Friday, September 30, 2005

"Control of the Internet" Update

Since I am on the subject of updates of old posts, I just read an article that makes me feel a little better about another topic that bothers me. That is the issue of who should be in control of the Internet.

A senior U.S. official rejected calls on Thursday for a U.N. body to take over control of the main computers that direct traffic on the Internet, reiterating U.S. intentions to keep its historical role as the medium's principal overseer.

The article goes on to say that some countries are complaining about the lack of addresses, but let's get real here for a second. I'm certainly not an expert on the workings of the internet, but I don't really think that there are a lack of addresses. Certainly, there is a limit to the number of .com websites that are possible, but that doesn't mean that new domains can't be created. As it is there are already plenty.

The real issue I see as paramount here is that of free and open speech. It is already disturbing enough that Yahoo! acted in cooperation with the Communist Chinese government in jailing a journalist. I don't even want to imagine the potential loss of freedoms if the Internet was governed by individuals that wanted to limit political debate. Conspiracy theorists can say what they will about our Patriot Act, but none can deny that we have a society very open to the expression of various opinions.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Wright Amendment Update

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the ridiculous Wright Amendment and over the course of the summer, I wrote several emails to my Congressional representatives here in Tennessee. I was cleaning up my room the other day and I came across this letter that I received back in July from none other than Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

This hasn't changed my opinion of the fight to repeal Wright in any way. It only further solidifies that money this case it is lobbyist money.

The idea that DFW Airport, an airport that is larger than the island of Manhattan, needs to be protected from tiny Love Field is ludicrous. There might have been a time for the Wright Amendment to protect the fledgling DFW, but that time has long since past. The truth is that American Airlines and DFW are afraid to try to compete with Southwest Airlines, an airline that can offer affordable flights to almost anywhere in the country...that is of course unless you are trying to get to or from Dallas via a state that does not border Texas.

I hate to throw around unproven allegations, but the inner cynic in me thinks that perhaps Bill Frist is more concerned with dumping some stock than he is with my and others' concern about this protectionist law that should have been taken off the books years ago.

Wright Is Wrong! Set Love Free!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Google Cosmos

Google is planning to expand offices by building a new campus at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. Good for Google and good for the country at large. Here's to hoping that Google can teach NASA a thing or two about running an efficient business!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Disaster Declaration

From the Lafayette Daily Advertiser:

Lafayette, Iberia and Acadia parishes have been added to the federal disaster declaration, qualifying individuals for federal assistance in the wake of Hurricane Rita, said Amy Jones, spokesperson for Congressman Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette.

Roxi called me with the news this afternoon so I verified it and let my dad know. My parents might qualify considering the extent of the damage to their roof and house. It hasn't been appraised yet but I do know that the removal of the trees alone was very costly. Although my parents do have insurance that will most likely cover the damages to the house, any little bit of help will be nice in case the insurance company drags out the processing of their claim for more than a few days.

More on those over-reported rumors from New Orleans...

The LA Times has printed an article further discussing the story in yesterday's Times-Picayune which I commented on. I only thought I had heard some of the rumors and false reports out of the Superdome, but others from the New Orleans area included some of the following:

The wild rumors filled the vacuum and seemed to gain credence with each retelling - that an infant's body had been found in a trash can, that sharks from Lake Pontchartrain were swimming through the business district, that hundreds of bodies had been stacked in the Superdome basement.

Fox News, a day before the major evacuation of the Superdome began, issued an "alert" as talk show host Alan Colmes reiterated reports of "robberies, rapes, carjackings, riots and murder. Violent gangs are roaming the streets at night, hidden by the cover of darkness."

The Los Angeles Times adopted a breathless tone the next day in its lead news story, reporting that National Guard troops "took positions on rooftops, scanning for snipers and armed mobs as seething crowds of refugees milled below, desperate to flee. Gunfire crackled in the distance."

The tabloid Ottawa Sun reported unverified accounts of "a man seeking help gunned down by a National Guard soldier" and "a young man run down and then shot by a New Orleans police officer."

London's Evening Standard invoked the future-world fantasy film "Mad Max" to describe the scene and threw in a "Lord of the Flies" allusion for good measure.

And it this hyperbole of less-than-factual reporting wasn't limited to major news media. In fact it might have been picked up by major news media because of comments like this:

[Mayor Ray] Nagin and Police Chief Eddie Compass appeared on "Oprah" a few days after trouble at the Superdome had peaked.

Compass told of "the little babies getting raped" at the Superdome. And Nagin made his claim about hooligans raping and killing.

I know that this was a unique disaster situation, but Mayor Nagin was a little prone to throughout the crisis.

But the most striking part of this article is where blame for the rumors is placed.

Times-Picayune Editor Jim Amoss cited telephone breakdowns as a primary cause of reporting errors, but said the fact that most evacuees were poor African Americans also played a part.

"If the dome and Convention Center had harbored large numbers of middle class white people," Amoss said, "it would not have been a fertile ground for this kind of rumor-mongering."

I ask the questions again: Who really hates the poor blacks in this country? Is it the Bush Administration or is it the media who had no problem characterizing them in such a stereotypical light?

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Trees Are Gone

I spoke with my dad earlier this evening and he told me that there has been "a flurry of activity around the house today." It all started in the morning when he, my mom and my brother pulled up the carpet in my old bedroom and threw away water damaged things from the attic. But it apparently really got going when the tree crew arrived at 4:00 PM and went to work. They used a crane to move the trees off the house and then several workers with chainsaws cut them apart. By the time I had talked to my dad at 7:30 this evening, he and Garrett had patched the holes in the roof with the help of my uncle and cousin. I have to say that I am impressed that things were able to move so quickly. The way my dad was talking last night, it sounded like the process might take a week or two. I plan on posting new pictures of the roof damage when Garrett has a chance to send them.

For all you conspiracy theorists out there....

Hot Tip: Hurricane Katrina was created by the Japanese Yakuza using Russian technology as revenge for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

And I suppose by that logic, Hurricane Rita is probably payback for the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

To order aluminum foil hats and learn more about weatherman Scott Stevens' "theories" of climatological manipulation, check out his website,

Did Sensational Media Cost More Lives Than Reported Mayhem?

In an ever increasing tendency to report first and check facts weeks later, the New Orleans Times-Picayune Breaking News Blog is refuting stories that horrified the world when journalists reported that hundreds of people were raped and murdered in the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina. The final death toll at the Superdome: 6. That is s-i-x. Not six hundred, or sixty, but rather six. On top of that four died of natural causes, one of a drug overdose and one of a suicide. That brings the total number of murdered people to zero. That's not to say that there were no murders of those people stranded in New Orleans. Of the four (that's right, only four) deaths at the New Orleans Convention Center, only one is suspected to be a murder.

From Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit:
APPARENTLY, THE PRESS'S PERFORMANCE DURING KATRINA wasn't any better than the governments involved. At least, this Times-Picayune report says that the reports of death and destruction were wildly exaggerated. This is significant, not least because false reports of mayhem may have slowed rescue efforts over concerns with security. In addition, portrayal of New Orleans as lawless and debauched is likely to feed reluctance to rebuild.

