Thursday, September 22, 2005

I "love" TV News.

It is amazing how much blather local TV news can generate over a storm.

I keep thinking of the people who lived here as recently as 60 years ago. When a hurricane hit, they "sheltered in place" because there was nothing else to do. Only 60 years ago, much of the area I live in was farmland, far outside the city limits of Houston. People still traveled by horse and buggy as much as by car. After a hurricane, they probably cleaned up the branches and pumped water to wash up with, or cook their meal. If they lost electricity, it was of small moment. And they certainly didn't have TV newscasters trying every five minutes to keep people glued to the TV screens.

Reports are that I-45 out of Houston (up from Galveston) has been bumper-to-bumper for 100 miles for the last 12 hours. One "contra-flow" lane has now been opened, but traffic is still horrible. Reporters keep saying the Mayor has said "Houston" should evacuate.

This is a city of 4 million, and one of the least-densely populated cities in the country. Which means "Houston" covers a lot of ground, not to mention the suburbs and smaller cities in the SMSA. 1.8 million are reportedly evacuating now, most of them forced to go through Houston on the evacuation routes. (Word is all of those routes are as backed up as I-45). Reports from family members are that after 12 hours, they haven't made it to Brenham (just beyond the "danger" zone of the hurricane), and people are running out of gas, with no new supplies of gas arriving (although the state is trying to deliver it. Points for trying.)

So imagine adding only 1 million more to that stream, as people decide "the Mayor said to leave Houston."

When the news is good, it's very, very good. A lot of people in harm's way, are out of harm's way now.

But when it's bad, it's horrid. And the two conditions so often look alike.

P.S. Thank you all for the good wishes. They are much appreciated. Family members in Lake Charles have stayed home, and given the evacuation situation here, we've all decided it's best to ride it out here. Which, with your support added, makes it easier to cope with what comes next.

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