Photographs of the aftermath
September 16, 2008 5:53 AM   Subscribe

Next on Mythbusters: They can be made to drink after all.
posted by DU at 6:03 AM on September 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Speaking of Ike, does anyone know of a way to check the damage at a specific address? A friend of mine moved there like a month ago (from Cedar Rapids, Iowa of all places) and she wasn't able to get flood insurance during hurricane season. Are there any satalite photos of the city or anything like that yet? It seems like most of the pictures are of the most devastated areas.

It's so amazing to see that those stilts they put houses on there actually worked in some cases. I mean, I suppose they may have been flooded out anyway. I've seen some pictures where a few houses are left standing and others were completly washed away.
posted by delmoi at 6:08 AM on September 16, 2008

What happened to Bolivar Peninsula.
posted by spock at 6:11 AM on September 16, 2008

I can only imagine how persecuted you'd feel if your building burnt down during all that flooding.

Also, ninja cat keeps watch for pirates.
posted by mandal at 6:15 AM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

DU: "Next on Mythbusters: They can be made to drink after all."

I've alread started saying "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink, unless there's water water everywhere."
posted by Plutor at 6:34 AM on September 16, 2008

I was surprised by the lack of media coverage compared to Hurricane Gustof. Is that because, despite the horrific damage, there has been relatively good planning and evacuation? Or are the media just fickle, and have decided only New Orleans hurricane stories sell?
posted by jb at 6:41 AM on September 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

They did a story on cnn yesterday morning, jb, in the midst of the wall street meltdown(ish). They went around and showed a dead horse floating in the water, some people who I think described themselves as stupid for staying, and they showed an arch/front of someone's house and talked about how NOAA had issued a dire warning saying people who remained in their homes faced certain death.

They interviewed the people who stayed and one woman was grief stricken over a friend who got "washed away". Apparently her friend's husband and her were up in their attic and the waves just got too rough, and a big wave came "and took her".

It reminded me of that "the jungle just came alive and took her" line from predator, and the lady looked hardened, tanned and grisled, while a long, clear tear streamed down her cheek. Pretty rough stuff.
posted by cashman at 6:50 AM on September 16, 2008

So I guess God was punishing Texas this time?
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:54 AM on September 16, 2008

High resoultion, HD photos (Windows XP, Vista, Firefox, IE only) on msnbc:
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:26 AM on September 16, 2008

I hope we realize how stupid it would be to rebuild Texas. What were those people thinking to live so close to the ocean? This would not have happened if people hadn't built there.
posted by 3.2.3 at 7:38 AM on September 16, 2008

Thanks for the link.. some moving photos in that set...

Anyone considering moving to ocean front property along the gulf coast should be required to look at a few hundred of these images.... And then told that the premium for flood insurance for newly built property is equal to the cost of rebuilding the property +25% for administrative overhead....
posted by HuronBob at 7:38 AM on September 16, 2008

While the images of devastation are terrible (especially considering I live in a coastal city and these could have just as easily been neigborhoods I know destroyed in the same way), when looking at image 25, I couldn't help but giggle. Because that photo makes me think of the A-team.

and also the song from Team America: World Police.
you know the one.
"America! Fuck Yeah!
Here we come to save the motherfucking day-yeah!"

posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 7:41 AM on September 16, 2008

We had our family getaway washed away by Ike. It was in Kemah. For the memories we have had there, it was worth the risk. We will build again without much of a problem.
posted by Senator at 8:01 AM on September 16, 2008

Surreal stuff.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:05 AM on September 16, 2008

Can anyone offer some good links to concise info about the overall impact and scale of damage from this storm? There really hasn't been a lot of media coverage of this event and I think it's mainly for two reasons:

1) The news coming from Wall Street right now is just really major--historical, even;
2) Ike, as destructive as it was, apparently wasn't nearly as bad as expected and most of the emergency planning went off pretty well (so in that sense, it's not a historical storm--not the worst of its kind).