So let's recap here. Ten people died in the Superdome and Convention Center while waiting for rescue. My intent is not to minimize the human suffering of those people stranded in the city after Katrina. It is to point out just how wrong the "infallible" media was. Why would they believe that human beings would regress to this Lord of the Flies mentality immediately? Who really hates the poor? Is it the Bush Administration or is it the media who had no problem characterizing them in such a stereotypical light?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Four years after September 11, 2001 and we still don't have one of these?

I was reading some headlines on the Houston Chronicle Hurricane Rita website and was pretty shocked to see this:

Military officials told President Bush today that the U.S. needs a national plan to coordinate search and rescue efforts following natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

Seriously? I mean it has been four years and fourteen days since the World Trade Center was destroyed and no one has created a national plan to coordinate search and rescue? I am all for states rights and minimal federal government, but large scale disasters and terrorists attacks will need a better management strategy than presently exists. Things like this and this shouldn't happen during an emergency.

My Parents' Return To Lafayette

My dad just called to tell me that he and my mom have just arrived at the house in Lafayette. His first comment was that he is amazed that the house didn't get flattened. He said the trees look even larger in person.

The drive back was fairly easy for them considering the amount of destruction along I-10 and the large number of people returning to Houston. They took backroads from College Station to The Woodlands where they rendezvoused with Jan and Jordan, Danielle's mom and sister. The two cars then traveled down the temporarily-free Hardy Toll Road to I-10. From I-10 they traveled east continuously except for through Lake Charles. There they had to take the I-210 bypass as the I-10 bridge over the Calcasieu River is closed with possible damage.

My mom did comment on the major destruction in Beaumont along I-10. All entrance and exit ramps through Beaumont were closed. She also remarked on the large numbers of military convoys driving along I-10 with food and water.

So now my parents are safe and sound in Lafayette for at least a night. I can't imagine them turning right around and heading for Houston again tomorrow, but perhaps they will so that they can get back to work on Tuesday.

It's still September, right?

I was just out doing some grocery shopping and was dumbfounded when I saw a Christmas tree nestled in among the Halloween costumes.

Come on!

Let's throttle back a little. If we have to look forward to another holiday, let's only go as far as Thanksgiving right now. Please?

'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and 'Extras'

Tonight is the fifth season premier of Curb Your Enthusiasm followed by the US debut of Extras, Ricky Gervais' follow-up to his hilarious two-season BBC masterpiece, The Office. When I first saw The Office last year, I didn't think anyone could be both funnier and as despicable as Larry David, but Ricky Gervais proved me wrong. He created more hilariously uncomfortable silences than I thought possible and it always left me wanting more. Having Curb Your Enthusiasm and Extras back-to-back might possibly create the most delightfully awkward hour of television ever. And I for one will be there!

Jack and Mary are on the move again

My mom and dad are just about to leave College Station bound for Lafayette. They are going to get a first hand look at the damage to the house so that they can help Garrett manage the repairs better. The alternative is to hang around College Station until their area of Houston is authorized to return on Monday according to the FEMA plan to avoid reverse gridlock. In the conversation we just had, my dad isn't too excited about making this trip for several reasons, the greatest of which is that there might be delays and unknown detours as they attempt to work their way east through towns with flood waters and downed trees. They have been looking for information about road closures along the way and right now it seems like the only real problem might be in Lake Charles were the I-10 bridge is closed because a barge struck the pilings during the hurricane. There is an interstate loop through the city of Lake Charles, but there are potential trouble spots in two places along I-210 although only one of them sounds like it could actually cause a shutdown on the road. So for now, I will be researching the road closures for them and give them any information I can about possible detours if they are needed.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Pictures of the Damage

Garrett was able to send me several pictures of the damages to my parents' house and here are some of the best images.

Here is the collapsed ceiling from two angles:

Right before the ceiling collapsed, Garrett was dumping out 40 gallons of water per hour as it came through the hole in the roof.

Here are the trees from several angles:

From the second picture, you can see the two distinct root systems from the separate trees. However it appears that the tree to right fell and knocked down the tree to the left as it was falling.

Thankfully the majority of both trees fell short of the house only puncturing one spot in the roof. There were several over trees along the property line closer to the house that could have destroyed walls in addition to the roof if they had fallen.

Latest Updates From Louisiana and Texas

I awoke at 11:45 to an email update on the house in Lafayette from my mom. She was obviously unaware that I had heard the news and was including me on the update to everyone else as well. She also went on to include a further clarification to me containing more info.

So here is the story now that Garrett and Nicole have been outside:

Two trees fell on the corner of our house where my room was located. The structural integrity of the house has not been compromised but the room and most everything left in it is probably ruined because the rain hasn't completely stopped. Garrett has been wanting to get in there to clean up the insulation and use a wet/dry vac but the insurance company doesn't want him to do anything but take pictures. Note the insurance company: Garrett didn't pull two trees down so my parents could make a bogus claim!

Internet service has not returned to the house yet but of course as soon as it does, Garrett will send us all pictures. My dad has us on three waiting lists for help from the insurance company, a tree surgeon and the company that takes care of our lawn. Apparently one of our other trees in the front ward was snapped off on the trunk like a twig. Garrett will be moving all of our family photos and his expensive computer equipment to my grandparents' house once it is safe to do so.

Nicole has not been able to reach her family in De Ridder, LA. Her parents had planned to stay there and for a time, Garrett and Nicole were planning to evacuate there but it is almost due north of Lake Charles, LA and my parents and I suggested that they not head into the potential path of the storm as Rita began turning east. De Ridder is pretty far inland and Nicole's parents are most likely fine, but they do not have cell phones and they are most likely without power.

Garrett and Nicole had also contemplated moving east to Baton Rouge, LA to stay with Nicole's sister prior to the storm, but it appears that they fared about the same as Lafayette in terms of high winds and rain. Plus there was the risk that Garrett and Nicole could have gotten stuck on the Atchafalaya Basin portion of I-10. As it turns out, Lafayette was probably the safest place for them despite the damage to the house. In fact, had they not been there, the damage to things stored in my room and other parts of the house would have been considerably worse and many of those things are irreplaceable such as family photographs.

When I spoke to my dad this morning, he had already spoken to Danielle's dad, Karl, who said that things were fine in The Woodlands, but they have lost power. Karl is now driving Danielle's grandmother back down to the Friendswood area so that she can get back to her house. My aunt, uncle and cousin who left Spring, TX for the Austin area are now heading back home as well.

As far as College Station goes, neither my mom nor dad made any mention of damage in the area. They really want to make the trip over to Lafayette as soon as possible but it might be hard today because of (1) the gas shortage in Houston due to the evacuation and (2) rumors that an overpass on I-10 collapsed near Iowa, LA. There are other more time consuming ways to get to Lafayette, but if this is true, it means that between Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, access to the major interstate artery across south Louisiana has been cut off from from both Texas and Mississippi. To quote my roommate Quinn, "Rita and Katrina are two bitches!"

