Category Archives: General Blogging

Posts about blogging in general, or the world of blogs.

Watch That Backsliding…

Steven den Beste backslides into political blogging once again, with a post at Hot Air. If he isn’t careful, he’ll be at it full time again. :)

Pity I can’t register for comments there, as I wanted to follow up with this: “Is it worth noting that extreme cases of teleological belief would fit the technical definition of schizophrenia?”

Hundreds Missing After Ike

Maybe now we’re going start seeing something on this in the media?

Nearly 400 people are presumed missing 12 days after Hurricane Ike slammed on shore. Calls flooded a Galveston County missing persons hotline at the Laura Recovery Center. People are terrified a relative was lost in the storm.

Also, we have the point that Rorschach made in comments:

This is third hand but I am told of a coast guard member that is saying that they are pulling bodies out of the bay on a daily basis and is suprised that it is not being reported in the media. I am also being told that many people on the Bolivar peninsula were overtaken by events. That Thursday evening many people got home form work and started packing up to leave Friday morning, but TXDOT stopped the ferry early Friday morning and that within an hour or so of the ferry stopping, the road through High Island flooded from the storm surge in seargent leaving them no way off the peninsula. I too am questioning the official body count.

The last part of Ror’s comment dovetails with accounts we’ve seen all along — hundreds of people were trapped on the Bolivar Peninsula, and the Coast Guard ran out of time to rescue them prior to the storm. Rumors continue to swirl about that there is a cover-up, and while I don’t have any sympathy for the tinfoil hat brigade, I would be remiss if I failed to note ABC13’s reports of rumors on the issue:

Viewer emails have come in claiming there are countless 18-wheeler trailers full of refrigerators with crews unloading boxes and boxes of bodies. Another viewer reported the recovery of at least 60 bodies, while another says 89 corpses are at UTMB.

And in Crosby, despite the four FEMA trucks outside the crematorium, owner Stanley Blackwell says his cemetery is in fact the regional storage site for area funeral homes in the event of a disaster.

When the power went out, FEMA sent the refrigerated trucks and powerless funeral homes sent over their deceased. He stresses the 100 bodies he currently has are not stacked inside. “We do not stack bodies,” he told us.

So where are all the bodies? Answers based on the official speculation so far…

1. In the marshes/small islands behind Bolivar. Significant debris fields exist there, and are difficult to reach, thus they haven’t been searched.

2. Out in the Gulf, washed there by the back flow off the islands, when the surge receeded.

3. Still in unsearched debris or buried in the sand. Sure they searched with cadaver dogs. They did in New Orleans too, and were still finding bodies in attics a year after Katrina.

4. They were all Scientologists and nobody noticed the giant comet stopping off to pick them up in the middle of the hurricane. (Ok, that one’s not official; I made it up.)

So the death toll is still pending, but at least it’s going to be a lot lower than it looked 5-6 hours before Ike landed.

A related rant.

And before I forget, lookie-look! The Chron’s back up to it’s old “Support the Illegal Aliens” schitck. “Cleanup spurs labor need: Undocumented workers will be linchpin in efforts.” Just goes to show that there’s no disaster so bad that the Chronicle can’t find a way to use it to push its agenda.

Homeowners have already turned to day laborers — many of whom are undocumented — to help clear brush, tent roofs and repair other storm damage. Contractors have hired them to rebuild or restore businesses and the city’s infrastructure.

And the major work of rebuilding small towns along the Gulf Coast or big homes in Galveston will likely be aided by undocumented workers.

And if they were here legally, they could pay taxes on their earnings, helping to fund the cleanup too, instead of sending all their money home to relatives in Mexico, so they can pay the coyotes to join the others here.

“Doesn’t Play Well With Others”

A few days ago, after Mayor White pitched a fit over the distribution of some relief supplies, I expressed some concern over Mayor White’s tendency to make harsh demands and slam people whom he felt didn’t meet his expectations:

I am rather disturbed about the Mayor’s tendency to demand other people make heads roll. In general, such behavior tends to cause folks you may need in the very near future to make notes about you like, “Doesn’t play well with others.” And it also sets you up for reciprocal demands. Bill might not want to lash out so much at perceived errors.

