ll know one way or the other.

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Rita Update


Here’s the latest. A deceptively beautiful day today.

Raina and the girls gave up trying to get to Fort Worth. Can’t get there from here. They left at 6:00 a.m. and made about 15 miles in 6 hours. The group which includes all non-daddy members of another family diverted to a relative’s house in Spring. That’s not very far from here, but at least it’s in the right direction.

Home Depot was surreal this morning. The line for plywood (in the parking lot) was as least an eighth of a mile long. People were calm, but serious. The Home Depot employees deserve medals for being there and being so calm, efficient and friendly. Inside, there was stuff on the shelves, but no flashlights and no regular batteries. I picked up two rechargeable 18 volt batteries for my cordless flashlights and a car charger, that will let me charge those two and my three others in my truck.

Lucky Dog and I are set as far as food and water goes. I have moved the pool and yard stuff inside and I have taped some of the bigger windows. At least 3 of my neighbors are riding it out in their homes, so we can help each other as needed.

Now comes the weird part. Having done most of what I can do to get ready, I have more than 24 hours to finish a few things and chill. The news is far too scary to watch and I’ve just about done everything I can do from here work-wise (I’m not certain my blackberry is receiving my work email, so if I haven’t responded to you, that may be why), so I think I’m going to watch my latest Netflix delivery. I’m not sure what it is, but I’ll post a 20 second movie review later.

It’s eerie here, but it’s only beginning.

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Waiting for Rita

The press is doing its usual “scare tactics” routine, which makes it hard to know what the real story is about Rita and the likely effect on Houston. It’s a big one for sure and there may be serious wind and water. My girls have evacuated to Gigi and Papa’s house, but I’m here for the ride.

Tomorrow, I’ll move all of our pool and deck furniture into the garage, get some supplies ready and wait. There have been other hurricanes and tropical storms in the 20 years I’ve lived here, but this one seems to be the biggest and baddest yet.

My sense is that there will be a lot of rain and a lot of wind, and probably some fallen trees. If we get that or less, I’ll be glad I stayed behind to manage and begin repairing any damage. If we get more than that, I may be sorry I stayed. Time will tell.

I intend to post updates here as long as I have power, and maybe even a photo or two. Hurricanes are just part of the deal when you live here. It’s time to dig in and wait.

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Blogging Katrina

Hurricane Katrina (Wikipedia just keeps getting more and more integral to my information needs) is one scary storm. Two families that we are close to have relatives in New Orleans. Both families have houses full of refugees.

Here’s a Google Maps hack that shows its location. When the photo loads, click on “Hybrid” in the upper right hand corner for the best view.

Here are some blogs from people in the affected areas:

Hattie’s Blog: Hattiesburg, MS
Mark Kraft: Not local, but good collection of info.
Zelda Kitty: New Orleans
Bobbysan: New Orleans

If you know of others, please add them to the Comments and I’ll put a link here.

Updates from the Comments:

Flickr Photos
Support New Orleans
Blog from Baton Rouge

Monday Update:

Lots of good stuff on this blog.

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