One last thing my mom mentioned in her email was the way that Garrett and Nicole have been dealing with the damage and responsibility for the house through all of this.

The rain let up for a while and Garrett and Nicole went outside to look at things. Sightseers are driving thru the neighborhood and cars are stopping in front of our house and just looking. Nicole said, "It's like Christmas and our house has the best lights on the block!" I'm amazed as her and Garrett's sense of humor thru-out this harrowing ordeal!!

Amen to that!

Voice of the 13th Generation no longer silenced!

For some reason, although my 8:00 post this morning was published, my blog was unaccessible since about 9:00 this morning. I just woke up about fifteen minutes ago and have worked out the problem and my Voice is no longer silent! Not sure what the problem was but maybe I'm trying to write too much!

Garrett Just Called With Some News

The ceiling of my old bedroom just collapsed under the weight of soaked insulation and sheet rock. However, the walls of the house are stable and the roof is mostly intact above my room.

Although I haven't called that room mine for the past four years, Garrett's friend and Thunderpants bandmate, Scott, has been staying in it occasionally for the past two years. He works out of town so only spends a few weeks at a time in Lafayette and mostly uses the room for storage. He has been out of town since earlier this year.

Garrett and Nicole had been moving things from the bedrooms to the living room for several hours and were able to move all of Scott's personal belongings except for a large antique organ which may suffer some water damage. Garrett had put large containers in my room to collect the water running in through the ceiling and then went up into the attic to investigate. That was when he discovered that the roof damage was worse than he had previously thought.

I misunderstood an earlier email that said the tree was laying beside the house. It actually fell in the front yard and extends in front of about one-third of the house. When Garrett went into the attic he saw a ten foot hole in the roof made by a branch that he said is at least six inches in diameter. As the tree fell, the branch must have torn the hole in the roof allowing water to pour in and soak the insulation. Garrett and Nicole were in the process of emptying the buckets of water when Nicole noticed that the ceiling began to sag. Garrett had just gotten out of the way and started taking more pictures when the ceiling collapsed. He says that he got some pictures as the collapse was happening.

Amazingly, the power is still on at the house although the cable (including the internet) is no longer working. He has set up the wireless network in the living room so that when the cable is restored, they will use Nicole's laptop to access news on the internet and send the pictures they have taken so far. They haven't been outside yet as the winds are still pretty strong but they are trending down a little according the WeatherBug alerts I am receiving. As soon as it is safe to venture outside, they will investigate and photograph any other external damage to the house.

Roof Damage in Lafayette

My mom called me one hour ago at 5:00 AM to tell me that the tree that fell before 12:30 AM had caused some roof damage to the house. Garrett had discovered a leak in the roof that is allowing one to two cups of water per minute to flow into the house between the walls of Travis' room and my room. He and Nicole have moved everything of value (i.e., family pictures and his computer) to the front of the house.

I have spoken to Garrett a couple of times now and we have coordinated shutting off the power to all the bedrooms to reduce the risk of an electrical fire. Although they still have electricity, he moved all of his computer equipment out of his room and has not reconnected. They also no longer have cable TV so they are without news information. I'm not sure how long he and Nicole have been moving things, but he was unaware that Rita has made landfall. From our discussion though, it seems like the worst of it may indeed be over for Lafayette however just as last night's tornado watch was expiring, a new watch was issued through this evening. So that will be the biggest concern over the next several hours.

Garrett plans to survey the damage and take pictures as soon as there is enough daylight and the wind has calmed enough to avoid flying debris. I'm not sure when me family will get to see the pictures seeing as how internet service will be interrupted until cable TV is restored. My mom and dad seem adamant about driving to Lafayette as soon as the "all clear" is given in a day or so. And honestly, it might be better for them to head east for a few days rather than fight more gridlock as 2 million people return to the Houston area later this weekend.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Update From Lafayette

My mom spoke to Garrett at 12:30 AM and said things are going well in Lafayette but we have lost a tree at my parents house and it may have caused some superficial damage to the north wall. Luckily, the tree fell perpendicular to the wall but Garrett said it sounded like some of the branches grazed the roof and wall. He checked the bedrooms on that side of the house but there are no leaks or interior damage. So far the only leak is water getting through the ridge vents in the roof. The vents are there to allow airflow into the attic and help cool the house in the summer. They are positioned so that vertical rain will not fall in, but the wind is pushing the rain horizontally hence the small amounts of water dripping in. Garrett has set up towels and buckets to catch the water as it drips through the attic door.

My dad spoke with my grandfather at about the same time and he and my grandmother are safe and sound in their house, but my aunt and uncle's roof was struck by a branch that has opened a leak. It has apparently caused the ceiling to sag with water.

I also just got off the phone with Roxi and all is well at her grandmother's house. It is very windy and some objects have been hitting the house, but nothing severe has happened. She has been watching the local news reports and feels fairly confident that it won't get much worse for Lafayette except for some flooding of low lying areas. We'll see in a few hours but most of the advisories for Lafayette are scheduled to end sometime in the early morning hours.

I need some sleep though, so I am off to bed for a few hours. I hope to have an update from Lafayette in the morning and pictures from the house as soon as it is safe for Garrett and Nicole to survey any damage.

Lafayette, College Station and The Woodlands Status Update

I have been getting emails from Garrett about conditions in Lafayette and he says that it started getting rough around 8:30 PM with lots of strong wind gusts and rain. A tornado warning has come and gone and many tree limbs have been falling. But power was still on for the entire neighborhood thirty minutes ago when we last had contact. I was speaking to my dad in College Station via cellphone and my dad was talking to Garrett through Google Talk. I could hear Garrett's voice and he sounded to be in good spirits. He and Nicole spent all day today and most of yesterday planning for this and have prepared very well in terms of food and other supplies.

I spoke with Roxi and she confirmed that the wind has picked up and a tree has been knocked over in her aunt's yard but she and her parents aren't too concerned. If forecasts are correct, the hurricane will be making landfall in about two hours and then if it continues on it's present course, Lafayette will be through the worst of it by 6:00 AM.

As far as College Station goes, they are currently seeing stronger wind gusts than Lafayette. But my parents, Travis and Danielle feel pretty secure and well out of the way of the brunt of the storm. They have checked in with Danielle's parents in The Woodlands and they too are doing fine and still had power at least half an hour ago (Rex is a family nickname I inadvertantly got from Danielle's hearing imparied grandmother!). So far so good. It will get worse in a few hours but it really seems to me like this storm might weaken as it is driven onto land. I hope that is the case as it will minimize any damage further inland, but it appears that Port Arthur, Beaumont and Orange,TX as well as Cameron and Lake Charles, LA will suffer the most through the next few hours. Time will tell but I plan to watch most of the night.

A Big Day Amidst The Chaos

Yesterday was a big day for my brother Travis. It was a little overshadowed by my parents' evacuation to College Station, but yesterday Travis received his Aggie Ring!

