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Skyline - Houston, Texas

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Wary but not yet alarmed

Hurricane Rita at peak intensity.

A Partial List of Hurricanes I've Known but not loved. Now another baddie churning around out there.



Experienced Gulf Coasters are not blase about hurricanes but usually don't get too excited about them either, somewhat like many Californians are about their earthquakes , Midwesterners are about their tornadoes or our northern neighbors about their nor'easters. . One thing about hurricanes as opposed to other natural phenomena, you have advance warning and if it looks like a baddie, you can run like a turkey.

When Rita came in shortly after the Katrina tragedy, my youngest fled all the way to Oklahoma. She took a lot of ribbing but didn't care. Hurricanes are bad enough but they often spawn tornadoes and those events are the bane of her existence. She was unaware of Oklahoma's track record for tornadoes.

And now Dean is on its way:
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http://www.chron.com
TOP STORIES - Sun. Aug. 19, 2007
All eyes watching Dean's path — Hurricane Dean streaked toward Jamaica on Saturday, and President Bush issued a disaster declaration for Texas days ahead of its final landfall, most recently projected for northern Mexico. READ STORY
[Present prediction for Gulf Coast landfall is Thursday morning.]
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Houston and environs still harbor a large number of Katrina refugees who have no homes to which to return. Naturally, many of them are antsy about Dean moving toward the Coast. Most natives here are wary but not alarmed. It isn't time yet to batten down the hatches or prepare to flee. Wise heads keep gas tanks topped off and begin to stock emergency supplies just in case. My apartment is all-electric so I'm buying foods that do not have to be cooked (unpalatable cold but edible) and stocking up on bottled water, batteries and lamp oil.

Major storms knock out the electric service and sometimes it is days or even a week or better before all electricity is restored. We have emergency generators here for this facility for the elderly and handicapped but the Housing Authority's maintenance men may have difficulty getting here because of flooding about the city. (Houston, built on a marshy flood plain prairie, floods every time the weather angel spits and especially during major storms). My 7th floor apartment isn't in danger of flooding but there is no guarantee about tornadoes. The three southeast facing windows are at risk for damage to high winds but otherwise this sturdy old building that has survived many storms should weather another one. Unless my children descend on me like the hordes of Attilla the Hun and haul me away, I plan to ride it out, UNLESS Dean aims for Houston. This building is sturdy but the roof is old and I'm on the top floor. I have no wish to have it coming off and debris around my ears. I will then evacuate.
Worried and Friend

I grew up hearing my elders talk about the great hurricane that struck Galveston in 1900.
Galveston hurricane, Sept. 8, 1900 -- More than 6,000 people perished in the nation's deadliest hurricane disaster, and more than half of the island's homes and buildings were destroyed. As part of its rebuilding efforts, the city built a 17-foot seawall to protect against future storms. [ The city residents also hauled in tons of sand and soil and actually raised their city 8 feet.]
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Another major storm the elders talked about was the one that struck our city (Corpus Christi, my home town) in "19 and 19".
· Florida/Corpus Christi hurricane, September 1919 -- The fourth most intense and deadly storm of the 20th century(to that date) passed near Key West, Fla., on Sept. 9-10. Ten vessels were lost at sea, resulting in more than 500 deaths. On Sept. 14, the storm struck south of Corpus Christi, killing another 287 and destroying North Beach. [A Catholic Hospital was situated there and the blessed, heroic nuns who remained with patients too ill to be evacuated perished with the patients].
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The first time I was frightened by a hurricane was in 1945. The winds were so strong that our rural home actually appeared to be breathing - the walls were moving in and out as they were struck by the mighty gusts. My father braved the force of the storm by going out and bracing the walls with timbers. After the storm passed, children floated in the floodwaters in "boats" of #3 washtubs.The fifth hurricane of 1945 made landfall near Port Aransas in central Texas (about 20 miles from Corpus Christi) as a 140 mph Category 4 hurricane. Towns from Freeport to Brownsville were subjected to hurricane force winds, causing around $20 million (1945 US dollars) in damages, and three deaths.
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My second son was born September 8, 1961 in Houston, my home then (and ever since). New mothers usually spent about a week in hospital at that time but I was so disgusted with my worthless Obstetrician that I demanded to go home the morning of the third day., on September 11th. The storm, Carla, made landfall between Port O'Connor and Port Lavaca, about 107 miles s/sw from Galveston. Houston is about 50 miles inland from Galveston. Galveston received a 24 ft. storm surge and was struck by 175 mph gusts. The eye of the storm passed over Victoria, about 125 miles from Houston, but the storm was so huge that Houston received a terrible blow. I came home with my new baby in the midst of a storm.