I'm curious to know just how bad it really was. Comparisons to other storms might also be useful. I think I heard that, at last count, about 5 deaths had been attributed to the storm (seems hard to believe it was so low, given some of the more dramatic pictures here of the damage and all the initial reports of people choosing not to evacuate. But I've lived through a couple of major hurricanes in Florida panhandle that generated similarly dramatic scenes of devastation, and those ultimately, didn't leave much long-term damage behind, so I'm wondering if that's the case with this storm).
posted by saulgoodman at 8:05 AM on September 16, 2008

I have to re-emphasize that up until Friday morning, everyone thought that the hurricane was going to land well south of Houston. The call to evacuate Bolivar was not made until AFTER the storm surge had already come in - Highway 87, the only way out, was covered in water by that time, and the ferry, the only other way out, had stopped running. The early storm surge and the hurricane's jog east surprised everyone.

My family had a home at Bolivar, we've had it for 30+ years. It was a very modest old one-room, 6-bed, 1000 square foot slip of nothing with a covered deck overlooking the dunes. We lived on that deck - watching birds, the sun rise, and ships going into the Shipchannel all day long, eating shrimp gumbo and playing gin rummy, holding the cards down with a giant can of DeepWoods Off. I was about to celebrate my 40th birthday there next month.

We are so, so lucky that we have other places to live, but it's still truly sad. Yes, we took a risk by owning a home there - and we won't rebuild. We'll sell the property to some developer who'll build a 3 story, 3000 square foot air conditioned monstrosity with no deck or windows on the beach side, so that the property might make it through the next storm. We did take a risk owning property there, and it was totally worth it, for a time.
posted by pomegranate at 8:10 AM on September 16, 2008 [6 favorites]

At the same time all this was going on here, my mom was in Taiwan, going thru Typhoon Sinlaku, a storm of similar magnitude. I couldn't find a single mention of it on TV here though. Nothing but Ike.
posted by nomisxid at 8:11 AM on September 16, 2008

Power was out for about 250,000 people in south-western Ohio over the weekend. My college classes were cancelled on Monday. Power's back on here now, but if you have friends or family in the Cincinnati/Dayton area, I might try calling them.
posted by aheckler at 8:14 AM on September 16, 2008

How on earth do you tidy up after something like this? I can't even imagine.
posted by heyho at 8:20 AM on September 16, 2008

Here's an article about Ike/recovery efforts on Bolivar. Here's a self link to some family photos of Bolivar b/f the storm. (warning, naked babies, exceptionally vane brother, potentially NSFW)
posted by pomegranate at 8:20 AM on September 16, 2008

Atheists might be on to something...
posted by nineRED at 8:36 AM on September 16, 2008

More Ike photos here.
posted by ornate insect at 8:41 AM on September 16, 2008

omg! Those photographs are amazing! I had no idea the damage was that bad. How awful.
posted by nickyskye at 8:56 AM on September 16, 2008

jb: i don't know about 'the lack of media coverage compared to Hurricane Gustof.' i was in new orleans for ike and about 60 miles north of nola for gustav. i saw plenty of hurricane coverage for both except for the day we were out of power for gustav, but had a more comprehensive view of ike. it was on cnn & the weather channel, along with some coverage on the local networks, although the local networks were more focused on this, which i think the national news has done a pretty good job of ignoring.

thanks to ike, there was plenty of damage in new orleans specifically and the louisiana coast in general. ike added insult to injury, not just from gustav but from rita and katrina before. i guess maybe katrina was a great time for the media when they chose to do little more than focus on one flooded out metro area for a week or more while the government figured out how to get people *off* of those rooftops, and ike is a bastard because he cut a swatch of destruction that runs 1,000+ miles through at least 2 time zones instead of doing the gentlemanly thing & containing it to galveston coastal area.

