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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

When is the right time to evacuate?

I don't think you'll ever get a definite answer to the question “when is it proper to evacuate?" I believe if we were in the direct path of a category five hurricanes; well, over 97% of us would be on a road out of Victoria. I used the 97% figure because that's how many people evacuated from Atlantic City, New Jersey, before the arrival of Sandy.

I remember sitting around the break room talking with everyone about their upcoming hurricane plans. Some of our part-time rancher/farmers said they had to stay to take care of their livestock before, and after a storm. Others wanted to ride it out, so they could get a heads-up on returning things to normalcy as quick as possible after the storm. Our resident bay rats (fellow coworkers from Seadrift and Pt. Lavaca) used to mock us for making hotel reservations while the hurricane was still three days out.

Long time Victoria residents usually consider themselves hurricane veterans. We were the ones telling the transplanted Texans the ins and outs of hurricane preparedness. I remember back in the 80s, an engineer from Missouri, making as all laugh because he brought out a pretty impressive colored map with the precise coordinates of when, and where the hurricane(still a couple of days out) would make landfall. We all reminded him that Hurricane Alicea was supposed to hit Pt. Comfort, and the Houston weather stations were keeping us informed; that is until the storm change directions and headed for them and Galveston. Things have changed because today landfall can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy.

I can remember riding out hurricanes like Carla, Beulah, and Celia (two of them; I didn't have much choice) but if anything resembles a category four heading our way; we're heading in the opposite direction or out of range. I'll take the kidding that I received from a neighbor because we fled to Port Isabel to get away from Rita. I remember getting back in town and seeing it was just like we left it, but before I could pull into the driveway, my neighbor let me know that we didn't get a drop of rain. I told him to go back inside and eat his sardines and crackers and other perishables that he stored up for the storm.

It still gives me the shivers when a governor tells those who decide to ride out a hurricane that first responders will not come to their rescue during the storm. I can understand the seriousness of the order, but I've seen many cases where heroes helped the stubborn anyway. Then there are some people who will hunker down each and every time and would never think of evacuating.


born2Bme said...

I doubt we would evacuate because we have about 17 cats to take care of, and my husband would never leave them to fend for themselves and you just can't pack up that many cats and leave.
We both lived through Carla and if we made it through that one, then probably be able to ride out others.
It's been proven that the storm surge is the major threat to life and I don't think that would get to us.
I think Katrina has just scared people unnecessarily. The devastation happened because of the location, not necessarily anything else.
Remember when communities took care of their own and opened shelters at churches, schools, and other places around town?
To me, everyone getting out onto the highways in a panic, is a recipe for a disaster right there. It's better to be at home instead of trapped out on the roads when the storm rolls in.

Mike said...

Points taken but I don't think people were unnecessarily scared in New Orleans... The levees were breached and caused massive flooding... I agree the storm surge is a major threat but downed power lines and being without power is something I can do without.

I've got to give Guv Perry his props because he learned from the first traffic disaster in Houston.. I believe they had their inlet and exit lanes coordinated during the last hurricane response and it worked flawlessly... I had some relatives caught up in the traffic disaster that Rita caused. The key is leaving early enough to avoid the traffic jams.

Communities still have shelters and good Samaritans are still around to help the first responders with the evacuation but it's nice to know that FEMA and its many resources can be on their way if needed.

Mike said...

Why don't they stay away and why does the media seek them?

Who takes the worse FEMA director in history seriousl?

"Michael Brown, the former FEMA director infamously praised by President George W. Bush for doing a "heckuva job" during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, told a local paper that President Barack Obama acted too quickly in mobilizing relief for Superstorm Sandy.