Lo and behold, his behavior that morning has come home to roost, and Governor Perry has stepped in to apologize on behalf of Texas. From Ted Olberg of ABC 13:

In storms like this, FEMA sends crews from all over the country to help manage the disaster. One of those crews came from Georgia to dispatch trucks of food and ice to points of distribution, or PODs. Mayor White thought they weren’t getting the job done and the governor of Georgia got offended when White told them so.

Last Tuesday morning, Mayor White visited the thousands of people in line at the TSU POD. All the supplies had been sitting overnight at Reliant Stadium. The mayor wasn’t happy.

“That is not going to happen again,” said Mayor White to the media in the days after the storm.
What he didn’t say from that podium is that before the trucks started rolling, some tough words rolled off his tongue. According to a city witness, he told some FEMA workers from Georgia dispatching trucks, to “Get those (expletive) trucks moving” and “You better get your (expletive) act together.”

Channel 13 keeps trying to carry the Mayor’s water on this one, saying, “We’re not proud of it and it doesn’t sound real nice, but when there’s no AC, heated language is a little understandable, maybe even coming from our Mayor White.” Then there’s this humdinger:

Apparently, those Georgia workers’ feelings bruise easier than a Georgia peach. They tattled on our mayor and the Georgia governor wrote Texas Governor Rick Perry a letter saying, “I would not tolerate the profane berating of Texas or Georgia volunteers here…and I trust that you do not either.”

If not for the involvement of two governors, this sure would seem like a little dealAnd it does seem like a little deal to the guy who supervises the Georgia workers. He told me on Tuesday that they’ve been yelled at by a lot more people than Mayor White and they understand how he lost his cool.

Well, I suspect the reason he told you that, Ted, is that he’s got a hell of a lot more class than the Mayor showed that morning.

The Chronicle, long derided as “Ms. White,” seems a bit disenchanted in her spouse, noting that while the supervisor may be a guy, the Georgia workers the Mayor was so kindly remonstrating with were not.

Gov. Rick Perry yesterday asked his staff to investigate comments White made to two Georgia Forestry Commission employees who came to Houston to help manage the distribution of federal and state supplies to area residents hit hard by Hurricane Ike. Perdue said in a letter to Perry that White had “verbally and profanely abused” the women.

A witness said White told the women, “You need to be getting these (expletive) trucks out of here.” The mayor then began arguing with a Harris County sheriff’s deputy over whether trucks full of Federal Emergency Management Agency supplies had been delivered to a distribution site, the witness said. White told the deputy he had just been to the site and about 3,000 people were waiting for supplies.

White went on to say that if nothing was delivered soon, they were ”about to be in a (expletive) riot,” the witness said.

I’m sure that they now have a really positive view of Texas men. And of General Patton, whom Bill so kindly compares himself to:

“I did use words that I have never used in the Sunday school class I teach, but which were closer to the vocabulary General Patton used when he was trying to keep his army moving,”

As salty as he was towards the press and his own soldiers, I strongly suspect that General Patton would have shot any officer who directed intemperate language like that towards ladies.

Was he ejected, or not?

In a letter sent Friday to Perry, but not White, the Georgia governor [Perdue] described a confrontation last Tuesday that has become a hot topic of conversation in local law enforcement and Republican political circles.

”Apparently, Mayor White had to be escorted from the scene by the Incident Commander,” Perdue wrote.

White wrote in his response that he was not “escorted from the site” but “drove with one convoy of trucks to a site where about 100 volunteers and many thousands of people had been waiting in line.”

Well, at least the Chronicle manages to make it look like it’s all just partisan sniping, by working in “Republican political circles” right after “local law enforcement.” As if it doesn’t matter whether your temper tantrums become local gossip as long as it can be passed off as partisan local gossip.

Another interesting note about the ABC 13 piece: the name that doesn’t show up in here (“right before the trucks got rolling”) is that of County Judge Emmett. When the going got tough, Mayor White pitched a fit. Judge Emmett sat down at a table with a notepad and pen, and started fixing the problem.

