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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 09/14/2008

Ike's Bad Blow Was Almost Worse

By Dan Stillman

The cleanup continues in Texas and Louisiana today, even as rain and thunderstorms complicate the matter. Hurricane Ike flooded hundreds of miles of coastline, destroyed buildings and knocked out power for millions of people. The good news is the death toll appears to be low -- so far. Thousands are still believed to be stranded among the wreckage in Galveston.

Radar image of Hurricane Ike at landfall early Saturday morning. Courtesy HAMweather. Red arrows indicate counterclockwise cirulation around eye.

Galveston was hit hard but appears to have avoided complete devastation, mostly because the storm track shifted slightly to the northeast at the last minute. As a result, Ike's eye hit Galveston head on instead of just to the southwest. It's the area just north or east of the eye -- where the direction of the counterclockwise-circulating winds and storm surge is perpendicular to the coast (see graphic) -- that usually gets the worst of it.


Houston officials chose not, telling residents to stay put. The idea was to avoid what happened with Hurricane Rita in 2005 -- a nightmare of an evacuation that ended up killing more people than the storm itself. Presumably, the thought process this time was that Ike would be bad for Houston, but not bad enough to risk another deadly exodus.

The way I see it, there are really two questions to consider now that the storm has passed.

Keep reading for more thoughts on Ike. For local weather, see our full forecast to find out when today's heat will break.

First, did not evacuating Houston turn out to be a good decision? Preliminary indications suggest the answer is yes -- while damage throughout Houston is extensive, only one death has been reported in the Houston area so far, a woman in Pinehurst,Texas, who died after a tree fell on her house.

Second, was not evacuating the right decision? This is a more complicated question to answer. It depends, I would say, on how much stronger the winds would have needed to be to threaten more lives in Houston, and how high or low the chances were that the storm could have intensified to that level. (Remember, in Houston, which is about 50 miles inland, the main concern was with winds and flooding rains rather than storm surge.)

Ike made landfall pretty much as forecast -- as a strong Category 2 storm with winds near 110 mph, one mile per hour slower than Category 3 status. My guess is that had the forecast been for a strong Category 3 or higher at landfall, Houstonians would've been told to hit the road. So, the question is, how close was Ike to surpassing its predicted strength?

Several hurricanes over the past few years have surprised forecasters with unexpected and rapid intesification. And in fact, meteorologist Jeff Masters over at Weather Underground notes that Ike was becoming better organized in the 12 hours prior to landfall, and if it "had another 12-24 hours [over water] to complete this process, it would have been a Category 4 hurricane with 135-145 mph winds."

Do you think Houston's decision to have residents ride out the storm was the right one?


At first, I was feeling some sympathy for the thousands in Galveston who ignored the mandatory order to evacuate the island. It's easy to criticize from afar, I told myself, but maybe it's not such an easy decision to pack up your most important belongings and leave your house behind.

My opinion changed yesterday, however, after catching bits and pieces of a guy being interviewed on one of those cable news channels. He had just been rescued via some sort of an involved operation. Not sure if it took a helicopter, a boat or what. Anyway, there he was, spouting off the typical line about how he had weathered previous hurricanes, but this was worse than he ever imagined.

It was bad enough, I was thinking, that he (like so many others) put his life and the lives of rescuers at risk. But to top it off, this man who's life had just been saved was puffing away on a cigarette! Was this really the right time for a smoke? Gimme a break. I hope he and everyone else in Galveston who required a rescue get a hefty bill in the mail.

By Dan Stillman  | September 14, 2008; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Tropical Weather  
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Here's some video from Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula (just north of Galveston). The destruction in this area is quite extreme based on everything seen so far -- which is till not a lot.

Posted by: Ian, Capital Weather Gang | September 14, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Period | September 14, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

deaths are actually rare considering the number of people in the path of a storm. please spare us the moralizing. ever tried to drive in gridlock only to be caught in gale force winds?

Posted by: brandon, nyc | September 14, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I would almost swear you read my blog post about the hurricane before writing this. I am from the area around Houston but have lived in New Mexico the past 14 years. I still have family out there, however, and non of them were stupid enough to stay where they knew it would be dangerous. Yes, that little jig Ike took probably saved hundreds of lives. The problem now though, is that since it wasn't as bad as feared as far as probable loss of life, that there will be more that stick around the next time. My nephew is a fireman in Clear Lake and I know he and his fellow firemen and women will be completely wiped out by the time this is all over with for them; primarily because instead of doing things like concentrating on clean up and getting the city as a whole back on it's feet, they are spending their time rescuing the stupid. Yes... they DO need to be billed for this as they were TOLD to get out and ignored the warnings. That should be part of the deal... if we have to come in a pull your stupid butts out, you're gonna pay for it.

