Rita: Phone Service

Service was commonly intermittent when we moved to this area five years ago. The area was growing faster than the phone service.

Right now, it’s like that again. Six dial outs to get one call through. You can call someone and talk then not be able to reach anyone for 15 minutes.

Rita Traffic: I-45

In Montgomery County on ramps onto I-45 will be closed to facilitate the movement of the traffic on I-45 north.

Note: Traffic is doubling the expected time, once you are out of Houston, to reach Dallas. So an 8 hour drive to Dallas.

Rita Traffic: HOV lanes

On Thursday all HOV lanes will become northbound only. So you won’t be able to use the HOV to get into downtown Houston from here, but you will be able to go faster coming out. (Potentially anyway.)

KHOU

Rita Landfall

Tides Online has a good picture of where and when Rita is expected to make landfall.

It is about halfway between Galveston and Port Lavaca.

But that’s Friday evening/Saturday morning so we might not need to leave so soon. But then, again, I don’t want to cut it too close. We don’t want to be those people who had two cars and a house and now have only the clothes on our backs.

Rita Traffic

Right now KHOU is saying that traffic from Galveston to Conroe will take about eight hours. That’s 89 miles and usual travel time is 1 hour and 38 minutes. It’s taking four times as long right now. And it isn’t even mandatory evacuation yet.

East of the Hurricane?

The National Hurricane Center’s official forecast continues to name Matagorda Bay as Rita’s most likely landfall target Friday night or Saturday morning, leaving Galveston and the Houston area vulnerable to a storm surge, dangerous winds, heavy rain and possibly tornadoes.

So says the Houston Chronicle at 3:58 pm today.

Why is that a big deal?

Well, according to a meterologist on 740 AM those who are to the east of the hurricane will be hit with winds that are 15 mph higher than those of the hurricane itself. Since right now Rita is clocked at 160, that means that we’d be getting 175 mph winds.

With that we’ll have a mess. Look for a clean sweep of the beaches and coastal areas. Look for surge areas to be submerged and pretty much totally gone. Look for flooding throughout Houston. Although we’re not below sea level, we were a bayou and we are laced with hundreds of rivers and creeks. Those beds will overflow their boundaries rapidly. Look for matchsticks that used to be houses and trees in other areas, such as where I live. And that’s not even considering the tornados we might be getting beforehand.

If Rita hits anywhere close to us as a Cat 5 we’ll be looking at billions in damage. Hopefully, though, with Katrina to remind us of what most in Texas already knew, we won’t be looking at many deaths.

Cat 5

Rita is now a Category 5 hurricane.

And my husband is not leaving with me.

What does it warrant a man if he gain the whole world, but lose his life? Or in this case, who cares about the house?

I care about R. Let the house fall in a big mud puddle. I’ll be sad, but it won’t be like I would feel losing R.

Husband Staying Behind

My husband insists that he will stay behind. I was looking forward to two days hanging out with friends. Now I’ll spend the whole time wondering how he is.

Pray for his safety.

I hope the whole thing dissipates out in the gulf and we have to spend a day unpacking the car.

Rita Not a Big Story?

Bogus Gold thinks that all the breathless discussion is just journalism. He says he doesn’t believe anyone really thinks they’ll have a big story like Katrina.

Let’s start with that.

The greater Houston area is 5 million people, not 1 million like NOLA.

The Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown Metropolitan Area, a title designated by the U.S. Census as of 2003, is the seventh largest and most diverse metropolitan area in the United States and consists of ten counties within the state of Texas.
Its former title was Houston–Galveston–Brazoria. The area is colloquially referred to as either the “Houston metropolitan area” or the “greater Houston area” and is situated in the region of East Texas.
The Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown MSA has a population of 5.2 million as of the 2004 U.S. Census estimate.

That is according to Wikipedia.

We have a channel with refineries and chemical plants. We have Galveston, which is a huge place all by itself, on an island. If Rita hits Houston dead on, even at a Cat 3, our hospitals and roads will be underwater again. Just like they were four years ago when the water wasn’t even from a hurricane. (Tropical Storm Allison. Look for pictures.) That’s a big deal. Friends of mine were planning to leave today but their grandson was taken to TX Children’s last night. He’s now at risk if this storm hits us. And they aren’t sure they should/can go.

So I think we still have a huge chance of being hit badly.