my guess is also that taxpayers are as concerned with whether their billion+ dollars went to something that actually works or if it's time, as so many suggest, to send the city back to the swamp. and my guess is that next time a storm eyes the southeast texas coast, they're going to get the same treatment.

having said that: thanks for the pic links Johnny Assay & spock & ornate insect & others i might have missed. and nomisxid: wow. just wow. that barely-a-paragraph story you linked to really does show just how little we care about any country that doesn't have oil-producing capabilities, doesn't it?
posted by msconduct at 9:05 AM on September 16, 2008

saulgoodman, the number I saw this morning was 40 deaths blamed on Ike so far--but I can't find that article now and it wasn't clear to me even at first reading whether that included deaths in the Caribbean or not. Sorry, I know that's not so helpful.

The coverage is so strange--it's very difficult to get a sense of the scale yet. An order of magnitude (or two) less than Katrina, certainly, but beyond that I don't know. So many of the houses destroyed were summer homes, which is a very different sort of impact. But if those people don't rebuild, there may be very little tourist economy left to sustain the year-round residents. So it's hard to predict the economic impact yet.

On preview: aw geez. Thanks, msconduct. I'd seen nothing about Ike's impact on Louisiana so far.
posted by hippugeek at 9:19 AM on September 16, 2008

Here's a different cite for forty total: "Three days after Ike crashed ashore, 40 people were reported dead, the majority outside Texas."
posted by hippugeek at 9:48 AM on September 16, 2008

Some comic relief. Listen to the audio.
posted by lukemeister at 9:51 AM on September 16, 2008

What's with the overpass in photo #7? Did it buckle, or is it always that roller coaster-y?
posted by amro at 9:51 AM on September 16, 2008

The reason for the greater Gustav coverage was pretty simple, really: It was coming along on the anniversary of Katrina, there would be a test of the levees, New Orleans was still in bad shape in countless respects, etc. And some people undoubtedly wished for massive looting and horrifying photos all over again, but were undoubtedly disappointed to not get a Katrina Reenactment (which no one should expect New Orleans residents to start doing for fun soon, a la Civil War reenactments).

Some of the hateful comments under the photos are unsurprising, by the way, but disappointing. Major newspapers, including even larger and more established and respected ones such as Boston Globe and the Times, etc., should either heavily moderate and correct matters of fact in comments sections, or shut them off altogether.
posted by raysmj at 9:52 AM on September 16, 2008

It's been a hectic week for me, so I haven't been able to keep an ear open for news surrounding Ike as well as I'd like. On top of that, I agree with previous posters who say that what coverage there is has been spotty at best, so these pictures are a revelation to me.

They're amazing. Some, like the pic of the sailboat resting atop the car, are immediate in their impact, and somewhat humorous despite the implied loss. Others, like the overhead shot of the truck driving down the submerged road, are gorgeous.

Then there are others. One that comes to mind is a pic I saw elsewhere of a warehouse. At first glance, the roof is scattered in a semicircle about 25-50 yards long. Second glance, the whole goddamned building has been shifted a good 25 feet off its foundation. The more I look, the more details pop up that give scope and depth to my understanding of what wind and water can do.

Yeah, we've seen this before, with Katrina and Hati and other places, but I hope that the media doesn't decide that the public has hurricane fatigue, because perspective is important, and current events are important.
posted by lekvar at 10:00 AM on September 16, 2008

Amazing photos. I really hadn't realized how bad things were in TX until I saw them.
posted by geeky at 10:02 AM on September 16, 2008

To raysmj: Hi, I'm the guy who runs The Big Picture, and just wanted to share that I do indeed moderate and approve the comments on there. If you think there are some nasty comments that made it through, you should see the many dozens that did not make the cut. It's a difficult task, and I'll never match anyone else's idea of what is or is not appropriate. I have considered turning off comments altogether, but it really does bring a whole new dimension to the entries, and lots of people seem to like the feature. I am also constantly trying to refine the process.