And Governor Perry picked up the bruised peaches for Mayor White. Gee, I wonder if it’s time for a game of “Name that Party“? The Chronicle started it…

Disaster Recovery

A number of Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) have been established to help people who have already applied for assistance. Note that while applications can be made there, FEMA would strongly prefer to accept registration for assistance by phone or online. (FEMA really doesn’t want to repeat the long lines that occurred after Katrina and Rita, and I don’t blame them. A busy signal may be annoying, but so is standing in line for four hours.)

When an applicant gets a FEMA letter after registering with FEMA it can often be confusing. The DRC will help the applicant understand the denial or award letter they receive. They will also be able to register there, but it is preferred that they register over the phone or online. The DRC also provides different agencies that may help the applicant after a disaster such as: IRS, SBA, etc.

The IRS? (Never mind…. making a joke of that would be like shooting fish in a barrel.)

As of today, four sites will be open Monday thru Sunday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm:

1. Ellington Joint Reserve Base, 14657 Sneider Street, 77034
2. Home Depot Store, 11500 Chimney Rock, Houston, Texas 77035
3. Home Depot Store, 10707 North Freeway, Houston, Texas 77037
4. Home Depot Store, 6810 Gulf Freeway, Houston, Texas 77087

More may be opened later. Before going to the center, residents should make sure to have their identification, Social Security number, insurance information, proof of address and contact numbers on hand.

At the DRC, visitors can:

* Receive information about different types of state and federal disaster assistance.
* Get help completing low-interest loan applications from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for homeowners, renters and business owners.
* Inquire about the status of applications for federal assistance.
* Receive referrals to the American Red Cross and other voluntary organizations to help with immediate unmet needs.
* Learn cost-effective measures to reduce the impact of future disaster losses.

Additionally Nationwide Insurance had a mobile center set up yesterday in the parking lot of Lowe’s at Wallisville and Beltway 8 on the east side for its customers. They looked kind of bored when I drove by at 5pm.

Americares has opened a mobile clinic to serve the public at 215 Westheimer.

Sept 13: In the wake of Hurricane Ike’s landfall, the international disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization AmeriCares is moving relief supplies and emergency response specialists to the hardest hit areas of the storm. At AmeriCares headquarters in Stamford today, staff and volunteers are loading a Mobile Medical Unit with essential medicines and medical supplies that are bound for the Galveston-Houston area. The Mobile Medical Unit will provide medical services to returning evacuees in the Houston metro area.

“As Texas officials issued urgent warnings about Hurricane Ike this week, AmeriCares began working to ensure that critical medical supplies will be available in the recovery effort,” said Curt Welling, president and CEO of AmeriCares. “The need for assistance and support is great. We will remain in Texas as long as is necessary to support the individuals and families affected by Hurricane Ike.”

In addition to deploying the Mobile Medical Unit, AmeriCares is sending emergency response and clinical staff to assess the needs of the communities in the path of the storm and determine the priorities for future assistance. The organization is also working in collaboration with Nestle to send bottled water to the Galveston-Houston Area.

AmeriCares is a private, nonprofit international disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization, which delivers medicines, medical supplies and aid to people in crisis around the world. Since it was established in 1982, AmeriCares has distributed more than $7.5 billion in humanitarian aid to 137 countries. To learn more about AmeriCares and to find out how to support the relief efforts in Texas, visit americares.org.

And unless you’re some kind of anti-religious bigot, Grace Community Church Senior Pastor, Steve Riggle, announced today that his church will be hosting a community seminar with Houston City Council Member Mike Sullivan at their South Campus location 14505 Gulf Freeway at Dixie Farm Road Monday, September 22 from 7PM-8PM to cover issues with insurance, FEMA and housing. This seminar is open to anyone and everyone. The goal of this seminar is to answer questions many have but are unable to get answered.

Presentations will be given about temporary and long term housing issues for those affected by Hurricane Ike; insurance and insurance claims processes; Texas Windstorm insurance; as well as FEMA related issues. (Actually, they’ll probably let you in, even if you are an anti-religious bigot. Those whacky Christians, never know what to expect from them!)

Speaking of Christians, Catholic Charities Staff and Volunteers will be giving out food and water at the Catholic Charismatic Center at 1949 Cullen Blvd Monday, September 22 from 2 – 7 pm. Donations for Ike are urgently needed to assist with recovery efforts. To donate visit www.catholiccharities.org.