Ring Day is very exciting for any Aggie because it is such a big personal accomplishment. And as a result of the evacuation, my parents got to see Travis' ring the day he got it! So there is some silver lining.

Here are Travis and Danielle doing the Gig 'Em handsign with their rings: Travis with his Aggie Ring and Danielle with her engagement ring.

The Reason Behind The Madness

Much has been made of the chaos that has happened an continues during the evacuation of Houston, but there are several reasons why this is the case. First and foremost, there has been a saturation of images of destruction and death after Katrina and the population of the greater Houston area is easily four times as large as New Orleans. A strike by a Category 4 hurricane on Houston would be very, very bad for the fourth largest city in the nation.

Part of the reason that my dad was reluctant to leave was that the geography of Houston is so much different than New Orleans. There are no levees and the city is mostly above sea level. Although true, Houston is prone to flooding of a different type if the rain lasts long enough. This brings me to my second and more important point. The city of Houston can and has flooded. As recently as the summer of 2001, Tropical Storm Allison stalled over the city for two days and dumped 37 inches of rain on the Port of Houston in that time.

As you can see from this example and many others, Houston can flood. Even if Rita doesn't cause this kind of flooding, why not try to avoid more chaos in the event that there is a repeat of the flood of 2001?

Bus Explosion and More New Orleans Flooding

I awoke this morning to read the story of a bus explosion outside of Dallas. Up to twenty-four elderly Houston evacuees may have been killed in the explosion. Some authorities have suggested that the explosion might have been caused by oxygen tanks used to assist breathing for some of the elderly patients.

On top of that news, it sounds like the 9th Ward of New Orleans is flooding again. According to the CNN report that I saw on TV about thirty minutes ago, they are expecting up to four feet of water in the area between the flooding over the levees and the rain from Hurricane Rita. Apparently the wind is too strong to dispatch helicopters so they are sending out boats again to try to evacuate anyone who may still be in their homes in the area. Just when it seemed like New Orleans was finally dry, this had to happen.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Jack and Mary are in College Station

After 13 hours and 147 miles, my parents are in College Station and the comfort of Travis and Danielle's apartment. The drive would normally only be about 100 miles but they took some rural roads so it added a little mileage to their trip. Their average speed was 11 miles per hour!!! However, the first 27 miles of the trip took them 8 hours or an average speed of 3.5 miles per hour!!! Despite all the traffic and phone problems during the day, I'm glad that they are in safe refuge for the weekend. Now we all must sit and wait to see where Rita decides to land.

Jack and Mary Check In

I got to talk to my parents about an hour ago and they were still en route to College Station but sounded very alert considering that they were entering their eleventh hour in the car. They still have three-quarters of a tank of gas and about 50 miles between them and Travis and Danielle's apartment. It might take them another ten hours to get there but since they have gotten on a new highway, it sounds like traffic is moving more consistently. And of course they still have The Woodlands option with Danielle's parents. In any event, it sounds like the storm is continuing to drift eastward, so as their trek continues, the threat to the Houston area seems to be diminishing ever so slightly. At this point though, I just want them to be in shelter somewhere. Hopefully by mid-morning tomorrow, they will be.

Stories From The Road

As my parents make there way to College Station via backroads and highways, we've been in contact with every couple of hours. Currently, they have traveled 27 miles in 6 hours. From what they have been hearing on the radio, the contraflow plan is a miserable failure. No cars have moved on I-45 since the southbound lane was opened to northbound traffic. Other stories include people with horse trailers grazing their livestock on the side of gridlocked roads and kids playing in the fountains of subdivisions along the highway. The temperature is 98 degrees without any heat index so cars are starting to overheat as they sit idle on the road. On top of that, there is nowhere to make bathroom stops because all business along the way are closed. Some people are resorting to creating simple shelters between their front and back car doors and letting it rip.

I hate that my parents would not leave Houston last night but I know that I can't dwell on the past. They have enough fuel and time to make it to College Station and of that I am glad. If they had waited any later they would certainly run the risk of being stuck on the road during the hurricane. At least for now, they can always make a determination in the next several hours about whether to continue on to College Station or trek to nearby The Woodlands to stay with Danielle's family. It's good to have the fall back plan but I would feel a lot better if they could get to College Station.

Family and Friends Evacuation Details

I have heard from several of my friends that I attended A&M with and it sounds like everyone's parents and families are safely evacuated. My parents are still in the process but they are taking surface roads through town and are progressing out of Houston rather quickly considering the volume of people leaving. They officially scrapped their plan to get to Lafayette since my brother and his girlfriend might be leaving there this afternoon. My parents are now making the trek to College Station to stay with Travis and Danielle. Meanwhile, I spoke to Danielle's dad this morning and they are going to stay put in The Woodlands after evacuating Danielle's grandmother and aunt from Friendswood and Port Arthur respectively. Also my aunt, uncle and cousin who only recently moved to The Woodlands decided to leave at 4:00 AM this morning and arrived at my dad's friend Don's house in Dripping Springs near Austin at 9:00 AM.

I heard from Mike who said that Jennifer's parents got to Georgetown this morning from Orange at 4:30 AM after driving since 8:15 PM last night. That's a distance of 290 miles in about 8 hours or 36 miles per hour. Mike's father in law said that all the gas stations in south Texas are out of fuel so they drove the end of their trip on fumes. Mike's sister and brother-in-law arrived in Georgetown at 5:30 AM after leaving Pearland at 4:00 pm yesterday. That's 200 miles in 13.5 hours or 15 miles per hour. Finally, the longest evacuation I've heard of so far was Joel's sister's family. Their 270 mile drive from Clear Lake to Dallas took 19 hours or 14 miles per hour.

The good news is that everyone is getting to higher, safer ground. Even if the storm weakens before making landfall, it is good to just get out of the way, let Mother Nature do her thing and then try to get back to normalcy as soon as possible.

There's More To Life Than Football

Now that I have taken care of my frantic "parents evacuation" post, I can now post about a very stupid decision that Joel told me about when he called this morning. That is the decision by Texas A&M officials to move Saturday's home game against Texas State to TONIGHT!?! What's worse is that they are urging fans not to travel to the game. So why are they even having the damn thing!?! I've been looking at the A&M football message board and there are a lot of idiots posting about how they are going to go. WE DON'T NEED MORE TRAFFIC!!!! WATCH IT ON TV!!!!

"This was an exceptionally difficult decision," A&M President Robert Gates said. "I made it based primarily on the strong desire of both teams to play, the strong sentiment by our students to attend, and by the fact that the student-athletes from Texas State can return home safely on Thursday night. And our students will have plenty of time to go home should they choose to do so."

I've been a fan of Robert Gates since he became university president, but this is just dumb logic.

"We need to play," [A&M Head Coach Dennis Franchione] said during Tuesday press conference. "We don't need to play a game, take a week off, play a game, take another week off. That's not a very good schedule for us in that regards. So we do hope we get to play."