You mentioned that there were factual inaccuracies in the comments, which I'm happy to address - what did you find that was inaccurate?
posted by kokogiak at 10:21 AM on September 16, 2008

Comments such as:

That's the key difference between Texas and Louisiana. Louisiana is a failed, pitiful excuse for a welfare state. Texans get their hands dirty.
Posted by Chris H September 15, 08 02:08 PM

I haven't heard a single report of New Orlean's opening their doors to help the people in the Houston area. . . maybe that's just a one way super highway.

Is Houston below sea level? Didn't think so. It naturally drains. NOLA doesn't.
(In reality, just over half of NOLA is either at or above sea level. And half of the Crescent City's territory is taken up by Eastern New Orleans, which even pre-K had about a fifth of the city's population. The "it's all below sea level" error was posted repeatedly on NY Times comments sections after Gustav, as if it were generally acknowledged fact, usually with some additional angry commentary about how posters didn't want their tax dollars going to such-and-such.)
posted by raysmj at 10:29 AM on September 16, 2008

> High resoultion, HD photos (Windows XP, Vista, Firefox, IE only) on msnbc:

A plugin to allow our computers to view HD images? What a fantastic idea! Oh how I've longed to see images in my internets browser.
posted by datacenter refugee at 10:32 AM on September 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Okay, I won't try to derail (and thanks for responding), but the first comment strikes me as opinion, the second one as someone's honest observation. And regarding the brief comment "NOLA doesn't (drain naturally)" - I'd see that as hair-splitting, since a considerable portion of NOLA is below sea level, and interjecting myself to correct this would probably not be helpful to the conversation. But then, these were my judgements as moderator.

What I spend most of my time removing are the truly hateful comments along the lines of "Texans get what they deserve for supporting (policy or politician I disagree with)" or worse, less articulate attacks or immature bile.
posted by kokogiak at 10:41 AM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

The first comment is opinion? Yes, no one in Texas is on welfare. Rates of poverty in New Orleans and Houston are actually comparable. The second is a "honest" observation? How the hell would you know? New Orleans nonprofit and neighborhood groups traveled to Iowa after Miss. River flooding to do volunteer work there. I'm sure they will do whatever they can after Ike as well, despite having been affected just a week ago by Gustav and having damage to surrounding areas after Ike and Gustav.
posted by raysmj at 11:00 AM on September 16, 2008

I have to re-emphasize that up until Friday morning, everyone thought that the hurricane was going to land well south of Houston. The call to evacuate Bolivar was not made until AFTER the storm surge had already come in - Highway 87, the only way out, was covered in water by that time, and the ferry, the only other way out, had stopped running. The early storm surge and the hurricane's jog east surprised everyone.

I'm very sorry for your losses, but waiting for a "call to evacuate" is a little naive. The models are not very accurate more than three days out, but if you were paying attention the models came into very close agreement putting the track either directly at Galveston or slightly south of it. For [b]days[/b] the National Hurricane Center was telling people not to concentrate on the exact track of the storm because (due to its immense size) it was going to affect a [b]huge[/b] area of the coastal regions. The wave heights being reported [b]days[/b] before the event pointed to a huge sea surge on the north side of the storm (wherever it came ashore).

Particularly since area residents knew that they had only one way out, the important thing was not the timing of the storm (or the timing of the freaking official evacuation notice) but the condition of the escape route. It's 2008. There are lots of web sites and 24 hour weather channels. I posted about it on the Blue for heavens sake. Coming here now and acting like nobody could know until escape was not an option, is bullshit.
posted by spock at 11:00 AM on September 16, 2008

