My City Stinks….

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Surely There Is Something Negative To Say About My Town
No one is saying it though.



Hurricane Ike In Pictures

Friday, September 19th, 2008

It is difficult to comprehend the devastation. Even seeing the aftermath, it is so overwhelming to take it all in. Boston.com has some pictures that might help you at least get a feel for it. Amazing, really.



Hurricane Ike: The Woodlands, Texas, Power Returning–Updated

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Just wanted to let readers know that power is returning to parts of The Woodlands and should be up most places there by Friday. Landlines for phone and DSL are still out and cellular service is still spotty. No reports of injuries or deaths, though. Please share your information here.

Other posts about Ike here:
Hurricane Ike, Woodlands, Texas Frustration Edition

Hurricane Ike: Woodlands Evacuee Edition

Live Blogging Hurricane Ike from The Woodlands, Texas

Also note, I’m blogging about other stuff too.

Updated:

People around the Houston area suffer worse. More here:

Residents again waited in line for hours Tuesday at the nearly two dozen supply distribution centers set up in Houston to hand out food, water and ice. Mayor Bill White complained the Federal Emergency Management Agency wasn’t bringing in the supplies fast enough, and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett had personally taken over coordination of efforts to hand out relief supplies.

A note about FEMA and relief supplies to the area. The government is not known for responsiveness, are they? Think DMV. So, relying on them for help seems misguided. That doesn’t excuse FEMA, though. The problem is the “assessment” stage. That takes a couple days. Well by Day 3 post storm, ice is a necessity to save the food a person does have.

I’m not going to say “I told you so”, but man. The problem isn’t often the storm. It’s the lack of power, water and communication after the storm. I could not understand why more people weren’t evacuated–especially those fragile and needing physical help. With families spread out, people are often alone and without support. Also, I know the elderly don’t like to leave home, but if family is offering help, it is wise to take up the offer and go.

UPDATED AGAIN:

I’ve been out of sorts being out of town and out of my schedule. Just noticed that Glenn Reynolds linked again. Thanks! He asks:

Why do hurricanes that hit Texas get so much less attention than hurricanes that hit New Orleans?

UPDATE: Another reader emails: ‘If you want to discuss lack of coverage, wasn’t the hurricane that hit New Orleans the same hurricane that nearly wiped the Mississippi gulf coast off the map?” Yes. Why did New Orleans get so much more attention? Is it because the media wanted to paint the Bush Administration as racially insensitive, or is New Orleans just the only place they could find on a map?

Well, there’s definitely that. New Orleans is an old liberal city. The left loves it because it’s the “most European” city in America. It has history and culture. It has jazz and gumbo. It also has crime and poverty and corruption. It has haves and have-nots. In short, it’s the perfect Leftist city.

In contrast, while Houston has millions more people. It has the oil business and nasty refineries. (It also has more shows than Broadway, but don’t tell liberals.) Basically, Houston just isn’t sexy. But it has jobs and a thriving economy. I guess that’s boring–a basically functional, working city.



Hurricane Ike: The Woodlands, Texas Frustration Edition–UPDATED

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Hi all. I write you from Hattisburg, Mississippi. We’re heading toward Florida to be with family there and maybe go to Disney World. We have unused passes and might be able to get free passes in any event, so we’ll make this hurricane a time to remember. Better than sitting around and sweating.

If you’re keeping up with the comments, there are some panicky messages. One thing I forgot to tell you people, mostly because I didn’t know then, but my husband told me (who heard it from some guy), is that FEMA was blocking cell and phone line transmissiom from The Woodlands in order to keep government lines open. I’ve tried to find solid information about this because it sounded like some conspiracy theory. However, my cellular service went dead at the same time as my landlines and both are AT&T. My husbands, which is Sprint, did not. In fact, one thing we’ve learned through this is that it’s good to have two types of service because at one time or another they’ve been on and off. They both went off at the same time on Sunday, but his came back around. Our own experience would seem to indicate that the FEMA rumor is not true.

