Thursday, September 11, 2008
I like Ike? (yeah, cause that's not getting old . . .)
As I've spent the day running around, getting batteries, securing garbage cans, and preparing food to eat if the electricity goes out for several days, I've been in and out of the media coverage of the storm. I've been listening to NPR, which breaks into the mournful music of the day (since it's 9/11, of course, we have a lot of requiem action) to air press conferences from the mayor, the county judge in charge of Harris County's issues, and then, just now, a press conference with national FEMA reps.
I wasn't scared until this press conference: Will my windows break and shatter? Will my roof come off? Is a tree coming through my front wall? Let's hope not, but Michael Chertoff seems to think it's a distinct possibility.
In a moment of analytical clarity, I thought: maybe in our post-Katrina world, it's so politically damaging to preach calm before a potentially devastating hurricane, the officials opt in the other direction. Yet in Houston, after the Rita evacuation debacle (6 hours, 35 miles, no AC and a really hot and angry cat in my relatively mild case), there's also a strong sentiment to encourage people to shelter-in-place. Located between these two very different situations of mass chaos of the 2005 hurricane season, local and national officials understandably hedge their bets. I'm skeptical, though, of what this means for us on the ground. Who do you believe: the "this is not a Gustav; this is a serious storm" line from Chertoff, who as we know cannot appear anything less than 100% alert and concerned, or the "use common sense, we'll all be okay" message coming from Bill White who, Lord knows, can't deal with another 2 day traffic jam between Houston and points West.
Well, I shelter in place, with some friends, probably several gin and tonics, and our flashlights and candles.