Rita Cleanup

Our house has three trashcans and ten garbage bags full of stuff out at the curb. We probably have as much again in the backyard, but after an hour I need another shower and have cuts on my legs and arms.

Our doggie fence lost part of one piece.

The yard is better but not finished.

Are the Saudis our Friends?

Apparently not, despite those sweetly worded radio commercials.

“Oh Allah, liberate our Al-Aqsa Mosque from the defilement of the occupying and brutal Zionists….Oh Allah, punish the occupying Zionists and their supporters from among the corrupt infidels.” According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, Sheikh Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayyis preached that in a sermon in Mecca on July 15 – of 2005, not 2001. He also railed against American pop culture, which he termed “the terrible deluge of all manner of vice, which is considered a form of moral terrorism against the values, ideals, and virtues of the Islamic nation.” His sermon was carried on Saudi Arabia’s Channel 1.

Nor did Saudi TV, which is strictly controlled by the government, limit itself to prayers for punishment of the Israelis and Americans. On August 29 Saudi Iqra TV aired a program calling on Saudis to donate money to support the Palestinian jihad. “As the Prophet Muhammad said, Jihad is the pinnacle of Islam,” the program’s organizer reminded viewers. “A person who cannot wage Jihad with his soul is required to wage Jihad with his money, with his tongue, with his thought, and with any means at his disposal. There is no doubt that our brothers in Palestine desperately need financial support, which goes directly to this cause, and helps them to carry out this mission.”

On the same show, Sheikh Abdallah Basfar, secretary-general of the Muslim World League Koran Memorization Commission (a Saudi government agency) added: “All the funds sent via known charities and organizations reach your Muslim brothers, Allah be praised. Undoubtedly, this aid is obligatory and not just recommended. This is the duty of every Muslim, based on the scholars’ religious ruling that supporting our brothers in Palestine is obligatory. Therefore, material support is a duty.” Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), who introduced the latest Saudi Arabia Accountability Act into the Senate, noted in support of the Act of 2003 that the Saudis “are reported to have contributed as much as $4 billion to Hamas over the course of the latest intifada.” Could some of that money have gone to finance Hamas’ suicide attacks against innocent civilians in buses and restaurants? Is it still going to finance Hamas’ terrorist activities? Nor is the Palestinian jihad the only ones the Saudis support. NBC’s Lisa Myers reported last summer: “An NBC News analysis of hundreds of foreign fighters who died in Iraq over the last two years reveals that a majority came from the same country as most of the 9/11 hijackers — Saudi Arabia. Among the suicide bombers was Ahmed al-Ghamdi, a one-time medical student and son of a Saudi diplomat. In December 2004, he climbed into a truck in Mosul and blew himself up. On an Internet video, another Saudi says goodbye to his mother, then drives an ambulance full of explosives into a building.” What motivated these people to go to Iraq? Unmistakably, it was the jihad ideology that, now over four years after 9/11, continues to be taught all over Saudi Arabia — while political correctness and fear prevent the State Department from identifying it as any problem, actual or potential.

Says Spencer at Jihad Watch.

If you want to know what is happening with terrorism in the world, that’s the website to view. It’s updated daily and filled with things you’d never hear about on our news.

Gun Seizures

Gun seizures aren’t just in New Orleans.

“Virginia Commonwealth University Police have become proactive and aggressive in seizing weapons.”

“We’ve really targeted the guns,” VCU Police Sgt. Chris Preuss says. And on nights when they scour city streets for them, he says, police pick up “generally one to two every night.” Most of the guns have been confiscated on the periphery of campus, in the 800 and 900 blocks of Broad, Grace and Harrison streets, says VCU Police Chief Willie Fuller. The initiative started earlier this year, Fuller says, when officers scouring the area at night noticed more and more guns in vehicles, that apparently belonged to local club patrons. None of those arrested have been VCU students.

Meanwhile, VCU Police have seized 30 guns of various makes and models over six months, ranging from Ruger 40-calibers to Glock 357s to AK-47s, says Sgt. Preuss. He carries a folder with pictures of confiscated weapons that he’ll give to federal officials in the U.S. Attorney’s office.

via Ravenwood

Evacuation Attitude

I have seen several posts, and heard several callers to radio talk shows, say that people shouldn’t have left or they wish they hadn’t left. I don’t get that.