Saying an area is all above sea level when half of it's not (and when Eastern NOLA's size throws the picture way off) is not a matter of splitting hairs. And not all of Houston is easily drained either, although its vulnerability does not approach that of NOLA. Still, it flooded horribly after Tropical Storm Allison.
posted by raysmj at 11:06 AM on September 16, 2008

raysmj - when I say it's an "honest observation", I'm taking the comment at face value, what other choice do I have? I'm not saying that there are no reports, just that he was saying he had not seen them. He said "I haven't heard a single report of New Orlean's opening their doors..." - just because there may be such reports out there, is it my job to point that out, find them and set him straight?
posted by kokogiak at 11:16 AM on September 16, 2008

Random thoughts/experiences:

--I have several present and former tenants from New Orleans that I have/had rented to after Katrina. To a person, oldest to youngest, they have called me asking if I need a place to stay in NOLA.
--FEMA slow in delivering needed supplies for people in need and first responders? Fine, we'll set up our own distribution network and supply free ice.
--cleaning up debris at several of my rental properties could have been a lonely job as nearly all my tenants evacuated. Instead, random people driving by pulled over and helped until the job was done.
--Don't know what the media was reporting during the brunt of the storm. All I know is that I had three friends from the west coast calling me in a panic saying they'd heard that hundreds of thousands of people had died.
--for all'a that, most of us have food, clean water, good neighbors, and are getting on with what needs to be done, and getting whatever help they need from a variety of sources, from government, church groups, friends and family, neighbors and downright strangers. Patience and fortitude are required, and most people that have been through this seem to have that in great quantity.
--Somehow I have a hard time believing that the meltdown on Wall Street is any more or less important than reporting on a storm that affected millions and millions of people from Cuba to Chicago.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:21 AM on September 16, 2008 [5 favorites]

There are lots of web sites and 24 hour weather channels. I posted about it on the Blue for heavens sake. Coming here now and acting like nobody could know until escape was not an option, is bullshit.

I think it's hard for those of us who are really plugged in to imagine a life without wifi and cable and instant info overload every second. Lots of people who lived on Bolivar were unplugged, either because it was their vacation home or because they were shrimpers or rice farmers or small ranchers and didn't choose to spend their limited funds that way. That doesn't mean they didn't have a radio or a phone, and of course they were responsible for their own wellbeing. But my guess is not one person on the entire Bolivar peninsula knew, or cared, that Metafilter exists.
posted by pomegranate at 11:54 AM on September 16, 2008 [3 favorites]

"Next on Mythbusters: They can be made to drink after all."

Hey, it's a whole new ball game when the water is led to the horse.
posted by katillathehun at 12:08 PM on September 16, 2008

speaking of crystal beach & the bolivar penninsula, jeff masters has a pretty decent before/after picture on his blog.
posted by msconduct at 1:08 PM on September 16, 2008

DU is so on it. Has anybody else noticed how he is so quick to respond? He leads many comment threads. Just sayin.
posted by captainsohler at 1:08 PM on September 16, 2008

Senator and pomegrante, I am so sorry you lost your homes, even if they were get-away homes. Pomegrante, that sounded like a great place. Sad about the area, sad for so many.

Thanks for the report WolfDaddy - glad to hear you are doing OK.

I am always surprised how judgmental people can be about those who stay and weather things out since so many stay-behinds tend to be old, ill, poor, reluctant to leave pets, etc. Yes, maybe there are some thrill-seeking devil-be-damned risk takers, but I suspect for that for most of those who did not evacuate, the reality is a little grittier and more hardscrabble.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:09 PM on September 16, 2008

What's with the overpass in photo #7? Did it buckle, or is it always that roller coaster-y?

Amro, the bridge rises to a high point so that taller boats and ships can pass underneath. Sometimes, the inclines on each side can be surprisingly steep (depends on the length of the bridge and the required clearance), but in the case of the photo, the incline looks steeper than it really is due to the compressed perspective you get when you shoot a scene using a long telephoto lens. Note how closely spaced the bridge pilings are in the photo.
posted by jal0021 at 1:19 PM on September 16, 2008

But my guess is not one person on the entire Bolivar peninsula knew, or cared, that Metafilter exists.