IF FEMA does, in fact, dedicate all transmission lines to free them for emergency personnel and maintenance, etc., then there has got to be a better way to deal with things. Or another way must be found.

Only three things that really matter during the peak of a crisis:

1. Water–you need enough water to drink to survive. You can survive without food for a couple days if you have to.

2. Communications–you need to be able to get information. It is the water of life. If you can’t communicate with someone, you can’t tell them what you need and you can’t help someone in need. It is impossible, for example, for people who have information to share it with people in The Woodlands because they may have no way to receive it.

3. Fuel–People caught without fuel are in dire straits. If the crisis is bad enough, fleeing is the only sensible answer. Your mother’s antique china be damned.

So, a woman in the comments got her boyfriend a ticket out, but has no way to communicate to him and he has no way to get to the airport. I can assure you, people are getting very protective about the fuel they do have, at this point. Gas stations need power to pump gas out, so if they don’t have power, they can’t sell gas. See the problem? So, in The Woodlands, there might even be gas, but it’s going to be stuck underground until the stations get generators.

In anticipation of the storm, HEB brought in massive generators before it hit. This was a risk, of course, because the storm could have destroyed the generator. Turns out, it was a good risk. Mind you, though, if a person doesn’t have enough gas to get to the store, it doesn’t matter. And HEB didn’t have ice when I went. And at that point, I didn’t need food as I had plenty. I needed ice.

This brings me back around to communications. You know a good way to freak people out? Cut off communication, they have no ability to find out where to find resources. So, by rumor mill, I heard that there was ice at the Shenendoah municipal building, but that had changed to The Woodlands High School football stadium. Guess what? That’s wasting a hell of a lot of gas on a rumor that may or may not be true, and what if there is no ice once making the trek there? Communication is essential.

Last night, we made the decision to leave. Our neighbors, who we’ve had intermittent contact with (again undermining the FEMA rumor, but I’ve look for the facts on this) are staying. By all accounts, things are safe and sound, but people are staying to protect property, essentially. Without food and water, though, this proposition gets wearisome, if not impossible.

Part of it, at this point, is no routine has been established. People are ever hopeful that the power will be on quickly. It would be good if people knew if there was going to be a set time–three weeks.

It also seems to me that a 50’s era community nuclear fallout plan should be in place. Remember when schools and communities had the sirens and the running into the basement? Well, disasters can happen. Obviously, they do happen. Shouldn’t every neighborhood, every village, every community have a set plan in place? And I don’t think it should be a FEMA run deal. Because of the damage assessments that they and the power companies do, people are ON THEIR OWN for at least three days, I’d say closer to a week, really. And really, who wants their life to be in the hand of the government except when we’re at war or something? So, communities need plans–to gather information, share resources and not duplicate efforts. How many people in my neighborhood wasted gas by driving all over looking for, ironically, gas? I’d bet lots of people.

So, from what I hear, this is how things are: food and water are running low unless someone is very well provisioned, gas is still scarce, ice is difficult to come by, and people are just staying to protect hearth and home and doing so without clean water, land lines, and electricity. Neighborhoods are coming together. Neighbors are looking out for each other.

Entergy–Energy status for The Woodlands

Food/ice/water–It looks like Magnolia and Tomball are more up and running. Chik-Fil-A in Magnolia folks. Hey, it’s something.

Also this: Fellowship of The Woodlands will have MRE’s and Ice.

Huntsville seemed to be “open”. So if someone wants to make a drive for food, it might be worth it. Of course, beware of fuel usage.

More at KHOU.

On the way out of Texas, we saw huge convoys of Army guys, electric company trucks, etc. Resources are coming, but where are they going? Galveston was pretty nearly devastated. So, I’m guessing resources go there first. I don’t know.