Hurricane Carla, Sept. 10, 1961 -- By Sept. 9, Carla's circulation covered the entire Gulf of Mexico. As the mammoth storm neared the Texas shore on Sept. 10, 150-mph winds were recorded near its center. Hurricane Carla had a diameter of hurricane-force winds of 300 miles, and diameter of tropical storm (gale) force winds of 500 miles.Damage eventually was tagged at about $2 billion, in inflation-adjusted 1990 dollars. But only 46 people died, in large part because of the evacuation of about 250,000 residents from coastal Texas.
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Hurricane Camille, Aug. 17-19, 1969 -- One of only two Category 5 hurricanes to strike the U.S. mainland in the 20th century (at that time), Camille was the fifth-costliest storm on record. Its death toll is listed at 256 and includes deaths on the Gulf Coast and in the Virginias, where more than 100 people perished in flooding.
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Alicia was small but powerful and very damaging. Our home was badly damaged and the roof almost peeled off.
Hurricane Alicia
, Aug. 18, 1983 -- This smallish hurricane -- the last major hurricane to strike the Houston/Galveston area -- killed 21 and caused damages totaling more than $2.4 billion, in inflation-adjusted 1990 dollars. [ Houston is a very green city with thousands of trees; Limbs and wind- downed trees would have filled a football field 1,200 feet deep.]
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Tropical Storm Allison, in 2001 was the costliest in Houston's history. It dumped 37" to 40" of rain in 5 days and created the worst floods Houston has ever experienced - and we've had some whoppers. Six hospitals were flooded and nearly 3,000 patients evacuated. Some freeways were under water and on some, flooded tractor trailer trucks displayed only their trailer roofs. 30,000 residents were made homeless, their homes destroyed, and 70,000 others had extensive damage.
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After suffering a stroke, I was discharged from the hospital on the day Houston was evacuating for Hurricane Rita. The tragedy of New Orleans and the destruction by Katrina made believers of a large percentage of the Gulf Coasters and many had to route through Houston, compounding the worst traffic gridlock in Texas history. My daughters refused to leave without me and drove their husbands nuts with their wailing , but the traffic jams were so heavy they were unable to enter the city to reach the hospital. I declined the hospital's offer of shelter but the taxi took 4 hours to pick me up. Houston dodged the bullet when Rita swung away and gave other folks hell. I spent the week in peace and quiet, after frantic relatives finally tracked Jeannie and her cats down in Oklahoma where she had taken refuge.

The Gulf Coast has taken many more hits than these from Tropical Storms and Hurricanes; these are merely the ones that impressed me the most. Soon we shall see what Dean has to offer. You inlanders, don't feel left out. Some of these Gulf Coast bad boys not only travel on to ravage the southern states, some continue to the northern states. Allison went on to harrass the mid-Atlantic states, Pennsylvania and the New England regions. Storms on the Atlantic seaboard also travel inland across many states. 'Tis the season, folks.



COMMENTS:


The Future Was Yesterday said...

Well, I'm from Michigan originally, I live in a gulf coast state, and I married a Californian, so I pretty well have the bases covered.:)

If I had to pick one event, hurricane, earthquake, or tornado that I had to be "in", it would be a hurricane. An earthquake, there's no warning at all. The world just collapses. Tornado's....you might get 3-5 minutes warning, IF you're lucky.

A hurricane can wreak incredible destruction, but that's physical things that can be replaced. I can't be.:) If a 'cane is headed our way, I don't wait to see where's it's gonna hit; I watch where it hits....from far, far away, and I run when it looks like we MIGHT get hit...not when we're gonna be hit for sure.