We left and we spent 21 hours making a 9 hour drive. I don’t regret that. If a Cat 5, which it was, had hit Houston straight on, which it was expected to do, my home might have made it. But it might not have too. We prepared with food, water, tarps, flashlights, batteries, etc. But when we had the chance to get out, we took it.

I am not sorry. I am glad we left. We took our “four day weekend,” which turned into a five day weekend for my husband and a six day weekend for me, and went to my in-laws’. We got to see them. They got to see us. Everyone knew we were safe, so no one worried.

Yes, we had to pack a lot in the car and unpack a lot when we got home. But that is NOTHING compared to what we might have had to go through if we had stayed.

I know it didn’t come here. I get what people are saying about the hype. But I am leaving, if I can, the next time a Category 5 is expected to hit Houston. Because next time it might not miss.

(For those of you who are worrying, I instructed my MIL not to pray for hurricanes just so she could see us more often.)

This blog entry came about because I read Euphoric Reality’s wonderful post. I totally agree with her about needing sources besides the news, who are always going to be going for the worst, and about being responsible for our own actions. If you wait for the government, it may be too late.

Things to Take if You Evacuate

Obviously you need your guns, your important papers, your family, and any small heirlooms you can get in your car. You need cash. Since the NY blackout we have kept about $40 in emergency $1 bills in a box. We took that with us. As well as the $100 we got at the bank on Tuesday.

One thing we did, in addition to those things, was take a grocery sack of food (peanut butter, bread, bagels and a knife), another of fruit (apples and kiwis), some bananas, and four Gatorades. We stocked the house with water but when we decided to leave we did not take water with us. That was a bad plan.

We had plenty to eat for a 1o hour trip. But not for a 21 hour trip. Some people died because of the heat in their cars on the highway. So an ice chest with water in it seems like a necessity now.

Another important thing we did not have: a map of our section of the state. Texas is huge. But the maps of Texas are the same size as the maps of Lousiana or Arkansas or Oklahoma. So lots of roads that show up on a smaller state’s maps don’t show up on Texas. We are looking to purchase an east Texas map. We want to be able to take more of the farm roads. If we knew where they went, we could have.

When you need to evacuate it’s too late to start looking for maps. Prepare.

Also, if you are taking a dog or cat and your allergies aren’t generally effected, you might want to take Benadryl. After 2o hours in the car with the dog, including her sitting on my lap to sleep, I needed Benadryl.

Something else I had, because they are always in the car, but which were necessary, are sunglasses. It’s bright here.

Also in the car, a medical kit, first aid type things.

Returning after Rita

Our usual 9 hour trip only took 11 on the trip home today. We did have to go around Lufkin and Livingston, which had dead stop traffic, but overall we sailed down.

We got gas in Oklahoma, which was a good thing, because all the gas from the border to Porter was either gone or had 40 cars in each direction waiting for gas.

Here at home we had turned off the a/c, so we unloaded the car, turned on the a/c, and went out to dinner. Apparently some people here still don’t have power because there were folks who had no a/c that they could turn on in the restaurant.

Lots of Polk County was without electricity. (Two counties north.) And, I’ve been told, Liberty County is out too. (One county to the east.) So we were very blessed to only be without two days. And thankfully we weren’t here.

We are glad to be home.

You can tell folks were home this weekend, because most yards have seven to ten trashbags full of debris already on the driveway waiting for the garbage man tomorrow.

We’ve had one day of mail since Wed. I don’t know what day it was, but I’m guessing it was today.

We saw lots of downed trees, but the highway folks had gotten out and cut them off the roads by the time we came through. The tree cutting trucks were out in force.

One highway we came down had a tree down on the wires for every three telephone poles. I’m surprised they didn’t make the whole thing collapse.

I’m glad Rita wasn’t a Cat 5 when she hit and, though it seems wrong, I’m glad she didn’t hit Houston-Galveston full strength. We got no rain here, but enough wind to take out some trees. In our yard it was only a large pine branch.

Rita Vacation

The government shut down our classes on Thursday and Friday, so we had no classes. Which means I didn’t have to teach. Then the government asked that our area not come home till Tuesday. School reopens Wednesday. I have class on Thursday.

I don’t really want to stay in Arkansas that long. I’m usually here two days and I’m ready to go home. We’ll see. Maybe we can go to Dallas for an evening and a day.

