Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hurricane Blog #3

Okay, so much for my brilliant ideas.

Turns out that the alternate escape route I had come up with is good to a point, but because that's an evacuation route for the town of Victoria (further down the Texas coast), it's likely to be just as busy as all the other freeways. So, there's a very good chance we're going to have to ride this out.

There is no gasoline to be found in the City of Houston. Everything is sold out, and a large number of places (quickly reaching a majority) are closing up shop, even though landfall won't happen until Friday night. I would drive around to try to locate some gas, but that activity itself burns up precious gas, and if I don't find some I will have screwed myself.

There is some good news to report. A friend has an ancient gas generator, and we're going to test it out this afternoon. My neighbor has a gas can with about a quart of fuel in it -- just enough to see if the generator still works. If it does, we'll bring it over here, siphon gas out of my wife's car's tank to keep it running, and plug the refrigerator and a fan or (maybe) a window-unit AC into it. That leaves my vehicle full of gas so we can leave if the power doesn't come back on within a day or two.

Folks, you absolutely would not believe how surreal this is. April might be able to share some thoughts about what L.A. was like during the riots, which is the only common experience I can think of that might compare to this one. Except, of course, that nobody's shooting at me. Yet.

The supermarkets have been absolutely jammed for two days. There are three close to my house, and two of them have closed for evacuation. I made the mistake of going to the third a while ago. Checkout lines are streaming halfway down the aisles. ATMs are empty and banks have closed. As goods and supplies become more scarce, the roads are getting quieter.

I guess this is what the 72-hour evacuation window that they're complaining New Orleans didn't get is supposed to feel like. I don't know that any city in world history has ever had more advance notice that a natural disaster is going to hit, or been better prepared for it, than Houston/Galveston is right now. I don't have any sense of impending doom ... but I'm anticipating one hell of an inconvenience.

Quick news update: The "contraflow" (lane reversal) on the major freeway to Dallas has opened. Now they're working on the contraflows to Austin. People who left home with a full tank of gas hours ago have now run out on the freeways, so the Texas Dept. of Transportation is dispatching tanker trucks filled with gas to set up at rest areas and fill up stranded motorists. This, of course, completely ignores the question of how the tankers are going to get to the rest stops in the first place. But it's a nice gesture nonetheless, and maybe it will help keep the traffic flowing and nerves calm.

After all, it's nearly 100 degrees in Houston right now, and you can't sit on a concrete freeway without air conditioning. Which burns gas, which empties the tank, which means you no longer have air conditioning. It's a wonder we haven't heard about people opening fire on each other on the highways yet.

When the first strong winds hit tomorrow night, I'll sign off. Until then, I'm aware that national news coverage of this storm is a bit spotty, so I'll keep blogging until then.

posted by Gary @ 1:40 PM


At 12:38 AM, Blogger Ilaine Upton said...

Listen and learn, people!

It could be you.

You might be sitting there all smug, thinking, "I am too smart! This will never happen to me!"

Man proposes, God disposes.


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Location: Houston, Texas

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