College Station is a town of less than 100,000 people and traffic is bad enough on a regular gameday. It once took my friend Jody four hours to get from Houston to College Station for a Saturday game. That trip normally takes one and a half hours. There were no evacuations going on that day. This is simply ludicrous. My parents might be heading to College Station to evacuate and the idea that idiot game traffic might delay them any more than they already will be is just sickening. I love A&M and college football, but to use General Russel Honore's sentiment, I think that this time the A&M officials are "stuck on stupid."

Parents, They Just Don't Understand

I shouldn't say that totally, because my parents have been through many hurricanes in all of their time in south Louisiana, but until now, they have never had to deal with an evacuation. The plan was for them to leave before dawn this morning and head for Lafayette, but as everyone now knows from the news, there is massive gridlock on all roads leading out of Houston. I found out that my parents had changed their plans when Joel called me this morning from New York to tell me his parents had made it to Dallas after driving for nine hours. That is only a 270 miles drive! That's an average speed of 30 miles per hour!

So after talking to Joel, I checked my email and saw that my mom had written saying that they had decided to stay. Of course I got on the phone right away and was actually get through to them. They said they have been receiving calls all morning from people urging them to leave. I joined the chorus and told them that the threat of having no power for several days should be enough to get them out. My mom said she had wanted to leave last night but they were staying to see what would happen. I told my dad in no uncertain terms that there is absolutely no reason to stay in Houston at all. While I was still talking to my mom, my dad got a call from his parents in Lafayette and I think that all this got him moving. At the time they were at Target buying water and other supplies. I told them as soon as they got back to their apartment, they should take what they need and get on the damn road!

They will be on the road for a long time, but thankfully, Houston officials are opening the interstates to contraflow (using both inbound and outbound lanes for outbound traffic only). So I told my parents to just get on whatever outbound road they could and start heading north. They can always get to College Station or Austin once they are out of the gridlock.

The really good news that I have gotten through this blog today is that my friend Jason, an MD/PhD student at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, has evacuated safely all the way to his hometown of St. Louis.

UPDATE: Since starting this post, I have received another email from my mom:


Wes and June have read Jack the "riot act" and he is loading the trunk as I type. We are headed for College Station or Lafayette. Jack wants to go to Lafayette via 45N (now contraflow north of the Woodlands) which will be slow going for a while, then 105 and backroads that we are familiar with (from our travels back and forth the last four years during massive road construction). We can eventually work our way to Opelousas and then head south. As we make progress we may decide to College Station is the way to go, BUT WE ARE HEADED NORTH!!!

Thanks to all for your concerns and prayers! We will take out time, be very careful, and not take any chances.

I'm already packed (did that last night) and will help Jack load up. We're shutting down the computer now as we are taking it with us.

I'll be in contact as often as I can and hopefully will let you all know by tonight where we end up.


So I am very glad that they are getting a move on. I would have been very nervous about them staying not just through the storm but through the communication blackout that will inevitably follow.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rita's Bearing Down and the Parents Are Leaving H-town

I woke up this morning to news that Rita had been upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane so I called my dad to see if he and my mom were planning to leave Houston today. My mom had previously indicated that they would leave as soon as it became a Category 4, but this morning, my dad said that they would wait until Thursday afternoon. I didn't like the sound of that and so monitored the situation all day.

Once Houston Mayor Bill White announced the beginnings of mandatory evacuations for parts of the city and Rita was upgraded to a Category 5 storm, I spent most of my free time this afternoon trying to get through to my parents on their cell phones. Since Katrina hit Louisiana, I have been no stranger to busy signals as I have tried to call both Roxi and my brother in Lafayette. The influx of refugees coupled with downed phone service across the southeastern part of the state has overtaxed the rest of south Louisiana's telephone system. It appears that it has now spread to Houston as well.

I finally received a call from my dad late this afternoon and he told me that the office that my parents work in closed this afternoon at 2:30 PM and they will be heading east to Lafayette before dawn tomorrow. There will still be plenty of traffic to contend with but at least they might get a jump on some of Thursday's evacuation rush. It might prove to be all for naught, but I feel much better knowing that they will be getting out of the downtown area before Rita decides where she will make landfall.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Rick Perry and Lyda Ann Thomas plan to avoid pitfalls of Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin

The city of Galveston is planning to announce a voluntary evacuation this afternoon at 2:00 PM if Tropical Storm Rita enters the gulf with the potential to become a Category 3 hurricane. Texas Governor Rick Perry has recalled Texas National Guard and emergency workers currently helping in Louisiana and Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas has arranged for more than 80 city and school district buses to be ready at 10:00 AM on Wednesday to assist in the evacuation of people without transportation.

Galveston is not anywhere near as large as New Orleans but the city has suffered from hurricanes before. 105 years ago, almost to the day, the Category 4 Galveston Hurricane struck the island on September 8, 1900 completely destroying the city. The lack of advanced warning killed 6,000 people on the island alone and between 8,000 and 12,000 total in it's path making it the deadliest disaster in American history. Some say that if not for the hurricane, Galveston would have grown into an even larger sea port rivaling the importance of New Orleans.

Without a doubt, recent history is playing a very big part of this early preparation and although there is a lot of time for Rita to change course, no city or state government wants to be responsible for the lack of preparedness exhibited by Louisiana state and city officials Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin. They learned the hard way and so Texas governments don't want to repeat their mistakes.

Monday, September 19, 2005

We're not out of the woods yet...

There was a time that I, like many residents of New Orleans, would scoff at predictions that the doomsday scenario would take place, but since it in effect did when Hurricane Katrina hit, I am taking any more warnings with a little bit more seriousness. The Corps of Engineers says that they have pumped 87% of the Katrina floodwaters out of New Orleans and that the city should be dry by the end of the week. That is unless Tropical Storm Rita has anything to say about it. If the storm should hit Texas it would dump a considerably amount of water on south Louisiana. If it veers east, as many hurricanes tend to do, it could be a whole new disaster for those residents who are rushing to return to the city. I think that it is extremely unwise to put 180,000 people back in the potential path of a hurricane in a city that, by the mayor's own admission, "remains a hazardous site, and ongoing health and safety issues are being assessed."

UPDATE: As of this afternoon, Mayor Nagin has suspended the public return to parts of New Orleans citing the threat of Tropical Storm Rita. I'm all for New Orleans rising again but it's good to see that reason has prevailed in the face of this next potential hurricane.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

It was seven years ago today...

On September 17, 1998, I recieved my Aggie Ring. I can hardly believe that it has already been seven years but then again, I can't believe that it has now been more than ten years since I graduated from high school.

Getting my ring was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life up to that point. I still wear it every day as do most of the hundreds of thousands of Aggie graduates around the world. The thing that I like most about my ring is the instant connection that it provides to other Aggies. Whenever I see someone with an Aggie Ring, I introduce myself and likewise, many Aggies have stopped me to introduce themselves as well. To me it represents the common bond that we have regardless of any of our differences.

September 17 was a great day! Just look how happy me and my friends were!