Posted by: tls | September 14, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Yes, you truly do not know what it's like to evacuate your home and leave your belongings aside.

Posted by: Robert | September 14, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Yikes. I agree that ignoring a mandatory evacuation order isn't the smartest course of action (although, as was pointed out, evacuation isn't an easy/painless thing to do). Criticizing this guy for having a vice is in poor taste, though. Furthermore, suggesting that these people get a "bill in the mail" is just short of saying that they didn't deserve to live. Why? Because they made a short-sighted decision?

Let's deny medical help to people who ride motorcycles too. After all, they know they are endangering their lives when they get on the bike. And most of them are probably smokers.

Posted by: Leigh | September 14, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Come on folks. Let's not fight and tear each other to bits. Monday morning quarterbacking is easy. Making good and right decisions based on things you can't control is more difficult.

While I too am tending to want to judge people who stay behind when there is a mandatory evacuation, I am also reminding myself that many of those people have no savings, no expendable income left after the Gustav evacuation, worries about looting and experience with false alarms. While I would tend to get out and be safe, it's worth putting yourself in other people's shoes.

Obviously, it's best overall for everyone to get out. But, we have to remember that it's not just a numbers game for individuals. Take the single mom with three teenagers. Her money was gone from Gustav evacuation. Teenagers eat a lot on the road. She's worried about going on the busses and staying in shelters with strangers. She's worried about safety. She doesn't want to give up control over her family to others. Doesn't want her kids to be in with the wrong crowd. Tends to be a little protective. Paralyzed by her empty pocketbook and habit of protecting her kids, she finally leaves and drives north not knowing where she'll stop.

These are not easy decisions.

Having seen the evacuees here locally and how well they have been welcomed and cared for, it's comforting to me. But, for people who live in rough circumstances, not knowing where they'll end up or how long they'll be gone, it can be paralyzing, and it can feel safer to stay home.

Perhaps what we need is more public education about what to do, what to expect in the case of an evacuation, a network contact people for people to call (someone they know) to ask questions of, a routine. Perhaps that will be part of us getting better at this. Perhaps each household will have it's own evacuation plan with it's own route to drive or place to meet a bus, and perhaps they will have a familiar shelter to go to so it's less stressful or frightening.

The guy smoking the cigarette is not the point. People do that when they are stressed. Some people just smoke all the time. It was I'm sure a comfort to him, no matter how unhealthy.

Let's give each other a break, especially those affected. If your house were flooded and you were displaced and at the mercy of others, you might be a little stressed, might feel frightened and paralyzed, might even go into denial.

Just having my teenager help with preparation up here in Central Texas showed me some of this. He was annoyed after a busy week at school and extracurricular activities, being a very busy honor student, to have to do all that work when he was exhausted. He of course is an invincible teenager, and he just didn't believe the forecasts. He resented having the patio furniture in the living room, having to finish cleaning out gutters before school, having to lay on his mom's bed because his own was exposed to corner windows, and even to consider getting into the bathtub with his mom and the dog if we had a tornado. Boy, is he a nonbeliever now that we got nothing but a few mild gusts!!! Not even any rain after forecasts of 100% likelihood of precipitation. He had dug a trench to drain water from our front door which almost gets water up to it when it rains hard. So, he is not going to want to do ANYTHING next time, even though I'll make him.

Folks, people get weary. The key is not to attack them but to make things less stressful, more familiar, and more of a given for them when they need to evacuate. The key is to put ourselves in their shoes. I personally would get out, period. But, we're all different. Even if we're only concerned about our taxes, we ought to make this work more smoothly next time.

Fighting won't help, folks.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

They shouldn't say that an evacuation is "mandatory" unless everyone actually has to leave. Mandatory means that you have no choice. But in the real world a mandatory evacuation means "pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top leave so your life isn't in danger."

Lessons were learned from Rita. Transportation out of town is provided for people without any. People can't say that they had no way to leave so were stranded. It is strictly their choice.