The comment was directed to you (who apparently does read Metafilter). You are the one being an apologist for them not getting out in time. Unless one was bedridden or had some other extenuating problem, staying there until it was too late to escape is like getting run over on the highway by a car that's been coming down the road days, traveling 12 mph. Saying "nobody knew" and blaming late official evacuation orders is just pathetic.
posted by spock at 2:14 PM on September 16, 2008

I wasn't there, spock. I was in my home in Houston, doing what the mayor said to do - preparing for a storm and not evacuating. Please read before posting. Thanks.
posted by pomegranate at 2:19 PM on September 16, 2008

I can read. I makes me wonder how you can speak authoritatively to the state of mind of the people there (particularly "everyone") and the conditions there.

I have to re-emphasize that up until Friday morning, everyone thought that the hurricane was going to land well south of Houston. The call to evacuate Bolivar was not made until AFTER the storm surge had already come in - Highway 87, the only way out, was covered in water by that time, and the ferry, the only other way out, had stopped running. The early storm surge and the hurricane's jog east surprised everyone.
posted by spock at 2:41 PM on September 16, 2008

My word, you *are* exasperatingly spock-like, aren't you? I have these datapoints offline called friends, they were actually in Bolivar and got out at midnight Friday, when the water was already getting high enough to be risky going across Rollover Pass. They spent a good part of the day Thursday talking to their neighbors and people at the Big Store, which was the town square of Crystal Beach. There are lots of reasons why people were staying: I'm sure some of those reasons seemed quite logical at the time. Even logical people sometimes make mistakes.
posted by pomegranate at 3:32 PM on September 16, 2008

Didn't Haiti basically get wiped right out?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:43 PM on September 16, 2008

Holy crap, #11 took me by surprise. Up until then the homes were looking mostly just fine. And, I noticed, on stilts, which kinda indicates to me they were always at high risk.

Then, wham, #11 shows a neighbourhood literally scoured away.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:49 PM on September 16, 2008

I lived in Galveston for almost six years and moved up here to western Pearland, fifty miles inland, just last year. We just got our power back earlier this evening. We've had a battery-operated TV with a teeny-tiny screen. Today I got to look through four days' worth of newspapers all at once.

We're very very lucky to have no damage to my new home, built to the latest hurricane code and outside the storm surge areas. What I've seen happening to my neighbors makes me heartsick.

Until today, we've had no news from the "outside world," but we knew from the cell phone that people were watching us. My partner's sister in Indiana has been affected by Ike. We talked to her a couple of times a day when the phone worked, and she said the news was "all Houston, all the time." Her son near Cincinatti and my sister near Dayton both had power outages and he had hurricane force winds. She's poor and on disability, and she doesn't know much or care much about Wall Street crises; personal crises are more important and immediate to her. She's not really well educated, and certainly not trendy or well-connected, but I think her priorities are in order.
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:09 PM on September 16, 2008

People are surprisingly ill-informed in the "plugged in" community too.

Last weekend I had a conversation with someone in a huge British Telecommunications company about why one of their links was down.

Them : "Can you guys check the Houston office, it's gone off-line"
Me : "That'll be the 20ft waves and 150mph winds called Ike"
Them : !?
Me : "Turn on the bloody news and call them back in a few days"
posted by fullerine at 5:48 AM on September 17, 2008

I live about 100 miles from Houston. Most of my family is in Houston. I was very lucky in the storm as we had no damage and didn't lose power. Ike just missed us. But in four of the counties surrounding me, and in fact most of my county, no one has any power. All the people I know in Houston now have their power back, but the people around me don't. We've been told it could be weeks until they retore power here.

Anyway, I don't get local Houston TV stations, but over the weekend my satellite provider was broadcasting KHOU 24 hour hurricane coverage. So I spent three days in front of the TV watching the destruction and the suffering. And since Monday when they turned that station off, I haven't been able to get any news of the latest developments besides what I can find online. My local news here has about 5 minutes of coverage, and I haven't been able to find anything on CNN. So, yes, I don't think there has been enough coverage.

