H-36: This is Going to Hurt
We're at H-36.
Evacuations are still underway. As of 1630CST, most of the hospitals in the strike zone were almost complete with their evacuations. This has filled up many of the hospitals in the reception zone so we're having to make some adjustments.
The feds are staging assets into Texas including urban search and rescue and swift water rescue teams. The USS Iwo Jima is moving into place to be ready with airlift and other military responses. FEMA is moving in a large mobile hospital to take the strain of area hospitals.
From their website:
"Update on Hurricane Rita and ACL Just like you, we are keeping a very close watch on the weather and are being advised by meteorologists. We do expect some rain on Saturday, so be sure to bring an umbrella and wear your rain gear.We're expecting Tropical Storm gusts in Austin on Saturday. If Rita, shifts it could get worse. I think an outdoor festival with thousands of people outside while a CAT5 tears up the coast might be a bad idea at this point.
If weather conditions appear to present any kind of danger to fans, musicians or crew, we are prepared to make the necessary adjustments to maintain safety. Until then, the Festival is on, rain or shine. Look here for updates."
Churches are often big players in this. People are often sheltered through informal church connections. Baptists move themselves to the generous Baptist church a couple counties down the road. The problem is that the church down the road might not actually be a suitable shelter. Can it withstand the winds? Back-up power? Adequate sanitation? Medical assistance? Plus, if you open a shelter that is not part of the system, then you can't get reimbursed for your expenses. Meanwhile, space is available at pre-planned shelters that have all the necessary life support systems in place.
Spontaneous shelters are not a good idea. If you want to help, call the Red Cross or some other group. Trust me, they'll put you to work.
The Industrialized Texas Coast near Freeport, South of Houston
Analysis: This is a bad storm, but its going to be different from Katrina. Geography is working in our favor. The closest city that Texas has to New Orleans is Galveston, which, given its history, takes hurricanes very seriously. The mayor of Galveston leaned forward in the foxhole and started getting people out early. It Rita swings north and hits there, it won't be as bad as NOLA.
And even if Houston takes a direct hit, there is not the same type of levee situation as in NOLA. Tropical Storm Allison created an epic flood in Houston. Lots of damage, but few deaths.
Tonight will be key. I'm off shift right now so I'll have to wait until morning to see how it goes. No plan survives contact with the enemy, and we've had some problems. These are getting sorted out tonight. The key is to get people out by H-12.
On a personal note, Case de Alexander will be its own little spontaneous shelter. The in-laws are shagging ass out of Houston as I type. Our little 1200 sq ft. house will host four of the Seymour clan plus me, Julie, and Zane.
I'm a little concerned about the winds and loosing power with a five month old baby so I went to price generators. There is not a generator to be had in Austin. They've all been shipped to Katrina so I loaded up on flashlights and batteries. I even bought a little flashlight for my niece so she's comfortable. She's seen enough Katrina news to be scared. I probably won't need the generator, but it would have been a fun new toy. If all else fails, Julie and the baby can hang out in my office. We've got lots of generator power, and there are twenty cases of diet coke stacked in the hall. We're ready for anything.
I also filled up my truck tonight. There were also a lot of people getting gas. I talked with a couple folks as I filled up the Bronco. Everyone is worried about shortages and big oil price gouging...er...I mean storm related price fluctuations.
Coverage Notes: KRISTV, Channel 6 in Corpus Christi has some good info.
And the Texas Division of Emergency Management's SITREP page always has good info.