We evacuated

And one thing I am concerned about is that, having gone through that gridlock, people won’t evacuate next time.

I hope that a Category-5 will encourage them to leave, but my parents and my sister’s family didn’t leave this time- with it expected to hit us directly.

So I guess folks who will leave, will leave.

Why We Evacuated: Rita

We aren’t really expecting to get smashed by the hurricane. Strong winds could knock our trees over and we have lots of trees in our subdivision. Strong rain could cause our subdivision to flood, especially if the rain up north of us is fierce, because it drains to us. And, of course, if the hurricane just zipped through Galveston and Houston our house would be destroyed.

But really we left because it could be bad and we didn’t want to be there if it were. In addition, we had four days off- in a row! So we came to visit my in-laws. Even if no rain and no winds reach our house, we will have had a good visit. (Though the 21 hours to go 510 miles was a bit much.)

I’m hoping Rita stays in the Gulf and winds down. She seems to be losing force there.

An email from Iraq

Our prayers are with you and all of Texas as you brace for Rita. Please be safe and take what ever precautions are necessary.

This from a Marine in Iraq.

I sure did appreciate him taking time out. His wife was hit with Ophelia recently. I guess hurricanes are on his mind.

The Roads in Houston

R’s best friend called this morning and said the roads are all clear.

Another friend called and said the roads were still full all day yesterday and early this morning.

At 3 pm my dad said the authorities have said not to leave now. There’s no gas and there’s no one to help if you have a problem. So my folks aren’t leaving. Although they had intended to leave today.

My dad said absolutely no one is out on the roads.

According to Euphoric Reality, we were smart and lucky to get off 59 into Lufkin. Her folks are still stuck in the traffic there.

Nice Folks

As we were going on 254 to 69 we stopped. I had the dog in my lap and the window open and a wasp blew in on my lap. So I smothered it in the pillow and we pulled over on to the side of the road.

I had a boy hop out, clip the dog, and pull her out of the way.

Then I got out with the pillowed wasp and flung it open far away from me. (It was still alive, so that was a good choice.)

Then we were getting back in the car. A guy started yelling at us from his house, set way back from the road, and I hollered back. “We were just throwing a wasp out. We’re going now.”

He got closer, and I heard him say, “Water your dog.” I took the dog’s leash and went toward him.

He was coming as fast as he could, loping across a yard most people would call a field, with his black, gray, and blue spotted dog, whose name was Crackles.

“You want to water your dog?” he asked again when we were closer to each other.

And we did. We had nothing in the car from which the dog could drink. I had poured water into my hand and let her drink from that. But we hadn’t realized how long we’d be on the road. We were hoping to have been in Arkansas by morning on Thursday. So we didn’t even think of bringing a bowl.

The gentleman filled up a pan with water. Serenity drank some of it but mostly she wanted to play with Crackles. R was coming across the yard by that time. He introduced himself.

Then his wife came out. She was carrying a locked tupperware dish. “Here’s water for your puppy. You can take this with you.”

The dogs played for a small bit. We told them we were from Houston. They told us they were putting up in case the hurricane rains and wind hit there. And then it was time for us to go.

They told us to be safe. They told us they’d be praying for us. We thanked them and told them the same thing.

Thank you, God, for folks like that. Keep them safe and bless them for the “cold cup of water in your name.”

Evacuating

21 hours after leaving our home, maybe a few minutes more, we had succeeded in reaching our destination- 9 hours from our house. At least, it is normally nine hours from home.

We have always known there might be a danger of evacuation and every time we have moved we have looked for an alternate route. We took one early Thursday morning. It wasn’t our normal route and, somehow, we got turned around. We spent four hours going 45 miles, and that 45 miles would have been 17 if we had left on our normal route.

We traveled on 146 for 4 hours and went 45 miles.

Then we went on 59 for 100+ miles. That took 5 hours.

Then we went meandering down smaller roads. We found gas without problem, although we did have to wait in line behind six other cars.

Then we got on a small road and went over to 69. We had been told by someone in the small town that 69 was as bad as 59. But they were wrong. We were inching along on 59 and we were going 70 on 69. But we were only going a few miles up the road. (And we did know that as of 7 am the mandatory evacuation of Beaumont was coming out on 69, but it wasn’t up north yet.)

