Saturday, September 24, 2005


To our friends in the UK--Sherry (Mom) is well and staying in a hotel room in Little Rock, Arkansas, along with her mother. They both have homes in Beaumont and the status of those homes is unknown. The power lines in Beaumont are down and they will probably be unable to return to the area for a few days. Internet news sites in the area are also down. Gas is very hard to find in southeast Texas--those places that do have gas also have long lines and police forces to maintain order. In short, they will probably be in Little Rock for a few days.

People ask why we live in this area when there is the potential for hurricanes. I know it seems stupid, but you have to realize that our area only has one storm like this every 50 years. It always seemed dumb to me that people live in San Francisco when they know there will be a big earthquake someday. But it's really no different, I guess. People who have lived in this area for generations know of the risks and accept them. Our trade and industry is based on oil and gas, and for many reasons that industry requires being close to the coast. Other areas are at risk of earthquakes, tornadoes, forest fires, flash floods, sinkholes, mudslides, etc. You have to live somewhere.

We'll keep you updated!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Watching & waiting

Hurricane Rita is moving closer and closer to Port Arthur, Texas. I'm in a house in San Antonio. We were staying in a hotel room but Nora's pretty well-connected and she knew someone from Houston who staying in town at a friend's, and they invited us to join them.

Within 10 seconds of my announcing to the hotel desk that we were checking out, someone had already reserved our room.

My mother's in Little Rock, Arkansas, because when she decided to head north, that was the only place that still had rooms available. Dad's staying in a hotel at I-10 and Hwy 6, my daughter's with her mother in northeast Texas. So we're all pretty spread out, and staying in touch by cell phones. Service is spotty and we don't always get through the first time.

I've seen the clips on TV of the hurricane rolling in and thinking about the Big One in 1900. I guess no one reading this remembers the hurricane that caught Galveston unawares at the turn of the century. No matter. We are busy today making our own memories of a disaster. I don't know how bad it will be, but I know that it will take the area a long time to recover. My family moved into that area in 1835 with a land grant from the Government of Spain, and they have been in the area ever since. It's crazy to think that people wanted to stay in a swampy, mosquito-infested territory, but the promise of cheap land must have been greater than the inconvenience. So I have a lot of history in that area and I hate to see it washed away overnight. Tomorrow we'll have a better idea of the damages.

As for now, Houston seems to be doing pretty well. I called my house and my answering machine came on, so I still have power. Nora and I discussed driving back early in the morning, but her sister reminded us of all the stopped cars along interstate 10, and how the eastbound lanes were opened to westbound traffic. If we tried to return in the morning we would likely find a number of roadblocks in the form of stalled cars, and maybe debris. So for now the plan is to just settle in and wait to see what the talking heads on CNN have to say.

Speaking of CNN, I have a few observations. First, what's up with the hot pink rain slickers? I've heard that Anderson Cooper is gay, but now they all look gay. Second, I don't want to hear about Katrina right now. Katrina is so last month. We have a hurricane now. Today. Third, "the area between Houston and the Louisiana border" has a name. Put Beaumont on the map and quit talking about the area as if it was unsettled rice fields. It was the site of the first oil well in Texas, and deserves at least a little respect. Fourth, WE KNOW THAT GALVESTON IS A GHOST TOWN. I am sick of hearing it. Talk about something else. No no, not the bus that blew up. We've heard that story as well. Ten times. It reminds me of the SNL skit where someone shot Buckwheat, and they keep showing the clip over and over. I do have say cheers to the CNN crew for hustling around and following the storm, and jeers to Da Prez for hiding out in Colorado to watch the storm from a safe distance. Loser!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rita Update

The building is closing at noon tomorrow (thank you building management!) so my employer was forced to made the decision to shut down for the rest of the week. This gives me the opportunity to go home, pack up the cats, old pictures, etc., and and head out of town.

The consensus of people in my area is that the storm surge and flooding won't reach our neighborhoods, but high winds and possible tornadoes could still do some damage. Virtually everyone expects to be without power for a few days. So it makes sense to get away if we can. Nora's brother is going to take in her mother so it's just going to be three adults, two cats and two dogs in one room. Heh. Don't tell the hotel!

It's 2:00 on a Wednesday and the Houston real-time traffic map looks like 5:15.


My escape plans are kind of falling apart today. First, the talking heads are telling people that if they're going to leave they should do it today because tomorrow the roads will be packed with people. Probably. Except I can't because it looks like my employer is going to keep up business as usual until Thursday. Which means I would be leaving at 5:00 Thursday night along with the rest of the city. I've voiced my frustration, but the GM has a "big diesel generator in the garage and plenty of gas," so he's staying and I guess he is expecting the rest of us to as well. Maybe I can leave at 4:00 am Friday morning and it won't be so bad?

I have a hotel room reserved in San Antonio. It was going to be me, Nora, and her son Andrew. Nora wants to leave Houston today but I probably can't (see above). Meanwhile Nora's mother, who lives in a nursing home, is anxious about the storm and wanting to know who's taking her away from Houston. The woman has four kids and Nora's the only one who would actually make an effort to help her. So I told her that if she wants to leave today she should take her mother and go. That would be Nora, her mother, her son, and her two dogs all in one room. Getting pretty crowded for me and my two cats!

Either I leave late Thursday and go stay with them (waaay crowded at that point) or find another place to stay. Or stay behind. Al the hotels in San Antonio and Austin are booked up. My mother offered me to stay with them but depending on the direction Rita takes, Beaumont might be evacuated too.

SO. Here we are. Even if I wanted to hunker down and ride it out, all the supplies in town are bought up (water, batteries, etc), and I didn't stock up because I didn't plan on staying.

I know I'm being a prima donna. There were Katrina families from Louisiana all staying in single rooms of hotels. I can still go to San Antonio and stay in that clean comfortable room with Nora, her mom, Andrew, Bonnie, Clyde, Mini and Mandie.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Yikes! Looks like for now it's a possibility that Rita is coming straight for Houston! How big an issue is this for us? Dunno! The shaded areas in the map below represent the evacuation zones for Houston's coastal residents; I'm at the green dot to the northwest. Even if it was a Category 5 hurricane, I'm not in one of the recommended evacuation zones. Nevertheless, Nora and I agreed we should get a hotel reservation in San Antonio in case we decide to move out of its way. UH law school plans to decide Wednesday whether to cancel classes on Thursday. If it heads for Beaumont, I guess I'll be hosting my family from there! For now, we'll watch and wait.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

They're closing Astroworld!

I can't believe what I'm reading! How is the city letting this happen? Not that we go all the time, but come on! What do you say, people? Will you miss it?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

You gotta love Houston's response

A message to our Cajun friends from across the border:

You are welcome in Houston! We have set up the Astrodome to provide shelter. That shelter is only for those who were in the Superdome. All other refugees should seek shelter elsewhere, 'cause you can't stay here. Unless you're on a commandeered bus. Nevermind, you can all come in.

As you ponder the upheaval in your life, enjoy a 15% discount at area restaurants!

And a shout out to Houston residents--Want to offer housing to the homeless? You can post a message on a web forum. That way, when the poor, hungry refugees find a place to stay and have time to surf the internet, they can read about your offer!

My head hurts....