This is what I'd like to see for the "survivors": Rescue everyone that has someone dependent on them. If you stayed put with your kids (or a handicapped adult or elderly parents) you should all be resuced pronto. And then once you are all safe you should be turned over to CPS for processing. In the very least you should have to go through the home study process to make sure that you are fit to be responsible for other people. If you want to adopt you have to do that. No one assumes that you are fit without checking you out first. When you actually show evidence of not being fit by endangering your dependents lives then you should have to face the consequences. Maybe some counseling or parenting classes are called for. (Although I'm sure you can tell that I'd personally hope for more!)

And everyone else? Well, you wanted to stay so you should stay. Tread water or cling to a tree until the water recedes and the snakes swim away. You gambled and you lost. Vegas doesn't reimburse losers and I'm tired of my tax dollars being spent on idiots that gamble with their lives.

Posted by: Judy, TX | September 14, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Photo of Crystal Beach from the Dallas Morning News. Pretty devastating.

Posted by: Ian, Capital Weather Gang | September 14, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

More Crystal Beach photos. Appears this page will continue updating as new ones com in.

Posted by: Ian, Capital Weather Gang | September 14, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Because this guy was smoking a cig, everyone left on Galveston loses your sympathy Dan? You never had any. You hardhearted wingnut.

Posted by: Alvin | September 14, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but when you live on a BARRIER ISLAND that is little more than a SPIT OF SAND SURROUNDED BY WATER, it is a VERY easy decision to make. You leave, end of story. I wish no one harm, but I have little sympathy for people who live in a beach town then refuse to leave.

You have no business living in a resort town if you don't have a willingness and plans for evacuation. It puts other people's lives at risk. If evacuating doesn't sit with you, by all means, move to Houston, where housing is cheaper, jobs are more plentiful, and evacuation far more unlikely.

Posted by: Jim in Blacksburg | September 14, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Attention to which this may concern,
I am writing to ask why you are not updating the public on the following towns,
Winnie; Port Author; High Island, Gilchrist and Anahuac? I myself have parents from High Island who are in desperate need of what has happened to their home; as do others. These are all places where many have called home for most of their life; have built memories and need closure in some cases. This being an area that was hit by the “dirty” side of the storm and has more of a devastating story than Galveston or Houston. Please help in giving these families hope or closure.
Thank you,
Amanda Berndt

Posted by: IKE | September 14, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

This is an excellent example of why we need John McCain in the White House next year. McCain will straighten out all the messes of the past and bring REAL CHANGE to the way we deal with hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Any problems in our government John McCain will be to the rescue.

McCain/Palin 2008

Posted by: Don | September 14, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Leigh -- The smoking was just a parting observation of mine. Everyone's welcome to their vices. But seemed like a bizarre time to smoke while being interviewed on TV just after being saved, and after just having unnecessarily put the rescuers' lives at stake.

The motorcycle analogy makes no sense at all. Nowhere did I say we should be denying help to anyone, whether it's a hurricane victim who stayed behind despite being told to evacuate, or someone in a motorcycle accident. And there are ways to ride a motorcycle safely.

Posted by: Dan, Capital Weather Gang | September 14, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Don't see anything wrong with charging people for rescue. In AZ, they have a law called "stupid motorist law". People who drive into a flooded stream or river are billed for their own rescue. This could prove to be an incentive to leave during a mandatory evacuation.

I watched the interview mentioned in the article. I was taken aback by the lack of remorse and concern for human life including his own... and then there was the cigarette.

Posted by: rg | September 14, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Those Crystal Beach photos show evidence of much longer-term poor planning than simply not evacuating when asked. Sand moves, the ocean rises and falls, and erosion and storm damage happen. WHY are people allowed to build so close to the water?

England has decided as a nation not to fight rising sea levels and is allowing historic buildings, and even entire towns, to be taken by the ocean. If only we could have such foresight.