As for people not evacuating. Do I think they made a stupid choice? Yes. However, it is partly the fault of local authorities and media who tried to downplay the impact of the storm and the chance it would come here. They didn't want a panic and mass evacuation. People did not expect this. The first we really heard it was headed directly for us was on Wednesday. There were a lot of people who started to make preparations to leave on Wednesday who woke up to find their cars floating on Thursday. There are also a lot of people who think they are hurricane experts because they live in Galveston and thought they would be fine. So yes, there's a lot of stupid out there, but it's also just human nature not to want to leave your home. I personally guarantee you that if the time ever comes when you have to leave all your possessions behind in a hurry, you'll find it's not as easy as you thought.

If you want more photos, try the Houston Chronicle. About halfway down the main page is a list of photo galleries. I couldn't find a direct link to all the galleries.
posted by threeturtles at 7:18 AM on September 17, 2008

As one who lived in Galveston, I can attest that it can take a good bit of time to prepare your home. When Rita was coming, we needed a whole day to prepare the house and get all the stuff out of the yard. Neither my partner nor I were physically capable of boarding up a two-story house, so we had to hire someone. He was literally working into the night doing that for us before we left early the following morning, the very day before Rita hit.

If we were still living on the Island, we would not have had time to complete all of this and leave, too, so we would have ended up camping out on the second floor with maybe seven or eight feet of water on our street and four feet of water in the house. At least being there, with a generator, we would be able to clean up after. If the current owners evacuated and do not get back quickly, the house will have to be gutted due to mold damage.

My point is, the question of leaving or staying has a lot going into it. If we were there, we would have left if we could, but I could envision staying and I understand people who stayed.
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:20 AM on September 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Also to consider: Many elderly people stayed because they remember the chaos of the Rita evacuation and were, rightly or wrongly, more afraid of that than afraid of the storm. There was that bus full of elderly evacuees that exploded just south of Dallas last time. And just recently there was a bus crash with dozens of fatalities near Sherman and a bunch of ensuing publicity about unsafe buses in Texas. I can envision those fears seeming more immediate to some people, especially those who weathered many other storms, even though evacuating was the more rational choice.
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:24 AM on September 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

I hope we realize how stupid it would be to rebuild Texas. What were those people thinking to live so close to the ocean? This would not have happened if people hadn't built there.
posted by 3.2.3 at 9:38 AM on September 16

I realize what you are doing, but I actually think it is perfectly reasonable to at least think about whether rebuilding Galveston is the best usage of state and federal funds or not.

And this has nothing to do with discriminating against coastal folks. There have been small towns along the Mississippi River that have been wiped out and abandoned after multiple destructions.

I think somewhere with such a weather-related history at Galveston should be considered "build at your own risk" areas.

If you choose to build there, realize it will be uninsured, and there will be no federal rebuilding funds.

Bargain property, but with risk. What's the problem?
posted by Ynoxas at 11:01 AM on September 17, 2008

Yeah, a devastating hurricane that wipes out a city once every one hundred and eight years should never be rebuilt forevermore, amen hallelujah.

God forbid San Francisco or Los Angeles falls apart from an earthqua...oh, wait.

Y'know, I've lived in many different places between Houston (where I've lived most my life) and Santa Barbara. I've been through two hurricanes. I've been through 6 earthquakes, 7 forest/wildfires, 3 mudslides, countless blizzards, and many many devastating floods. All outside of the coastal Texas area. To be fair, I've seen my share of flooding in Texas, too.

You know what, though? Where ever you live, you will face natural disasters. Our planet is a living one. I'll take one strong hurricane in my city every 25 years vs. California being, y'know, on fire every 5-10 years. I'll take one hurricane every 108 years that devastates one city over, y'know, being snowed in every winter, sometimes for days at a time, in the mountains of New Mexico.