Pictured above are Chris, Joel B!, me (with my old bouffant hair style) and Tim Smith.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I've Been Linked

I was just checking out Brendan Loy's blog and I've been linked in his post about this weekend's Notre Dame game. I sent him a story about some ticket improprieties going on in Section 135.

New Blogs

New blogs announcement!

Roxi has a new blog called Stranger In The Alps.

Also, Roxi and I have started a new blog together called Grope For Luna.

Check them out when you have a chance!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Where does the buck stop?

At a joint meeting of the Louisiana Legislature, Governor Kathleen Blanco joined President Bush is acknowledging that the federal, state and local response was slow and that there were mistakes made in the process. She went on to proclaim that "[T]he buck stops here, and as your governor, I take full responsibility."

So that makes two out of three leaders that are admitting they could and should have done more. Once again, I agree with Brendan Loy when he writes:

Your move, Mayor Nagin.

(Hint: you might want to take responsibility for what happened in the run-up to the storm -- i.e., the late evacuation, the unused buses -- as well as what happened in the aftermath.)

For now, Mayor Ray Nagin is offering that as many as 182,000 residents will be allowed to return to New Orleans this weekend. His hopes are to get as many people as possible back into their homes and businesses so that New Orleans can again become a functional city. He also has hopes of having the French Quarter "open for business" by September 26. So perhaps New Orleans will return to normalcy long before it was predicted by some, but at least from what I read, the French Quarter never really closed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


President Bush has taken responsibility for Hurricane Katrina response failures "[T]o the extant that the federal government did not do its job right." Under the circumstances of the disaster, I believe that he and FEMA should be responsible for issues with the federal response. But I also agree with Brendan Loy when I say that this should not be used as an excuse for Governor Kathleen Blanco and Mayor Ray Nagin to get a pass on responsibility at the state and local level in so much as Louisiana is concerned. The same can be said for Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi although his state has been extremely effective in dealing with the disaster.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Katrina: American Catastrophe

If you are reading this right now, stop and go watch the History Channel. There is a very interesting show about Hurricane Katrina and specifically the impact on New Orleans. What I am finding most enlightening about it is the detailed history of the city including how it was built below sea level through the use of levees. We didn't learn about any of this in Louisiana History back in 6th grade.

UPDATE: The History Channel will be running the Katrina: American Catastrophe again tonight at 11:00 PM Central.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Patriot Day

Honor the fallen and the heroes of September 11, 2001 on this Patriot Day.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Hollywood is STILL out of ideas

The people that brought you Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach, Police Academy 6: City Under Siege and Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow are back with -- you guessed it -- the yet to be subtitled Police Academy 8.

This should most certainly remedy the box office slump of 2005. Way to go Hollywood!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Musician Relief

Being a musician myself and personally knowing musicians who have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina, I thought it only logical to include some information on how to help the struggling entertainers of New Orleans.

World Music Central has a good round-up of ways to help including housing for musicians. I am adding the following to the Hurricane Katrina links section:

Tipitina's Foundation

New Orleans Musician Fund

WWOZ of New Orleans also has a list of musicians who have been reported safe and sound since the hurricane.

"New" New Orleans

What's next for New Orleans? I read several articles today that offer predictions and plans.

First up, a PoliPundit blog post of a National Guardsman who's been on the ground for six days in the Big Easy. He writes up a list of several predictions including the rapid reconnection of utilities and the return of a scaled down version of Mardi Gras in February of 2006.

Second is an article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune stating that Jazz Fest will go on as scheduled in May of 2006. It may not be in it's traditional location, but the organizers vow for it to return as close to New Orleans as possible.

Finally, the New York Times brings it all together in an article about New Orleans executives who are currently operating out of Baton Rouge. They too predict that the power, water and sewage will all be back to the French Quarter within weeks and that the Convention Center will be operational again in six months. They will also push for a Super Bowl as soon as possible and a Presidential Nominating Convention in 2008.

If the French Quarter and Warehouse District can get up and running as quickly as predicted, expect to see both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions take place in New Orleans. It will be the perfect forum for each party to both congratulate themselves while slamming the other for all the action/inaction during the Hurricane Katrina crisis.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Jesse Jackson is not helping

Perennial race-baiter Jesse Jackson has proclaimed that the word "refugee" connotes "that the displaced storm victims, many of whom have been black, are second-class citizens — or not even Americans. It is racist to call American citizens refugees."

Well here is the definition I found in my trusty Oxford Dictionary:

refugee /refyooj/ n. a person taking refuge, esp. in a foreign country from war or persecution or natural disaster.

So there you have it. The Oxford Dictionary is racist.

I don't see how this is any help whatsoever to the plight of the refugees. Oops, I must be a racist too. The word refugee has not been misused and in my opinion this is nothing but an attempt by Jackson to bait black refugees into hating whites in the government and supporting his causes. He may have helped get buses to New Orleans to evacuate Xavier students, but this is just despicable. Am I wrong?

Beware of Hurricane Katrina Fundraising Scams

Amidst all of the generosity and giving, there are some people who are using Hurricane Katrina to defraud good people out of money they thought was going to victims. These scam artists are worse than any looter captured on film in New Orleans last week. So what do you do to protect yourself?

  1. Telephone - If anyone calls you to solicit money for victims, ask that they send you paper information in the mail. If they say they don't have any or it will take too long, you'll know that they are scum. Any reputable charity would love to have a donor on a mailing list to ask for future donations.
  2. Email - This pretty much goes without saying. As everyone knows, there are spammers out there phishing for credit card and bank account information. The emails can seem very legitimate and the associated web sites can look just like the real thing, but beware of clicking on any links in email from unknown senders. If they sound like a good charity, look them up on This site works in conjunction with the Better Business Bureau to maintain a list of legitimate charities.
  3. Door-to-Door - Again, ask for paper information as well as websites and phone numbers for the organization. Don't give anyone any money at the door. If they are honest, they won't care how the money gets to their charity, as long as it gets there. Take their name and tell them you will donate via telephone after you have contacted the Better Business Bureau.
It's really pretty sad that it's come to this, but unfortunately the world is rife with people who have absolutely no moral compass whatsoever. Please take the advice of and Investigate Before You Donate.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Louisiana Creole Diaspora

While I was back home this past weekend and discussing the evacuation of New Orleans with many people, I had a thought that has stuck with me. In order to place the hundreds of thousands of evacuees from New Orleans, people are being flown as far as Arizona, Tennessee and South Carolina. I started thinking about the people who are being evacuated so far from home and how few of them probably have the means or the will to return to New Orleans or even Louisiana for that matter. So there are hundreds of people with a culture that is very foreign to many parts of this country and they are being dispersed in groups of a few hundred around the continental US.

I was trying to imagine how hard it would be to adjust to life in a new city with a completely different cultural perspective on the world, but then thought about the fact that the hundreds of evacuees in each city could serve as support for one another as they settle into their new lives. I discussed this turn of events with family and friends and thought about how this has the potential to create a very interesting sub-culture around the country. Small enclaves of Creole culture, not unlike Chinatowns in major metropolitan areas, could conceivably develop in places like Phoenix, AZ, Chattanooga, TN, Columbia, SC and countless other cities that have taken in hundreds of evacuees.