Posted by: rallycap | September 14, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse


Your comment about his smoking was incredibly inappropriate and assinine. But since you brought it up, keep in mind that:
(1) Statistically, the risk of death from smoking is miniscule and very far in the future compared to the forecast of "certain death" that Homeland Security had issued for the residents who chose to stay behind in Galveston and other evacuated areas.
(2) What if it turns out that cell phones cause brain tumors, as some investigators suspect? Are you going to stand in judgment of those "idiots" who just got rescued and immediately call their friends and family on a cell phone?
(3) All the public hysteria about the unhealthiness is grotesquely blown out of proportion compared to other health issues. It's all a matter of relative percentages, and although many smokers will get ill from serious diseases associated with smoking, many millions of others won't, and thousands of people who have never smoked or lived with smoking or asbestos or any other risk factor will still get lung cancer anyways. At a time when obesity and diabetes levels are through the roof, and our national average life expectancy is actually going down because of it.
(4) His smoking at that moment is perfectly natural for a smoker. When I used to smoke, I would often have a cigarette precisely at the most stressful times , e.g., in order to keep myself from physically attacking my passive-aggressive cryptosadist supervisor at my former dysfunctional workplace. I now have a wonderful job with a great boss and have quit smoking for 4 years... BUT that is my choice! That is what all of you anti-smoking mini-tyrants don't seem to understand with your irrational hostility toward smokers.
(5) Hostile, preachy, judgmental, healthier-than-thou attitudes about smoking never helped one single smoker to quit. They just make the smoker want to smoke even more. I know from experience.
(6) Perhaps you would prefer a screening process after natural disasters, in which emergency teams would be spared the unnecessary work of having to rescue anybody who's eaten unwashed produce, eaten a deep-fried twinkie on a stick, driven a car while talking on a cell phone or text-messaging, had unprotected sex in the last 12 months, crossed a street outside of crosswalk stripes.
(7) Not everybody in the world plans everything they're going to do according to whether or not they're going to be in front of a camera. Some people are actually the same person, regardless of whether or not they're in front of the media. (This concept is probably very foreign to you and Paris Hilton).

Posted by: J. Kosta | September 14, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

So the villification of personal choice intensifies.
Suddenly smoking is the worst thing you can do. I'd say the worst thing is rescuing the numbskulls, if we allow nature to kill the stupid people we will all be wiser and safer. If someone wants to smoke that is there choice, some people seem immune from problems of smoking, most don't. It's still up to them not the fatherland to decide. I have had it up to here with a government that wants to tell me what I can smoke, eat, or drink, what I can view on my tv or computer, what I can read, and what I should think, what names I can call someone and why I need to pee in a cup to get a job. How about leaving us alone to make our own world, to make our own decisions, to make mistakes and learn by them. Oh and I'm really sick of the government charging me 33% of all I earn for the privilege of telling me how to live.

Hurricanes, wish one would go thru D.C.

Posted by: Free Once | September 14, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Dan never said we should deny people rescue. However, they should have evacuated. They didn't, so they should get billed for the poor decision (unless some compelling evidence can be shown they had no means to evacuate).

I'm all for it. We need to cut away at this deficit anyways!

Posted by: jtf | September 14, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I am an alumni of the Rita Evacuation in 2005 and the Floyd Evacuation in 1999. The evacuations were awful - in both cases it took me 14 hours to get about 70 miles inland and I had to sleep in the car overnight.

I was lucky - both storms turned at the last minute, which fortunately left me a house to return home to..

That said, what can be said of the collective judgement of thousands of people that live on a barrier island 10' above sea level, and despite dire warnings they made the choice to stay?

If the eye would not have turned north just prior to landfall, we could all be reading about more fatalities than the great hurricane of 1900.

Is this what its going to take to get people to come to their senses and realize that a part of living along the gulf and east coasts means you're simply going to have to endure terrible evacuations every few years? Its a lot better than getting seriously injured or worse.

Galvestonians are a proud people but with pride comes responsibility.

Posted by: N. Asplund - Ft Worth, TX | September 14, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

do we know how high the surge was at Crystal Beach?

Posted by: jeffc | September 14, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Jeffc, I've been trying to find that out too - can't find the stats anywhere yet. The mainstream media all seems to be running essentially the same stories. There aren't many details, most of it is fluff.

I have no sympathy for those who decided to wait out the storm and didn't heed the order to evacuate. I'd almost bet money that the majority of them were dumb dems!!!

Posted by: ron | September 14, 2008 6:18 PM | Report abuse

You can make points without calling people names. I have a couple of observations. First - houses - whether flimsy (as most of these were) or not should not be built so close to storm surge prone areas (at least if they're subsidized by federal flood insurance).