Monday, August 20, 2007 2:53:00 AM

WA: I agree. I have not experienced a tornado but have seen the after effects and I don't want to have that. I refuse to go anywhere near a volcano. I have experienced a quake (the after shocks - we were in Italy when the shock occurred) and I was firmly convinced that I did not like Terra Jello. I prefer Terra Firma. Upon consideration since posting, I amended my statement to "ride it out". I'll ride a Cat. 2 but not a 4 or 5. Nor even a 3 if it's a direct hit.
Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I’ve been praying that Hurricane Dean would blow itself out. However, about half an hour ago I received a “CNN Breaking News” email stating:

“Hurricane Dean picked up strength early Monday, setting its sights on the Cayman Islands and Mexico's Yucatan peninsula after battering the southern coast of Jamaica. The hurricane's top winds of 150 mph (240 kph) made it a strong Category 4 storm, with hurricane-force winds extending 60 miles (100 km) from its center. Dean could become a Category 5 later in the day -- the top of the scale, with winds in excess of 155 mph -- as it moves into the western Caribbean.”

That does not sound encouraging.

Monday, August 20, 2007 4:26:00 AM

Granny said...

I have the net back, at least at the moment.

Thinking about you.

Be safe.

Monday, August 20, 2007 8:45:00 AM

enigma4ever said...

It is 5pm MON. is is still a CAT5 and heading to the Yucaton Penisula...and I hope and pray that it does not hit Texas as a CAT5 , hopefully maybe the penisula will blunt it.....Hope...It was amazing reading about your experiences...you are so brave...wow...Hi granny also...

be safe and let us know you are okay..

Monday, August 20, 2007 4:29:00 PM

WA: These storms weaken over land but strengthen again over the warm Gulf waters, which Dean is apt to enter after crossing the Yucatan Peninsula. Meteorologists can make an educated guess as to a storm's projected path but they are notorious for changing directions; some have done loop-the-loops, crossed land and doubled back to hit another area. Although weakened after entering a land mass, many of them continue their swath of destruction far into the American continent, bringing floods and spawning tornadoes. Our inland neighbors should track the beast for your own welfare. We Gulf Coasters are watching Dean closely. The suffering of humanity is greater (as a rule) when one strikes the Mexican coasts. Many residents there have substandard homes that are readily destroyed and many are too poor to flee. News reports and photos of past hits to Mexico have been heartbreaking.
Hurricanes are a necessary part of our planet's life cycle and it is up to humans to take precautions and get out of their way. Property damage is unavoidable but loss of life need not be so. Because the storms are necessary to the planet's continued good health, I am alarmed at the stupidly idiotic of plans to alter the weather. See http://isamericaburning.blogspot.com/2007/08/new-revelations-of-criminal-stupidity.html.
Thank you all for your interest and comments.

Labels:

4 Comments:

  • At Monday, August 20, 2007 2:53:00 AM , Blogger The Future Was Yesterday said...

    Well, I'm from Michigan originally, I live in a gulf coast state, and I married a Californian, so I pretty well have the bases covered.:)

    If I had to pick one event, hurricane, earthquake, or tornado that I had to be "in", it would be a hurricane. An earthquake, there's no warning at all. The world just collapses. Tornado's....you might get 3-5 minutes warning, IF you're lucky.

    A hurricane can wreak incredible destruction, but that's physical things that can be replaced. I can't be.:) If a 'cane is headed our way, I don't wait to see where's it's gonna hit; I watch where it hits....from far, far away, and I run when it looks like we MIGHT get hit...not when we're gonna be hit for sure.

     
  • At Monday, August 20, 2007 4:26:00 AM , Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

    I’ve been praying that Hurricane Dean would blow itself out. However, about half an hour ago I received a “CNN Breaking News” email stating:

    “Hurricane Dean picked up strength early Monday, setting its sights on the Cayman Islands and Mexico's Yucatan peninsula after battering the southern coast of Jamaica. The hurricane's top winds of 150 mph (240 kph) made it a strong Category 4 storm, with hurricane-force winds extending 60 miles (100 km) from its center. Dean could become a Category 5 later in the day -- the top of the scale, with winds in excess of 155 mph -- as it moves into the western Caribbean.”

    That does not sound encouraging.

     
  • At Monday, August 20, 2007 8:45:00 AM , Blogger Granny said...

    I have the net back, at least at the moment.

    Thinking about you.

    Be safe.

     
  • At Monday, August 20, 2007 4:29:00 PM , Blogger enigma4ever said...

    It is 5pm MON. is is still a CAT5 and heading to the Yucaton Penisula...and I hope and pray that it does not hit Texas as a CAT5 , hopefully maybe the penisula will blunt it.....Hope...It was amazing reading about your experiences...you are so brave...wow...Hi granny also...

    be safe and let us know you are okay..

     

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