Not surprisingly, others have thought the same thing as is evidenced by this AP article that I found on the Lafayette Daily Advertiser website on Wednesday afternoon.

Hurricane Katrina Web Relief Projects

As I said in a post very early yesterday morning, the outpouring of support in the blogosphere has been tremendous. Now that the initial united blogging effort is over, here are a couple of links to information on how to help further:

Hurricane Katrina: Web Relief Project Directory

InstaPundit's Charity Directory

Thank you for all your help in the recovery. Every donation counts.

Monday, September 05, 2005

New Comments Feature

Just a quick post about a new setting I have activated on my blog to filter out unsolicited "spam" comments of this blog. A couple of my blogging friends had posted some information about this on their blogs but I had yet to see it until tonight. I was just checking a comment on my most recent post on Hurricane Katrina and it seems sort of harmless until you get to the link for some shady "work from home" business. I only link it myself so that you'll know what I mean, not so that you will check out the website being advertised.

Anyway, I have activated a protocol that will ask you to go through one more step when commenting on any of my posts. It should be relatively painless and I hate to add the extra step, but it is the unfortunate nature of the Internet that people will exploit every avenue possible to make a quick buck. This will prevent spam comment programs from automatically posting to my blog while still allowing true readers a forum to discuss any post. Thanks for understanding and don't hesitate to comment!

Hurricane Katrina: Blog for Relief Weekend Final Results

It is now past midnight in the Central Time Zone and I thought I'd check the results of the united blogging effort to raise funds for the relief of hurricane victims. I am very happy to report that the current results have surpassed $1,000,000! This is an amazing feat but this is only the beginning. There is so much more to be done and I urge everyone who hasn't made a donation to make one now or in the near future. It's never too late to help. Make a donation to the Red Cross or any of the charities listed on the InstaPundit's Blogburst page. Thank you for everything or for your help in the future as we work to help the hundreds of thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Hell on Earth

After I got my meal and flight vouchers in Bush Intercontinental Airport, I started my trek through the terminals looking for a restaurant to redeem one for dinner. In my terminal, everything was closed but I asked a guy at the McDonald's if there were any other restaurants open in the airport. He directed me to the next terminal but not before turning away a US Army soldier as well. The soldier looked disgruntled and annoyed so I caught up to him to tell him where I had been directed. After doing so, I asked him where he was heading. He told me he was headed home to Phoenix after leaving Hell on Earth. I next expected him to tell me that he had just left Iraq, but he was referring to the four days he spent at the Astrodome helping to tend to the evacuees. When I told my parents about this exchange, their response was, " If he thought that was Hell on Earth, can you imagine what the Superdome must have been like?"

Layover in Houston

I left Lafayette this evening at 6:50 PM and was expecting to be back in Nashville about an hour ago but....

When I arrived at the gate for my flight to Nashville in Houston, they had apparently overbooked the flight, which has become a standard procedure especially on holiday weekends. They were looking for volunteers to leave on Tuesday morning in exchange for a hotel room, two meals and a $300 flight voucher. I jumped at the opportunity and here I sit at my parents' apartment in downtown Houston. (I decided not to use the hotel room since this would give me a chance to visit my parents for an evening.)

Not a bad deal except that I will be getting into work a few hours late in the morning. But life goes on and my next trip will only cost me three hours worth of wages!

Final Day of Hurricane Katrina: Blog for Relief Weekend

Please make sure to donate to the Red Cross or one of the 250 other charities that are part of the Blog for Relief Weekend. For a complete list of charities, go to the InstaPundit's Blogburst page. Don't forget to log your contribution on The Truth Laid Bear. The current tally of donations stands at over $848,000. Let's try to get this number over $1,000,000 before the end of the day. Thanks for helping.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Lake Charles Trip

Our trip to the wedding in Lake Charleas last night was fun. As I expected, we saw several convoys heading in the direction of New Orleans on I-10 as we traveled west. Going to Lake Charles, we saw a convoy of Homeland Security and Border Patrol vehicles heading east. I'm not exactly sure what Border Patrol would do, but perhaps they are just using the resources and not actually looking for illegal immigrants. At least I would hope that they are more concerned with rescuing citizens than finding illegals right now.

On the way back from Lake Charles we passed two very large convoys of school buses headed east. Each convoy had at least fifteen school buses. It was a very interesting site to see as there seemed to be an endless line of them as we first approached and they really stood out with their bright reflective paint jobs. We tried to get pictures unfortunately, there wasn't enough natural light to get a good one.

Hurricane Katrina: Blog for Relief Weekend Day 4

I just wanted to post a friendly reminder of the united blogging effort for Hurricane Katrina Relief that is continuing through Monday. Please donate to either the Red Cross or one of the many charities listed on InstaPundit's Blogburst page. Don't forget to log your contribution and your referring blog at The Truth Laid Bear tracking site. As of now, the effort has raised nearly three-quarters of a million dollars for more than 200 charities. Thank you for your support and effort in this recovery operation.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Back Home in Lafayette

I arrived back in Lafayette this morning at 10:45 AM and from what I have seen, it's about as I suspected. There is no hurricane damage whatsoever, but there is a lot of activity at the Cajundome and Blackham Coliseum. As we drove on I-49 just north of I-10, we saw a convoy of at least ten charter buses heading north towards Shreveport and/or Dallas. Some of the buses were from Arkansas so there has definitely been some regional mobilization.

The Daily Advertiser is reportingg that the Cajundome and Convention Center has reached it's capacity at 6,700 evacuees. The other thing that is immediately noticeable is the presence of signs on I-10 and Highway 90 that proclaim that all roads into New Orleans are closed.

Other than that, Lafayette is really about the same as it was when I was last here a few months ago. We are about to head west to Lake Charles for a wedding, but I suspect to see similar evacuee activity there as it is the next largest city west of Lafayette.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Hurricane Katrina Relief Blogburst Continues

Well, it's 4:30 AM and I am about to head to the airport to fly to Lafayette. This trip was planned long before Hurricane Katrina, but earlier in the week I had to alter my plans in order to make it to Louisiana. I'm going for a wedding but while I was talking to Roxi last night, we discussed doing some hurricane related things. Lafayette was spared the ill effects of the hurricane, but it is full of evacuees and we will most likely pitch in to help where we can.

In the spirit of giving, please help support a charity this weekend that is offering relief to the victims. You can find a large number of charities on the InstaPundit's Blogburst page but if you can't decide among the many, I recommend the Red Cross. After you donate, don't forget to log your contribution and track the progress of this united blog effort. As of this very minute, the readers of these blogs have already contributed over half a million dollars. Thank you so much for your donations. Please spread the word.

Louis Armstrong International Airport

About a month ago, I bought a ticket on Southwest Airlines from Nashville to New Orleans for today. Roxi was planning on picking me up and after spending a night in New Orleans, we were going to drive to Lafayette and then on to Lake Charles with her family for a wedding.