Bogus Gold also says, “Well there will be damage of course. It is a hurricane after all. But there won’t be nearly as large a list of the dead, injured, and missing as with Katrina. The bill to repair the damage won’t be nearly as high as Katrina. ”

If there isn’t as large a list of dead, injured, and missing, it will be because of Katrina. But while Galveston has mandatory evac now and Houston will for surge areas and mobile homes, there’s still no noise about mandatory evac for hospitals. And that means some of the people who are there now and well may die. (See my earlier post.)

Right now I don’t really believe the storm is going to hit us dead on. But if it does, I don’t plan to be here to see it. And I am hoping my family and friends will not be here to see it either.

But I think that if it does, even with all the prewarning and the gridlock on the highways already, there will be more financial loss in this area than there was in NOLA. (Perhaps not the whole area hit by Katrina, though.) Because Houston is bigger.

In 2001, with Allison, we lost $5 billion. I don’t know what they’re projecting for NOLA, but if Rita gets anywhere near us it may be more than that.

So the bated breath and breathlessness is, I believe, partially caused by Hurricane Katrina. But I also think there’s a good reason to prepare and a good reason to get out.

Should You Evacuate?

New folks have moved to town. They’re from Ohio via Atlanta. She was wondering whether they should leave. Her husband’s work is closing today and won’t be open over the weekend.

I called her and said, “You need to leave.”

I can’t believe they weren’t sure when I found out that she’s on dialysis. Four days is how long she can go without electricity. Right now the forecast is for 2 weeks of no electricity. (I know that’s probably high, but what if it’s not.)

So now they are leaving. I told her to take all her car would hold. Pack as if she were never coming back. And be glad, at the end of all this, if the worst thing we have to do is unpack it again.

Highways over here are already log jammed. People are saying it is taking three hours to get from south of Houston (where my folks live) to north of Houston (where I live).

My folks were planning on leaving tomorrow. They were going to pick up their RV tomorrow and head out. I wonder if the RV place will even be open.

Also, my sister says she’s not going. If she’s not going, then they may not go. The only problem with that is my sister is stocked up for a week. My parents are not. So if my parents don’t go, they may be using some of S’s stock.

I’ve suggested to my folks that they come to my house tonight and then they can get to the RV place easier tomorrow. They’re not too sure about that idea. Of course now they aren’t sure they are leaving at all.

I told my sister to go to our other sister’s house, out in NC. She could take the kids and go there just for the weekend. If it turns out this is no big deal, then she’s had a nice visit. If it turns out our homes are matchsticks or swimming pools, then she’s safe and has electricity. (She’s sick and pregnant.)

I don’t know what my extended family are going to do. Even my husband doesn’t want to leave. But I’m taking the kids and going. And I’m going to hope that it is just a nice visit with my girlfriend up in Dallas.

Preparedness

We have 16 gallons of water, 16 gallons of other drinks. We have tarps and duct tape. We have food and dog food. We have tool box and car gassed up.

But I am thinking that the best preparedness we can do is to leave.

Schools are closed tomorrow and Friday to allow everyone to get out. Church is cancelled except for Sunday morning service, which is subject to power. They’re expecting us to get out too. And I’m thinking that we should.

My plan is to go to a friend’s in Dallas. She invited us, but I don’t remember if she remembers the dog. I figure we’ll be there two days. Then if the hurricane has hit, we’ll know how bad it is. If it’s bad we’ll go to my mother-in-law’s. If it’s not we can come home.

But we’re taking all our jewelry, guns, ammo, small family heirlooms, money, and as many clothes as I can fit in the car.

Why We Aren’t Evacuating

We don’t live anywhere near Galveston. In fact, we’re at the northernmost end of Harris County.

TOPOGRAPHY: Houston lies largely in the northern portion of the Gulf coastal plain, a 40- to 50-mile-wide swath along the Texas Gulf Coast. Typically, elevation rises approximately one foot per mile inland.

Northern and eastern portions of the area are largely forested; southern and western portions are predominantly prairie grassland; coastal areas are prairie and sand.

Surface water in the Houston region consists of lakes, rivers, and an extensive system of bayous and manmade canals that are part of the rainwater runoff management system. Some 25%-30% of Harris County lies within the 100-year flood plain. Elevation ranges (a.s.l.): Brazoria 0′-146′, Chambers 0′-85′, Fort Bend 12′-158′, Galveston 0′-43′, Harris 0′-310′, Liberty 0′-269′, Montgomery 43′-435′, Waller 80′-357′.

Somewhere in my area is an 85 foot elevation. I am on a hill, though, so I expect I am higher.

As long as it doesn’t flood to the north of us so that they release the gates on the lake up north, we’ll be okay. If they do, though, our house may get water. And we don’t have flood insurance because we’re not even in the 500 year flood plane. I hope this isn’t a 1000 year flood.