We stayed on that for a while, then we went 255 to 96, which turned into 59 again, but had no traffic. When we got to Marshall there were hundreds of people evacuating, both from New Orleans and from Houston. It was the fork in the road where both groups hit. But even so, though the Wendy’s had 100 people ordering while we were in line, the traffic wasn’t bad.

Then we went to 71. It’s a small windy road and we decided to take it, rather than go through Oklahoma, because it was close and because we had already heard the every hotel in Oklahoma City and Tulsa was reserved by folks coming in from Houston. We didn’t want more of that traffic.

Then we got to Ft. Smith. There no one assumed we were from Houston. No one even noticed.

It was another hour north to the in-laws. By that time we were so tired, and I was sneezing so much from the dog being in the car with me, that we missed our turn. We caught the second one, though, and went through a town that has NOLA evacuees from Katrina, but not much from Rita. At least not yet. (The paper says they will help if Texas needs it.)

We got here and unloaded the boys and the car. We kissed my MIL, my FIL was at a poker game, and went to WalMart. We needed a crate for the dog and hadn’t brought one because we didn’t have room.

I took 2 Benadryl and 1 3-gm melatonin and went to bed. For 13 hours.

Rita: Voice of Reason

I came home from church tonight thinking about staying. The W’s are staying. And they were here during Alicia. The C’s are staying. (Though the wife said we were wise to leave.– Maybe it’s the guys who are insisting on staying.) So I’m thinking… maybe we should stay.

But then again part of the reason I wanted to leave is we have a four day weekend. How often does that happen? Never. So let’s go somewhere and party.

But that costs money. So once again I am thinking we need to stay. (Plus, we just spent $350 getting ready to stay. In that case, the money we would have spent to go is gone.)

Then I get home from church and get on the net. Then I see this:

For you Texans that live within 50 miles of the coast (maybe more… 50 miles was a SWAG), but are NOT considered coastal, here’s the deal. If it’s a strong 4 or 5 and you have decided not to evac… look up pictures of Ivan or Andrew and that’s what you’re facing folks. You are damn close to being too late to prepare if you have not. Gas, propane, water, food, cash, batteries, flashlights… a safe place to hunker down… get ready folks…

Now… for you Texans who live in-land, but live in the path. This is for you. If you think because you live 100 – 200 miles away from the coast you are safe… allow me to awaken you from your little cozy dream world. Living that far out, you may not lose your roof, but rest assured, your life has the potential to be miserable.

How far do you think Orlando is from where Hurricane Charley made landfall. Over 100 miles folks and Rita makes Charley look like a toddler.

Boudicca’s Voice gives us a totally different perspective from Bogus Gold and one, if you couldn’t tell already, I am more in agreement with. Her arguments make sense.

And hey, if nothing happens, we’ve had a four day weekend away.

Prepare the House

Turn off brakers. This will protect your house from water problems in your electric service and from power surges.
This was from the electric company, but it seems to me that then you’ve accelerated the heating of your house and the spoilage of your food. However, it is also recommended just before the storm by the insurance companies. (So if we were home, I guess we might do that.)

Turn off gas ONLY at appliances. (You don’t have to, they say.)

Close up all doors outside.

Put away anything lose in the backyard: patio furniture, plants, dog houses, lamps, feeding bowls, etc.

Remove furniture from near windows. (In case they break and it rains in.)

Move books off the bottom shelf of your bookshelves on the lower floor of the house.

My aunt and uncle moved all their furniture from downstairs to the upstairs, and then realized the hurricane could take off the roof. (So just leave furniture where it is unless otherwise noted.)

Cut tree branches that could hit windows.

Cover windows with plywood. (We are FAR from the coast. Some people are doing this. Most are not.) Tape windows. (This keeps them from shattering and exploding in on you.)

Turn refrigerators and freezers to coldest settings. Open as seldom as possible.

Prepare for Rita

We got food.

We got water.

We got tarps and duct tape.

We got batteries and lights that run on batteries.

We bought a new gun. (To supplement the Walther hand gun we had.)

We bought more ammunition.

We bought dog food, too.

We’ve been told to turn off the brakers to the house, in case of water. So you turn off the electricity before the electricity needs to be turned off.

And now we’re planning to leave. Neighbors are planning to stay. Maybe I should give them a key.