FEMA’s phone number: 1-800-621-3362 If they’re like any other gov’t entity, knock early, knock often. And be prepared to wait in line and fill out lots of paperwork.

Montgomery County damage reports here (by residents).

Houston Chronicle here. Judging by their coverage, it’s all Galveston all the time. It’s a mess down there. Many people, including a blog friend’s (Robbie Cooper of UrbanGrounds) brother and in laws lost homes. We met a lady at the hotel who had “nothing to go home to”. What a horrible thing to contemplate.

I won’t be some place permanent until tomorrow night. In the meantime, keep checking my tweets.

UPDATED:

Power restored throughout parts of The Woodlands. My neighborhood came on line tonight. Got a call from my lovely next door neighbor.



Hurricane Ike: The Woodlands Evacuee Edition

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Hi all, I regret to tell you that I am not in The Woodlands right now, so I cannot go and check on your friends and relatives. I’m hoping that other people who read my blog and have a generator in The Woodlands will comment on their neighborhoods. I will take comments out of moderation, so people can write back and forth and share what they know. I will be on the road for the day and can update about my situation and will talk to friends and neighbors back home and update you that way. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

A word about why we left: Certain gas stations and the HEBs around town were getting food and gas, but the lines were long and not indicative of how they would get as people (including my family) ran out of food. We would have been fine for about a week, but we would need ice for perishables. As it is, we’ve lost a side of beef and the contents of our fridge. We gave away what we could to neighbors. It’s a shame to have it go to waste, but neighbors don’t have power or ice either.

Conroe Independent School District has a policy of only giving two-day cancellation notices. This is wholly irresponsible. I actually talked to people who were concerned about that and waiting to decide what to do. This is, of course, illogical. Without power, the schools won’t be going either. People should be making decisions, at this point, that will help them survive. Education is not even a third order priority at this point.

The difficult part of the decision to leave is that much of Houston, ironically, does have power. So, people are worried about being expected to work. But without power which means no air conditioning, and more importantly at a certain point, no washer and dryer, there is no way to stay sanitary. Also, this makes me think of trash and waste removal. Our garbage can was full when we left. I can’t imagine that we were the only ones in that situation.

My neighbors worry about leaving because of looting. That is a real concern considering that Houston does have power and so, the people in the outlying areas like the Woodlands are literally sitting ducks. Crime is not a problem in The Woodlands. Well, not a huge one. This is, however, Texas, and nearly everyone is armed, so there’s that.

Businesses, banks, medical buildings, imagine every small business you can think of, are without power. So a person might have food, but no work. The population of The Woodlands and Conroe area is very dense and I have to tell you that driving out of there yesterday, going up I-45 and not seeing one light until we reached Huntsville was bizarre.

From commenters reports and those of friends and family, The Woodlands area hasn’t been mentioned on the national news. That is unsurprising to me. I remember the Katrina coverage and it was like New Orleans was the city where Christ Himself was returning, probably to the roof of the Superdome. Galveston is the big news now. And it is big news, the area and surrounding areas are a catastrophe. Up here in The Woodlands, the loss is less severe in terms of homes and flooding. But there is still loss and significant loss. And the difficulty will be chronic and build as people run out of food and fuel and sit in their baking homes.

This picture sounds bleak, I suppose. Besides a boy dying after a tree fell on him, I have not heard of any loss of life in The Woodlands area. People are helping one another. Things are being cleaned up. Houses repaired. It could be worse. There are trees through peoples homes all over. And I imagine that with the attention the rest of the city is getting, The Woodlands residents will be a low priority. I don’t know.

Please feel free to exchange information here. Truly, I wish I could check on your family members. Thank you all for your well wishes.

Oh! When we left yesterday, we had no phone service from land lines, no power, and cell service was spotty. So, just because you don’t hear from family and friends doesn’t mean something is wrong. If they were like me, they took their frustration out on tree limbs in the yard yesterday. Everyone is okay, they just seem to be waiting to decide what to do.