Two - people with special needs - whether as a result of age or disability or poverty - should not live in coastal areas where hurricane evacuations to distant areas are probable. To the extent that they do live in these areas (like they do in my state - Florida) - government should provide help in evacuations (from everything I saw on the news - Texas officials did that here). However - government cannot be expected to evacuate people to pleasant surroundings (think of a high school with 1000 cots) - which is why the elderly or infirm shouldn't live in places so near the coast. Children should help elderly parents when a storm like this threatens - but that rarely happens in Florida (because the kids are usually many miles away).

And people who can evacuate early (the elderly and retired - people who can take off from work - afford hotels - etc.) should. Although - based on my experience - it is easier to ski in Florida than to pry an elderly person from his oceanfront condo when a hurricane is approaching.

Note that it takes approximately 2-3 days to evacuate a major US city - and that evacuations should be completed at least 24 hours before a storm is expected to make landfall. Meteorologists can't make very accurate hurricane predictions in that time-frame. So - if one lives in a high risk area - you will probably evacuate many times when - in retrospect - you will have considered it unnecessary.

Mandatory evacuation means mandatory evacuation. TPTB have always made it simple for me. Whenever there was a mandatory evacuation - the condos I lived in turned off the lights - and the water - withdrew all employees from the premises - and said "good luck" - you're on your own. There is no reason towns can't do the same (except perhaps for turning off individual propane tanks).

People who decide to stay during hurricanes - even if they aren't under mandatory evacuations - must be prepared to live "off the grid" for an absolute minimum of 3 days (I would recommend 5).

FWIW - after 35 years in Florida - my motto is "evacuate early and often". And the only thing worse than evacuating unnecessarily in bad traffic (like during Hurricane Floyd when we were living in NE Florida) was evacuating before Hurricane Andrew (when we lived in Dade County) and coming back and finding a total disaster. Note that after our hurricane experiences -especially with Andrew - I am not sure why people think that the government will be able to deliver "meals on wheels" a day or two after a really bad storm and restore power immediately. After Andrew - we were without power and water for almost a month - and friends a little south were without power for 6-12 months. No cable TV for 1-2 years. We had the military airlifting supplies to far south Dade from a helicopter pad at a hospital we could see from our windows for almost a year. Anyway - I trust this will give all of you some food for thought. RG

Posted by: RG | September 14, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

As far as getting a hefty bill...I'm sure the fact that they no longer have a home, job, or livelihood anymore is payment enough!
I find it interesting that Katrina was a tragedy...when those people ignored warnings to leave, but the people of Galveston are stupid because they didn't leave. Everyone rushed to New Orleans to offer assistance and had sympathy for them, but you want the people of Galveston to foot the bill because they didn't evacuate? How very interesting...

Posted by: Val from Southeast Texas | September 14, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Wow. First, this is America. any criticism is appropriate, even those being critical of the critical. It does get a bit ridiculous though. So the moron was smoking, big deal. He has an addiction and needed to feed it immediately following a time of great stress. I expect he'll have another when the bill comes.

No one, NO ONE has the right to selfishly put the fire and rescue folks to undue risk, period. Those in the predicted landfall zone should have left. I am sure it is a heart rending decision but it should not be a difficult one. Life can suck and we don't always get the things we want; get over it, pack a bag or two, and hit the road.

Here in Michigan, we bill those who cause fires, strand themselves in the Lakes, or find themselves in other, preventable situations requiring rescue. Texas should do so too. It may be very difficult to collect but the bills need to go out nonetheless.

As for those who would defend this idiocy, please PLEASE do not move to a river's flood plain or a coastal residence; your nation cannot afford you to do so. find a nice place high on a hill far away from the windy plains, roaring seas, or wintery north. Try France.

Posted by: The Real Don | September 14, 2008 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Hi Val - I had perhaps a bit more sympathy for the people in New Orleans - because its evacuation plans for the elderly and infirm and poor were FUBAR. I remember it precisely - because I was on a weekend vacation close to home here in Florida - was checking on line to make sure Katrina wouldn't do a Hurricane Charley across the Florida peninsula - and when I saw Mayor Nagin not ordering a mandatory evacuation on Saturday - I thought he was nuts.

That said - it is even more stupid IMO to rebuild those parts of New Orleans that are below sea level than it would be to rebuild the Gulf Coast coastal barrier islands that have been obliterated in this storm (especially with taxpayer dollars). RG

Posted by: RG | September 14, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Val, my dear... the reason for the different attitudes towards Katrina versus Ike victims is that Ike victims know the HISTORY of what happened with Katrina. Why wasn't that obvious to you?