Links to more information:

Chron’s assistance blog/list
KHOU’s help blog
ABC13’s list (with services provided)
Channel 2’s list of POD locations

I also checked the Houston Press, but they were too busy snarking and putting links to two year old articles on the front page (News and Columns; Special Reports) to actually be, you know, helpful. (I suppose that’s rather mean of me after their Hair Balls called me “the ever sharp-eyed Ubu Roi.” I am such an ingrate.) Well, they do have a list of restaurants that are open.

Mmmmm. El Jardin’s. Love their quesadillas.

Scamminating the Peasants (er, Taxpayers)

Just in case you didn’t think we could home-grow these sick bastards here. (Edit: you know, this is so perfectly stupid, I almost have to believe it’s a fake.)

I got Schlotsky’s today for lunch and went again to the courthouse in Baytown to get my water, ice, and food. This time, there were different meals, but hopefully as good as the others. Then, i came home, emptied my trunk and then headed off for the Deer Park POD (Point of Delivery).”

“I think that I am falling in love with MREs. They are pretty darn good. I went around 5:30 to go get more MREs and actually got another box of real MREs, water, and ice.”

Jacki, a teacher in Baytown, is spending her days scamming free eats that we, the taxpayers, have provided. And bragging about it in cyberspace.

“Life is great after a hurricane when nothing really happened to your house!” Steinhauer says in her blog, “The Secret Life of an Uninteresting Teacher.”

She’s already taken down her blog (after claiming not to have taken anything she wasn’t entitled to, and that it was all really for her boyfriend), but someone else grabbed her posts before she could wipe the blog, and put them here.

Why is she doing this? Well, from her posts it appears she accidentally ended up in a POD line, and once she figured out how easy it was, she went crazy. But still, why would she do that? Because she felt — wait for it — entitled.

Also, I registered with FEMA to get some money. I was pissed during Rita that I got no money, even though I had tons of expenses. I was not a property owner at that time, but now I am and I want my money from Rita. If these other people can get money, I can too. There are not enough damages to make a claim on my homeowners’ insurance, so this would really help out. We are just going to have to replace a couple of windows, at least the glass portion of it. My deductible is over a thousand dollars, so it is so not worth it.

Hello. Ms. Stupid Fucking Greedy Bitch? I was a homeowner during Rita, and I had expenses from the evac too. Not one dime reimbursed by the government, and I would be insulted if they did. Not their job to deal with life’s curveballs and make every boo-boo better.

Oh, but it gets better. Listen to this rant:

Also, with my parents, my grandma was killing me. I was concerned about my house. She kept on talking about her trailer. My brother and brother-in-law both said that it was fine, but she desperately wanted to go over there. She kept on saying that she just wanted to stay at her house eventhough she would have no electricity. She kept on egging things on and it was driving me crazy! As I am writing this, I realize that I have left my mother by herself. I feel so sorry for her. My grandma does not like her and whenever they get something new, it always goes back on my mom somehow. Either my dad only cares about my mom, my mom always wants new things, or something else crazy like that. my mom didn’t do anything to my grandma except for marry my dad. She has not liked any other the other women that my dad was married until after the divorce. My grandma even brought up how my dad’s first wife took everything that he had after the divorce. My grandma is crazy. I wish that I could have had my mother stay, but she wouldn’t stay behind without my dad, so she had to leave and I really wanted to stay at home. I will call her tomorrow and talk to her.

You know, after reading that paragraph, I was originally assuming she is of a particular ethnic persuasion. Yeah, that one. The one we call “White Trash.”

Does that make me racist?

(And dammit, I’m still taking time off from hurricane-blogging!!!)

Not Quite (Many) Dead Yet

A title which has to be the most tasteless and tacky Monty Python reference of this hurricane season. Yeah, I know I’m supposed to be taking time off from hurricane blogging. So sue me. Only don’t, ok?

Amazingly, despite all the horrible predictions, we still have no bodies found on Bolivar. It’s been almost a week now. I’ve seen some contradictory net rumors from “friend of a friend” type sources, but not one eyewitness report. From KHOU:

GALVESTON, Texas — Search teams finished a second sweep of Bolivar Peninsula on Thursday and did not find any bodies, the Galveston County judge said. However, as the search of the devastated peninsula transitions from rescue to recovery, Judge Jim Yarbrough cautioned that those missing from Bolivar might never be seen again.