At the most we are expecting:
downed trees to block our roads and possibly open our house to rain
no electricity for up to 10 days
and, if the flooding everywhere is horrific (like it was in NOLA), then water in the house

Okay, I really didn’t like that last statement.

Hurricane Rita

It looks like Rita will hit just north of us. This is the Combined Track Plot. If you don’t know much about our geography,

here’s a map with Texas towns. With typical Texas understatement, the largest cities only go to “over 500,000.” Houston has 4+ million.

This page gives the probabilities that any city will be hit. Galveston has been going up all day in probabilities. But right now it’s still only at 13%.

If Rita does hit us on Friday, I won’t be going to Florida this weekend after all.

BTW, Galveston has begun evacuation. Many of the schools and colleges have closed. Texas A&M:Galveston closed at 11 am. Now they all have to get out.

Be Careful

I learned something while I was getting us prepared.

Two of the four water jugs we had for water had busted. I didn’t know. If we had had a full complement of unexpired water, I might not have checked.

So check on your supplies. Probably once a month would be good. But at least check them before the season when disaster is likely to come your way. (Winter blizzards in the north, perhaps. Hurricane season here.)

Getting Ready for a Disaster

We are trying to prepare in case Hurricane Rita hits Houston with the same force that hit NO. Most of what we are doing is getting more food. We’ve been low on food for months, with just the bare necessities in the house. Now we are restocking the pantry with food we will eat regardless of whether or not there is a problem.

The plus on that is if there isn’t a disaster, we’ll have food we want to eat instead of having to eat stuff to keep it from going bad.

We’ve bought more food than we’ve had in the house in months. We are fully stocked with non-perishable items that will keep us eating for a week. It may get boring but we’ve got it.
spaghettios (9 cans)
beans (7 cans of red, 2 of black, 2 of garbanzo)
green beans (5 cans)
corn (4 cans)
pineapple (5 cans)
applesauce (24 individual packets)
Cheezits (2 boxes)
Crackers (4 boxes-several kinds)
peanut butter (largest jar available with our own large jar just opened)
chips (54 small bags)
salsa (2 med. containers)
bread (2 loaves)
bagels (1 bag)
desserts (Zingers and Twinkies)

We have a 5-gallon water jug.
We also have 24 17-oz bottles of water.
We also have four one gallon bottles of water. (Nope. Only 2. Two had broken in storage.)
We also have three cases of Crystal Light.
And we have two cases of Gatorade.
And twelve bottles of Propel.

We’ve gotten 40 pounds of charcoal, so we can cook.
Two lighters.
A thing of charcoal fluid.

Off, in case we end up having to be outside.
Benadryl, Tylenol, etc.

We’re going to be pulling out our important papers, photocopying them, and putting them in one gallon plastic bags, to keep them dry.

We’re not done yet, so I’ll come back and update.

Sad News out of NO

Katrina did not claim all her victims during her winds or during the flooding afterward when the levee broke. Those people who had to be moved from hospitals during the storm didn’t all die immediately. But one’s hope is gone.

a teenage boy in Louisiana who is losing his fight with CF. Due to the devastation to that state he was moved from his transplant hospital and his health has deteriorated to the point that our clinic can not accept him for transplant.

I am sure he and his family are devastated. Pray for them.

Perhaps God would grant him a turn around on his health.

Update on Kidney Transplant in NO

Christy’s kidney transplant went well today. Her new kidney is already functioning some. Her husband who donated his kidney is also doing fine. Her incisions were much larger than expected because both of her diseased kidneys were nearly as a big as footballs. So her recovery might take a little longer. Dad said there is very limited staff and they were concerned about that. Please keep the entire family in your prayers. New Orleans is still under a dusk to dawn curfew and safety is an issue. There are no business open in the area, so they will be driving back and forth to X every day.

This is an update on this post.

“Shameful” Poverty in Rich America

The Pope’s envoy said, “Many were struck by … poverty, at times shameful, in rich America.”

It’s not the fact that there is poverty at all but what kind of poverty it is. We’re not poor. We’re rich. Our poverty is only shameful because we have allowed others to be poor without having to work.

I’ve been poor. My daddy worked 20 hours a day to feed us. We didn’t have much to eat. That was not shameful.

What is shameful is that people will take handouts all the time and never even attempt to work. Those people will “make” more than someone who is working constantly for an honest wage.

That’s the shameful poverty in rich America.

I found the article on the pope’s envoy at Stones Cry Out.