As far as getting a hefty bill...I'm sure the fact that they no longer have a home, job, or livelihood anymore is payment enough!
I find it interesting that Katrina was a tragedy...when those people ignored warnings to leave, but the people of Galveston are stupid because they didn't leave. Everyone rushed to New Orleans to offer assistance and had sympathy for them, but you want the people of Galveston to foot the bill because they didn't evacuate? How very interesting...

Posted by: Val from Southeast Texas | September 14, 2008 7:17 PM

Posted by: MK | September 14, 2008 7:58 PM | Report abuse

This headline is a perfect example of the tunnel-vision that most everyone in major media is suffering from.

Maybe a different landfall position would have been worse for GALVESTON, but how bout the thousands of people living just a bit up the coast?

The story right now is the damage that WAS caused and the people that ARE suffering.

Later, we can discuss what-ifs.

and Val...

If you had visited this site in the past few weeks, you'd see the same ignorance-laced posts about the Katrina victims.

But it is still very silly to ignore evacuation orders... in many cases, these are people who simply chose to stay... why?

Posted by: Ken | September 14, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

I should add that the Katrina victim-bashing was done by visitors to the site, not by its operators.

Posted by: Ken | September 14, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Thank God that the hurricane season is going to be over soon so this site won't pop first on Google and attract every nutcase in the country.

Posted by: Laurie | September 14, 2008 9:11 PM | Report abuse

I seriously hope Karen from Davenport was joking about her post, perhaps to show how stupid some of the criticism has been. From the lack of reaction of her post, either you all recognize her 'joking' OR all have agreed with her. I wouldn't want to wish that upon anyone (the race/income card). You could easily say that every eldery person in the affected states should be erased from the gene pool. That is just awful.
Re: smoker - Who really cares? It's his life. If he offends anyone with second-hand smoke, then it should be between those people.
Re: mandatory evacuation and billing people for rescues - Once again, who cares? Those people chose to stay for one reason or another. They are on their own. If rescue operations can commence in a safe manner, then good. There should be no reason to risk the rescuer lives. I'm sure the water levels will recede in a few days so that there will not be a need to rescue people. If they are dead, then they are dead. They were warned.
RE: Politics - I seriously doubt McCain would do anything spectactular that would prevent this catastrophe from occuring. I don't know why people want to mention politics, unless they feel he will enact capital punishment for the stupid people that ignore warnings and put their lives (and others) at risk. I don't think you can teach the ignorants.

Posted by: Eric in D.C. | September 14, 2008 9:14 PM | Report abuse

jeffc, reports from KHOU indicate the surge level was about 12-14 feet across the Bolivar Peninsula. That's enough to overwash the whole thing.

Posted by: Ian, Capital Weather Gang | September 14, 2008 9:17 PM | Report abuse

It occurred to me that we should salute the tremendous pluck of people in Galveston. They have been there before, and have survived. If there is anything the rest of American can do to help, I'm all for it.

The problem with these emergency management folks is that they are legends in their own time. What happened with Rita proved that. If they were any good at police work, they would be police officers; if they were any good at fire fighting, they would be firefighters; if they were popular and had the political ability to move a crowd, they would be elected to something.

No, along with Homeland Security, Emergency Management directors fancy themselves as 'experts' who plan for the worst, but say they hope for the best. In fact, they hope for the worst because they want powerful people in their community to come crawling to ask them what they should do - and the pay and benefits of not doing much for 50 of the 52 weeks of the year. Yes, we have been told we can't live without the office of emergency management - local, state and federal. But no storm behaves as expected. Piles of clothing were left to rot in Louisiana, water never reached those who needed it; trailers sat unoccupied, and the ones that were the residents later sued the government for exposure to formaldehyde.

Nothing personal (and they will all take it that way because one thing emergency planners hate is anyone who is not an emergency planner criticizing their emergency plan; a plan which, come hell and high water will be implemented no matter how poorly it works, and then emergency planners will take all the credit for masterful 'adaption' to the actual need) but a lot of these people would have a hard time keeping track of all the shopping carts in the local Kwikee Mart parking lot.

If a big hurricane is comin, Tex, why you just sit tight and batten down if that is your choice. And have a smoke. I'm sure you didn't expect any emergency workers to risk their own lives to get to you. When the water recedes, you can just walk out in your muddy cowboy boots.