“There’s no question we are going to have some missing people (that) we are never going to find,” Yarbrough said Thursday night.

I’m having real problems believing we could be so lucky, that there has not been one body found yet*. The escapes we’ve heard of have been too close and harrowing for there to not be a number of deaths, if there were lots of people left. Estimates of the number of people who remained on Bolivar and Galveston must have been wildly incorrect.

*edit: we do have the report of someone dead here.

Hurricane Fatigue

It doesn’t just stop people from evacuating, it stops them from blogging. After a solid week of all Ike, all the time, I’ve had enough. I tried last night to finish my article about hurricane evaluation methodologies, only to lose an hour’s work through sheer stupidity. “Save early, save often.” And I didn’t.

I’m going to take a day or two off from blogging and just chill for a bit. Watch some anime, relax and blog about it, maybe (until I read someone’s really stupid comment somewhere, and then get pissed enough to write again). I’ll get back to that article, and I’ve still got some thoughts about folks returning to Galveston, supply distributions, what the city pays for gasoline, and of course, the aforementioned methodologies.

In the meantime, my sudden burst of activity has caused a slew of folks to link to me, and I’d like to give a shout out to them:
Dr. Melissa Clouthier at Information Polination (Hey Doc, tell your mom I said “yes”*)
Houston Press’ Hair Balls
Dick Stanley, at The Texas Scribbler
Brendan Loy at Weathernerd
Brian Neudorff at WX-MAN’s Perspective

Thanks, all of you.


* From here

12:20 PM CST From my mom via IM, “Do we really need to witness the last moments of Geraldo’s life. And where’s Anderson Cooper?” I’m howling. See where I get my smart ass sense of humor?

With Geraldo and Dolecifino both on the Island, and expecting the surge to be even worse than it was, I really thought we had a shot at being rid of these two. Only way it could have been better would be if Chris Matthews were there to describe the kind of leg tingle he got from watching water come over the seawall. :)

Update: Additional referrers, as I dig through my logs and find them:
Trent Seibert at Texas Watchdog

Gilchrist is Gone, Pt. 2

There is no Gilchrist. Not anymore. The devestation is, to my knowledge, unprecedented in the modern era on the U.S. mainland.

Of the approximately 1000 structures existing in the town before Hurricane Ike, only about five survived the hurricane. Approximately 200 of these buildings were homes, and it is thought that some of the residents attempted to ride out the storm in their homes. According to media reports, about 34 survivors from Gilchrist and the neighboring communities of Crystal Beach and Port Bolivar have been fished out of Galveston Bay in the past few days. Rescuers who have reached Gilchrist have not been able to find any victims in the debris because there is no debris. Ike’s storm surge knocked 99.5% of the 1,000 buildings in Gilchrist off their foundations and either demolished them or washed them miles inland into the swamplands behind Gilchrist. Until search teams can locate the debris of what was once was Gilchrist, we will not know the fate of those who may have stayed behind to ride out the storm. Not only did Gilchrist suffer a head-on assault by Ike’s direct storm surge of 14+ feet, topped by 20′ high battering waves, the town also suffered a reverse surge once the hurricane had passed. As Ike moved to the north, the counter-clockwise flow of wind around the storm pushed Galveston Bay’s waters back across the town of Gilchrist from northwest to southeast. This second surge of water likely finished off anything the main storm surge had left.

(Emphasis added.)

I recommend you follow the link and look at the first two pictures. Mother Nature, sometimes she is a bitch.

Update: More before and after pictures here.

And actually, a close reading indicates that the survivors mentioned by Dr. Masters were not from Gilchrist.

With flat-bottomed boats fit for marshland, on Sunday alone [Texas Parks and Wildlife] got 30 people out of the extreme south-east of Galveston Bay, some 100 kilometres from Houston. On Monday it was only four people, all of them members of one family who took refuge in their attic alongside their cats and dogs.