Not all the time, but sometimes, I really loathe the sneering snobbery exhibited here.
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:42 PM on September 17, 2008 [2 favorites]

WolfDaddy: I assume you're responding to me, but I think you badly misunderstand if you think I'm exhibiting "sneering snobbery".

I'm merely saying such discussions are okay to at least have, and they do have precedent... as I said, I don't remember anyone getting upset on MeFi when entire towns disappeared along the Mississippi river and people simply said "fuck it, we're rebuilding 15 miles inland". But nobody gives a shit about rural America, right?

New Orleans is still a mess, with no real solid estimates as to when it will be "back to normal". I've read 3 years. I've read 7. I've read "never". The Galveston mayor said on TV it would be "at least a year" just for cleanup.

I'm not sure if you are aware or not, but our weather, she is changing.

What if Galveston starts getting decimated every 20 years? Every 5? Do you rebuild constantly to save something that certain people have an affinity for?

As I said, I think it is fair to at least consider some things like this, but other people, such as yourself, can't even rationally approach such a topic because it's special to you.

And if Los Angeles disappears into a gaping hole in the earth, then yeah, I think it's at least reasonable to at least consider doing something different with the rebuild.
posted by Ynoxas at 6:01 PM on September 17, 2008

Ynoxas, my "snobbery" comment wasn't directed at you specifically, but at a long line of comments going back at least as far as Katrina, directed at people who live in the South, in general, and Texas, in particular. I've got a long fuse on my temper, and it blew. My apologies.

As to the rest of your comments, sure such things as you mention can be considered for discussion. I highly, highly doubt that there will be "constant" rebuilding of any community, anywhere, due to constant natural disasters. The odds are against it, strongly so. By your lights, it seems to me that we should also be talking about clearing out Tornado Alley, or communities situated around the Ring of Fire, or any place west of the San Andreas Fault...all based on what might happen. As to the progress of rebuilding affected communities, I think the success or failure of such attempts speaks more to our society--even our species--and its choices over time than to the climate itself.

If Galveston is leveled again in 20 years, let's talk. Til then, I really have nothing further to add to the discussion you would like to have.
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:10 PM on September 17, 2008

I've been through those California fire seasons and a few earthquakes, too, and my partner grew up in an Indiana town that was hit by a killer tornado. I agree that natural disasters can happen anywhere. I also agree that it's important to know your risks and include it in your decisionmaking no matter where you live.

As for Galveston, we rebuilt it before with minimal Federal aid. The "discussion" has already been done, over a century ago, and most of the essential business of the area moved up to Houston. Now after Ike, most of the Island's buildings are still there and still structurally sound, although so much needs to be done to make them habitable again. Although I moved 50 miles inland, I still live in a coastal area, and I pay out the wazoo for my insurance. I expect that in the future I'll be paying higher rates, and I expect to get what I pay for. I don't expect much from FEMA, although I want critical aid for those who need it.

For the region as a whole, and not just Houston but New Orleans, too, we simply cannot afford to pull out. As a center of commerce and industry and science, the Gulf Coast is a powerhouse for the entire country. Whether it's petrochemicals or shipping grain or medical research, we can't do without the hard working people who live here through thick and thin.

Here in Texas, we do place a strong emphasis on taking personal responsibility and on neighbors helping neighbors. We've done that for our neighbors from Louisiana, time and again, with Katrina, Gustav, and other storms. They've done it for us. I'm sure we'll all do it again.

My mother grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi, and I was raised on stories of storms with names like "Alpha" and "Betsy." I grew up in San Antonio, wandered a few years, then moved here with full knowledge of the risks and rewards of living on the Coast. Whether it's on the water or a little bit inland, this is, quite simply, my home. I cannot imagine not living around here.

posted by Robert Angelo at 7:27 PM on September 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

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