Posted by: WillOWisp | September 14, 2008 9:26 PM | Report abuse

OK people, this is a comments section, not your personal blog. It would take me all evening to read all of this long-windedness.

So anyway, according to the IR satellite, it looks like the cloud cover from the front is already getting here, like the rain (if we get any) is going to happen tonight or tomorrow morning.

Am I looking at it wrong or might things cool off a little sooner than expected?

Posted by: Laura in NWDC | September 14, 2008 9:30 PM | Report abuse

I felt bad for the lady who was killed when the tree fell on her house. But then I saw CNN, and there was an ashtray on her front porch. She might have been smoking, even smoking in bed. That tree might have prevented her from setting not only her house on fire, but the whole neighborhood. And what if there had been a gas leak? Why, that old oak might have been the real hero here.

Posted by: WillOWisp | September 14, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Laura, I hope things cool off soon. Our air conditioning unit is on the fritz and we are only running it at 80 or 82. A cool-down is most welcome.

Posted by: Murre | September 14, 2008 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Wow, one cigarette offends you? What if he was a gal breast-feeding a baby?

Posted by: Scred | September 14, 2008 9:38 PM | Report abuse

OK, Dan, I just read the rest of your post, and I don't know. That last part sounded no different than the comments that have been clogging this website since it went live on Google news.

And I'm not the kind of reader who complains about slightly political posts about things like climate change. Posts of that nature generally start some intelligent, enjoyable discussion.

This wasn't the same thing, though. I think the last part of your post might be better classified as "rant" than "analysis."

If I have to sift through page-long rants that take up the comments section every time there is severe weather, I'd rather not have to sift through it in the CWG's posts.

There's my two cents. Now go forth and keep being awesome!

Posted by: Laura in NWDC | September 14, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, you folks are obsessed with the smoking comment. I don't have a problem with smokers, as long as I don't have to breathe in their smoke. And someone who smokes deserves as much help or compassion as someone who doesn't. I realize that for this guy, smoking was probably a comfort after a stressful experience. But the way it came off on TV is here is a guy showing no remorse after endangering his own life and that of emergency responders, and to top it off he's picked this moment to indulge in a cigarette. Putting it all together, the overall image was one of complete selfishness. Take the cigarette out of the equation and I'd still feel the same.

Posted by: Dan, Capital Weather Gang | September 14, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Laura -- Thx for the comment, and for your continued participation. We love our loyal regulars like yourself ... I agree it was totally a rant. But we're allowed every once in a while, aren't we?

Posted by: Dan, Capital Weather Gang | September 14, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Dan, you're right, you're allowed to rant. And the CWG is so good at what you do, I'd even go so far as to say you're ENTITLED.

How about a rant about how hot it was today? Or about how smelly my armpits are today? Well I guess the beauty of an internet community is that you don't know about my warm-weather smelliness.

Except that I just told you. Whoops.

Posted by: Laura in NWDC | September 14, 2008 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Laura in NWDC and Murre: Seems like we had September in August here, and now we're having August in September!

Posted by: ~sg | September 14, 2008 10:42 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about "everyone" but I agreed with her posting-

I seriously hope Karen from Davenport was joking about her post, perhaps to show how stupid some of the criticism has been. From the lack of reaction of her post, either you all recognize her 'joking' OR all have agreed with her.

Posted by: Tom | September 14, 2008 10:51 PM | Report abuse

If Americans were not addicted to the dumb automobile, moving hundreds of thousands of people would not be such an idiotic option.
These are more than major inconveniences, being trapped on a highway with your family, for hour after hour after hour. This showed a TOTAL lack of our society’s imagination. I mean TOTAL. Average speed - one third of a mile per hour - in the 21st Century? This was the ludicrous option that the unfortunate people in Galveston faced.
These are items that the $$$Bloated$$$ National Security Bureaucracy should have in place – systems to safely and quickly move millions of people. The money we waste!
I only hope that people realize soon that cars are not a reasonable solution.

Henry Ford said that he wished that he had never created mass assembly lines, that the automobile was a regrettable mistake, and later he did not allow any cars on his island estate. Until now, I never even mentioned the daily carnage.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

It's getting windy out there! And birds keep flying into my window!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 15, 2008 12:06 AM | Report abuse

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