However, there was no sign of Gilchrist residents, dead or alive. The authorities hope that they all chose to evacuate, but they know there is always a group of stubborn individuals who opt to stay. And the chances that they survived are zero.

Update: Some people still don’t get it.

It is now night-time in whatever is left of Gilchrist, and a vehicle can be seen approaching from the south-west, from an impossible origin. The bridge linking the two parts of the peninsula has been virtually destroyed, but Bobby Anderson manages to cross it in the dark on the truck that he himself carefully cleaned up of sand and water.

He is hungry and thirsty, after several days of eating raw meat and drinking the thaw water from his freezer.

When the storm came, this 56-year-old construction worker was carried off by a wave. He managed to swim to his neighbours’ house and he survived there until the hurricane died off. His partner did not make it.

But Anderson refuses to talk about that. He would rather devote his energy to criticizing rescue teams, who refused to give him food in an attempt to get him to leave.

I’m strongly tempted to be cold and heartless for a moment: “Fucking dumbass,” was my first thought. “Fucking dumbass ingrate” followed shortly thereafter. But no matter how much I try, no matter ho much of an idiot he may seem, I have to admit a sneaking admiration for the human spirit. There’s always folks just too damn stubborn to give up, no matter what the odds.

Evacuate… or Else

From CBS News:

About 250 people who withstood Hurricane Ike on a coastal sliver of land will be forced off it so crews can begin the recovery effort, authorities said Tuesday, vowing to invoke emergency powers to make it happen. The Texas attorney general’s office is trying to figure out how legally to force the holdouts to leave, [County Judge Jim] Yarbrough said. Local authorities are prepared to do whatever it takes to get residents to a safer place.

That’s going to go over really well. One bad effect of the cool temperatures we’re having is that people aren’t being forced out of those areas for lack of air conditioning. Ninety degrees and high humidity are no fun.

Meanwhile, Galveston’s mayor has come to her senses. Sounds like she was browbeaten into recognizing her stupidity by the state of Texas. From the Chronicle:

As companies worked to restore electricity to the region, Galveston worked to restore order by suspending its ‘Look and Leave’ program for Galveston Island, indefinitely, effective immediately, officials said this evening.

Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas initiated the program at noon today, but had to suspend it less than six hours later.

Earlier today, thousands of evacuees, apparently responding to a “look and leave” policy announced by Galveston officials, created a huge traffic jam that was blocking emergency vehicles and badly needed supplies from reaching the island, state transportation officials said.

(Update: the traffic jam hit 8 miles at one point.)

White and Emmett are working together to take control of the FEMA relief efforts after some glitches. I’m really undecided about this. The NIMS training I mentioned earlier makes a big deal about having a unified regional command, and speaking with one voice, but one of the things I’ve noticed is that it runs headlong into local politicians who must have their Moment in the Sun, Looking Decisive and Caring. Still, if it’s not working, it’s not working. Local politicians know the area better, and have already developed working relationships with many companies and key persons. Assuming they’re not named Ray Nagin, the locals are in a better position to get things done. I am rather disturbed about the Mayor’s tendency to demand other people make heads roll. In general, such behavior tends to cause folks you may need in the very near future to make notes about you like, “Doesn’t play well with others.” And it also sets you up for reciprocal demands. Bill might not want to lash out so much at perceived errors.

I have to say though, 200 trucks sitting in Reliant’s parking lot while some centers go unstocked sounds just a bit screwed up. There should be one person in charge of marshaling the yard (“Ice trucks over here, food over there, volunteer parking here, this corner for our own supplies. Trucks to enter here, x number of people to direct them…”), one to head up the effort to inventory what’s available, whats on the way, and what’s dispatched; one to handle logistics for the volunteers and trucks (fuel, etc.) If the feds can’t supply someone who can work that out, they really do have problems. (Granted, doing it on the fly, from a standing start is not a trivial task. That’s where the NIMS training is supposed to come in.)

Re: Centerpoint and power:

Meanwhile, up to half of the five million people toiling without electricity in Houston may still be in the dark next Tuesday, according to predictive models used by the region’s largest utility company, a spokesman announced this evening.

Floyd LeBlanc, vice president of communications for CenterPoint Energy, said the company has restored power to 690,000 of its 2.2 million customers. But by next Tuesday, between 550,000 and 1.1 million will still be without power, he said.

