Update [2005-9-22 18:55:54 by bigdaddyTX]:
Thank you all for your advice, concerns and prayers. We very much appreciate it.
It's looking like the I-45 contra-laning is starting to work, so we are now planning to make a go for it at around 9 PM tonight. We have two vehicles on 3/4ths of a tank, so if the traffic will at least move at like 30 mph or better, we should have a better than even chance of getting to Huntsville and maybe find more fuel in that region. It's our best hope to leave, and we're willing to try.
If we hit half a tank w/o meaningful results, we'll turn back.
Again, thanks for the kind words and advice. - BD
I live in Houston... to be exact, on the NW side near Jersey Village. I am here with my wife, my daughter, her boyfriend, and my infant grandson.
And we are trapped.
I didn't want to be one of those people standing on the roof of my house, holding up signs written in my own excrement screaming "Help Us" to the TV cameras. I didn't want to be one of those who insisted on sticking it out for reasons of ego, avarice or whatever.
But all routes out of Houston are now at a dead stop. We planned to leave the city early this morning using back routes that lay between I-45 and US 290 - the standard evacuation routes for our region - in hopes of avoiding the crush of traffic on the freeways. That did not work. We took 3 hours to move maybe 10 miles; we took only 20 minutes to return home. Barring some miracle where suddenly the roads clear up again (and even with opening all lanes northbound, I do not expect that to happen), we will be staying now.
Ironically, it was a relief knowing that we were no longer going to fight with 2 million other Texans for hundreds of miles on end. But now the sense of doom is setting in, as we now turn our attention to survival rather than escape. It feels like being on the Titanic before it goes down, only in slow motion and under a 90 degree Texas sun.
I definitely had other plans.
Even before Rita crashed past Key West (a wonderful town, I'm glad they were spared Rita's worst), I was making careful plans to escape to Oklahoma, where Ms. BigDaddyTX and I grew up. There, the worst thing we would have had to deal with was having to crash on old couches and uncomfortable daybeds at my mother-in-law's humble home near Tulsa. She was more than ready to receive us, as were several friends of ours across Oklahoma, as was a longstanding musician friend of mine over in Austin.
It was not meant to be.
So we have returned home, a place that for years meant comfort and safety, but now feels like it's pushing the breath out of me as the clock runs down. We have hit all the local grocery stores and stocked up on ANYTHING we could find to eat and drink to add to what we already had in place. I have been trying to diet for years without much success, but it now appears that I may get to find out how to lose weight living on water, 7-Up and snack foods I have avoided for years.
Our house withstood TS Allison in 2001, but we have no confidence in it surviving the likes of Rita with hurricane force winds. So thankfully we have made arrangements to ride out the storm at a friend's house nearby, who has a reasonably sturdy 2 story building that supposedly survived Hurricane Alicia back in the 80s. He's a stalwart Bush fan; I don't even like to hear his voice, much less that smirky grin of his... but we've been friends for about 10 years and we've taken turns helping each other out of crunches before, so it's all good. We're not just friends this weekend; we're a tribe, each looking out for the other.
As I sit here at home, waiting for Zero Hour to arrive, I am whiling away the time watching TV. I should be sleeping, but I can't so I decided to phone it in to dKos.
Local news is repeating stuff over and over with little change, they and the Weather Channel are happily broadcasting the usual Tropical Storm Porn: reporters going on about how dangerous this storm is while treating the storm like it was the X Games or some kind of triathalon. Sitting here waiting for the bomb named Rita to drop, those scenes disgust me.
Governor Goodhair was on TV a little while ago, reassuring millions of people stuck in their cars that they've made the right decision putting themselves on a concrete ribbon rolling north at 4 mph while a Category 5 hurricane approaches at 10 mph. He didn't look like he had a clue, as usual.
I haven't seen anyone from FEMA on the air so far, but I don't expect much from them either, given their atrocious performance over in New Orleans. The fact that Michael Brown won't be at the control's is cold comfort to me now, given the situation we're in. I haven't seen Bush either (thankfully), but I have to hope he will be doing much more than clearing brush and having mountain bike accidents up in Crawford over the next couple of weeks. But I'm not putting our trust in them either way; they will have to show me not through words but through decisive action that they can get it done before I will say the words "well done" in association with their names. As it is, I wish Clinton was in office instead - hell, I wish I could click a pair of ruby slippers and teleport my family out of here, but wishes don't count for too much now.
We plan to sleep here tonight and lay in provisions over there tomorrow AM, and hope for the best. We will be taking the family dog, but our cat, who must be s feeling the fear in the house, is hiding out somewhere, so we may have to leave him behind and that pains me. I will be taking a couple of family heirlooms but nothing bigger than my 60s Fender Stratocaster 12-string or heavier than the CPU I am now using to write this to you. The furniture and other stuff will have to rough it; it can be replaced.
If I make through Rita and can get back online, I will check back in and let you know how everything went. But in the meantime I have 3 requests:
- Pray for me and my family (atheists can wish us luck instead). It might make a difference, and we can use all the help we can get. (Feel free to send a chopper to my house if you happen to have one handy... j/k)
- Do all you can to encourage officials to do the right thing by everyone in this disaster-to-be, no matter who they are. I saw faces of every color and from every walk of life on the highway this morning, and we're all human and we all need help. Race, creed, color, nationality, economic class... none of that matters to me today. I'll be a partisan Democrat again sometime later if God grants us the privilege of surviving this storm, but for now I'm just an American staring down one of the worst storms to ever hit this country.
- Do all you can to elect officials who are willing to help the American people - not just those in distress from disaster, but also those who suffer every day - and kick out those who put ideology over humanity, who trade in racism instead of humanism, who have the audacity to remain indifferent to the suffering others in this country face.
Thanks for letting me share this with you, take care and as the Irish toast says, "may sunshine and happiness surround you in all your days".
I love you all.
With the Booyah Tribe
Houston, TX USA