On Sunday morning, my dad called me and told me that I should plan on getting a new ticket to Houston instead. I, like many of the reluctant evacuees of New Orleans, thought that there would be damage to the city, but that the city and the airport would be more than functional by Friday.

On Monday, I changed my tune and purchased a ticket to Lafayette through Houston thinking that it might be weeks before the New Orleans airport was functional again. The Louis Armstrong Airport is operational again, but the fifteen commercial airlines that will be operating today will be evacuating up to 25,000 people to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

Simply amazing.

On another note, I have added a new link to the Hurricane Katrina section of the sidebar. It is for set up by to assist in locating temporary or permanent housing for the hundreds of thousands without homes to return to. Thanks to Roxi for the tip.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Remains of the Camp at Pass Christian

On Thursday afternoon I found a website that has satellite pictures of the hurricane damage but I was having trouble getting it to work on my computer. Earlier this morning, I stumbled across the site again and it worked. I quickly checked Google maps so that I could find the general vicinity of Roxi's grandparents' camp and tried a block of the map. Bingo! Although my excitement quickly passed as I confirmed what I have been expecting since Monday afternoon. There is nothing left of the Camp but the foundation. Below is the satellite photo with the slab of what I believe to be the Camp circled in red. The large white structure to the southwest of the Camp is the Super Wal-mart. A high-resolution version of the image below can be found here.

The photo below is a zoomed in picture of the former site of the Camp. As you can see from the picture, the line of timber and debris representing the end of the storm surge stops just a few houses to the north of the camp. Unfortunately the camp was not far enough down the road to avoid complete and total destruction.

Incidentally, the picture that I use for my profile shot was taken on the beach directly across the street from the Super Wal-mart.

Hurricane Katrina: Blog for Relief Weekend

As the blog-a-thon continues, I would like to remind everyone to donate what you can to the relief efforts. There are countless reputable charities but if you have trouble picking, I recommend the Red Cross. We are all struggling to make ends meet and higher gas prices doesn't help, but please think about the hundreds of thousands of people with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Please donate to the Red Cross or one of the many charities listed on the InstaPundit's Blogburst page and don't forget to log your contribution. Tell your friends and family and let's do our part to help the Gulf Coast. To check the current status of the fundraiser at The Truth Laid Bear.

I've also added a new "Hurricane Katrina" links section to the sidebar with this and all my favorite news and information sources.

Anonymous Words of Wisdom in these Trying Times

I came across this post on a message board and I couldn't have said it better.

Okay I haven't been able to read most of the posts here and doubt in some ways this will be read but I want to say this....

No one will change someone else's mind about politics by posting on a thread. The Bush supporters are still going to support Bush when this is over... the Bush haters will still call for his resignation when this is over.

God willing this will be soon.

From what I can gather there are a lot of people who are in here with sincere concerns or worries. There are also a lot of people in here giving accurate news updates. Coming in here yelling that someone could have prevented this is useless. More so even than 9/11 we HAVE to come together and pull our country back up. If you don't like our current administration fix it the right way. VOTE in the next election... recruit your friends/ family/ random strangers to vote... volunteer for the candidate of your choice.

THIS is not the time to be bashing our country. We all were devasted by 9/11... this tragedy is farther reaching and impacts us ALL more directly than that ever will. I did everything in my power to support OUR country and fellow Americans then, as I am sure most of you did, and will do the same now.

For the next say 30 days can we just lay off the politics and come together (maybe sing a catchy camp-fire song) to salvage what we can and rebuild what we cannot.

This is truly the saddest thing I have ever seen. But in some ways seeing how it is bringing out so much hatred is even worse. Personally, I don't care who those people stuck in there are, what color they are, how much money they have, even if they have all their teeth. I care that they are human beings.. the same as EVERYONE in here... if you can't get off your high horse long enough to see that... you deserve more pity than them. We have a long history, as a country, of helping those in need. It is one of the many things that makes us so great. This is OUR people in need.

Please stop the racism and the political bashing and the people are stupid for living there/ staying there remarks. We ALL know how you feel by now. Most of us don't care. But the quicker you get down, maybe the quicker you will do your part to save someone.

Refugee Impact on Lafayette

It seems that there is a lot of good in the world to help balance out all the bad, but it is certainly sad and scary to hear about what a disaster can lead people to do.

I got several emails this afternoon concerning civil unrest in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette due to the influx of refugees on the cities. People in the cities are obviously trying to do all that they can to help out the displaced, but there always seem to be some who feel that they must take when they feel that not enough is being offered.

The first is excerpts from an email in a lengthy chain of forwards that originated from one of my mother's former co-workers in Lafayette.

Things are getting worse here. These has been rioting at the Centraplex in [Baton Rouge]. The SWAT team has been called in. The government offices in BR are closed until Tuesday. Bill is considering closing the BR office b/c there is an impending gasoline shortage.

Last night there were robberies at the Wal-mart on the Northside and the RaceTrac gas station.
Although things sound like they could get out of control in Baton Rouge, the Daily Advertiser in Lafayette is reporting that the reports are only rumors and false reports. Apparently the rumors were enough to prompt LSU Chancellor Sean O'Keefe to issue a statement by email to all LSU students about safety on campus and in the city.

The second and more personal excerpt is from an email that my brother sent this afternoon in response to my parents. My parents who live in Houston, can't get through to him in Lafayette because the telephone system is jammed with people trying to call in to the state. Here is what he had to say about crime and the influx of people into Lafayette.

So far I haven't heard of any robberies but it seems very likely. As you can imagine the people that fill the Cajundome don't know anyone outside of their small worlds in New Orleans. At lunch time they and others pack all the fast food restaurants near [my office]. These are the people that concern me. They don't have anything. They have nothing to lose. I had trouble finding a gas station today that wasn't packed with lines of cars, or out of gas, or where regular was less than $2.89. I filled up at a Chevron near work for $2.65/gallon reg. Traffic is truly horrible. Before, we thought it was bad...We were wrong. We had it quite good actually. The quantity of drivers doesn't bother me as much as the poor quality of drivers. Don't get me wrong, I certainly sympathize with these unfortunate people but tension is rising quite quickly. With increased people, traffic and gas prices and a decrease in places for people to go, the territorial nature of people will cause an inevitable rise in hostilities likely leading to more crime simply out of people's frustrations with each other.
Pretty powerful stuff -- powerful and widespread enough for many residents of Acadiana to arm themselves with visits to gun shops and sporting goods stores. My brother went on to say that if it becomes too intense in Lafayette, he and his girlfriend will leave town and head for Houston and stay with my parents for a while. Although based on the number of people that are being shipped into Texas, it might be that much worse in Houston.

Bloggers Unite for Katrina Relief Effort

The father of Tennessee bloggers, Glenn Reynolds, has organized a "blogburst" at InstaPundit for Hurricane Katrina relief. Please donate to any charity that is offering assistance directly to the Hurricane relief efforts. Thank you.