“We still have a lot of work ahead of us,” he said. “We’re working around the clock.”

In short, they’ve gotten the easy stuff; now it gets hard. And hard takes longer.

Meanwhile, people are still finding stupid ways to die, long after Ike is gone:

In other news, two men found inside a southwest Houston mobile home are among 10 in the area whose deaths have been linked to Hurricane Ike, Harris County medical examiners said.

Francisco Garcia, 20 and German Rojas, 32, were discovered about 2:30 p.m. Monday when a relative came to check on them in their trailer in a mobile home park along the 14100 block of Del Papa, Houston police said.

Both men died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a gas-powered generator found in the kitchen, authorities said.

Internal combustion and enclosed spaces don’t mix.

That’s all for now.

(edited for clarity)

To Boil or Not To Boil

Regarding the City of Houston’s water and sewer service, I have found this, posted today:

As of Monday, September 15, 2008 we are diligently working with CenterPoint Energy to restore power to sanitary sewer pumping stations that carry waste water to our treatment plants. Currently PWE crews are performing physical inspections and evaluating the condition of wastewater lift stations and treatment plants throughout the city. Only 10 of the 40 wastewater facilities and 15 out of 400 lift stations scattered throughout the city, are fully operational. We have prioritized repairs to the remaining facilities starting with the ones that service the largest populations. Crew will be working vigorously to get the remaining repairs completed as soon as possible. We are aware of the inconvenience caused by Hurricane Ike and encourage the public to call 3-1-1 to report sewage problems within their neighborhoods. These problems are directly related to high flood storm water that invaded our sanitary sewer systems. As the floodwaters decrease all across our communities, the sanitary sewer problems will diminish.

According to the latest information available on Ch. 13 (broadcast, no link yet), the boil advisory has been lifted, except for east of 288, south of Hwy 90, out to Beltway 8.

Crystal Beach, Before and After

Two photos from Dr. Master’s blog at Weather Underground:

If you look at the road halfway across the peninsula, you can see the debris line in the trees. Dr. Masters quotes Dr. Abby Sallenger, Jr. of the USGS:

We saw vast areas flooded by storm surge; the water extended landward in places for tens of kilometers. The beaches served as rims that contained the flood waters. In Louisiana, channels were cut (naturally) through the beaches so the water would drain seaward. Where the max surge occurred (between Bolivar Peninsula and Sabine Pass), the returning water completely submerged the Gulf shore for kilometers. The maximum impacts were on the Bolivar Peninsula, the site of our example comparisons online now.

(Emphasis mine.)

Next up: Hurricanes: Evaluation Methodologies.

Galveston Mayor Flubs Again (Edited)

After spending two days trying to empty her island, Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas abruptly reversed herself and told residents, “Ya’ll come on home.” Well, she meant for only six hours, to “look and leave” but predictably, since she didn’t have the brains to establish a rotation or any other type of control, everyone tried to head home at once. There is now a two-mile long traffic jam on on I-45 (as of an hour ago) with residents trying to get to Galveston. TxDoT is not happy.

Our resources are not able to get through,” said TxDOT spokeswoman Raquelle Lewis. “We have National Guard sitting in traffic, we have our crews sitting in traffic, we have FEMA resources sitting in traffic.”

I’ve (mostly) been restraining myself from being overly negative about glitches and problems, because this is a huge, huge disaster and it’s not like we get to rehearse for things of this magnitude. I do not want to be “stuck on stupid” like certain members of the press. But this is just damn idiotic political fear–she’s probably afraid of the backlash from disgruntled homeowners.

But how many of the people who get home will refuse to leave? She was just getting her city emptied out, and now it’s going to fill right back up with people needing ice, water, and food. She’s going to end up forcing Governor Perry to declare martial law and send in the National Guard to remove people by force, if she’s not careful.

Update: And the comments are even stupider:

Lmaris wrote:
Why did it take 2+ days after the storm for these “emergency” vehicles/personnel to attempt to enter Galveston island?
why weren’t these items/people stationed closer to the area so it wouldn’t take days to arrive? How long are people expected to stay away from their homes in shelters that don’t have food or beds?

SomeDude713 wrote:
us dang helicopters!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not enough money to own? RENT!

You remember the good ol’ days where everyone helped themselves and didn’t sit around squalling that the gubbermint should have had food, water, and debit cards in their hands within hours?

EDIT: the remainder of this update really didn’t fit the original thrust of the article, so I’ve broken it off into the next post.

Hype? Still Not.

Regarding the surge, I have a few more comments, drawn from an upcoming article on hurricane predictions.

The first day after Ike’s landing, there was much hoopla over how the surge was overhyped–only to discover that it wasn’t so much overhyped as just not where the reporters were. The observed surge was at the lower end of the predicted scale for a Category 3 storm (15-20 feet, but Ike was Cat 2) and just went east of the bay, which is exactly as predicted for the actual landfall point.

Predicted surge for a Cat 3 Ike hitting the north end of Galveston Island. From SciGuy’s blog.

The SLOSH model as seen here is set to predict what might be called the 90th percentile of a Cat 5 storm; there is only a 10% chance the actual surge would be worse. If you want to save lives, that’s as it should be — for a Cat 5.

But the picture I posted above is the most relevant to what we actually had, a high-end Cat 2 landing across the north end of Galveston (albeit Ike was headed more northerly, and the eye passed east of downtown). Notice the predicted surge height on the islands? Nine to eleven feet from Galveston Island through the eastern end of the Bolivar Peninsula…whereas observed heights appear to be in the 12-13 foot range on Galveston island and 14-15 foot range on the Bolivar Peninsula. In short, the inner bay got off lighter than expected but the barrier islands got hit worse than predicted by a storm that was slightly weaker than predicted. And we don’t have any reports from the areas predicted to be hardest hit; the media has made Houston/Galveston/Bolivar the story, so we don’t know how anyone else is doing at all.

Take your so-called “hype” and shove it. Ike was the real deal.

Stuck on…Rumors?

After a day back at work, the rumor mill is going at a pretty good clip. I do not attest to the accuracy of any of these; they’re unconfirmed, and given my resources, may remain so.

  • The current police cadet class has been on “lockdown” or mandatory duty like the rest of the officers; only not having graduated yet, they aren’t being assigned to any duties. In other words, they’re sitting around twiddling their thumbs or studying. Meanwhile POD’s are going without people to man them. Paging Chief Hurtt….
  • The city was looking for volunteers among employees to man POD’s, tomorrow they’re just going to assign people to them.
  • “Go ahead, write me a ticket for gouging. The fine is $10,000, I’ll make half a million today.” The gouge: $5.00/gal. gasoline. Not the smartest thing to say to the officer when the person behind him has the Attorney General’s office on speed-dial. The station was shut down within fifteen minutes. (Texaco somewhere on East Fwy, I’m told.) Oh, and the fine is $250,000 if the victim is elderly. I don’t believe that profit, not at $5 a gallon, unless we’re talking truck-stop sized tanks. One or more of these numbers is wrong…
  • I’m not sure what’s up with 311. As I noted earlier, people were pulled from other branches of Public Works to assist. Then they apparently went offline?
  • Parts of the city website are down. The city’s intranet is down. E-mail was down until midday. Voice mail is iffy. Word is, some emergency generators have failed, but this may include county and other organizations.
  • Long lines at gas stations today; I saw two stations with lines blocks long. Also, too many police are being tied up keeping an eye on them.
  • Did the state really screw up the response, or is White trying to look like Giuilani? I can’t find any information other than from local media; given Wayne’s performance the other day, I don’t trust any of them on this score.
  • Not a rumor: some evacuees complaining about limited hospitality in Austin.

Update: I saw a Texaco on the East Freeway that was shut down this morning, and it was a truck stop, albeit a small one.

Ike: NOAA Aerial Damage Survey (update)

At this link. Pics are hard to understand because they haven’t been rotated to orient properly. Actually, top is north, but I think on closer look, these are satellite pics, not aerial. (Edited for spelling. Photography, not fonts…) (Edited again for spelling. Photography, not X-men characters.)

It does put that pile of rubble that used to be the Balinese Room (which every local and network reporter stands in front of for their stand-ups) into perspective, doesn’t it?