Saturday, September 13, 2008


The Calm After the Storm

The Calm After the Storm
Austin Airwaves, 1:00pmC, Saturday 9/13/08

By now, those with a serious interest in the Hurricane Ike disaster are most likely tuned into CNN or the other networks. Houston's KHOU-TV is being re-broadcast regionally.

From Austin: Not a drop of rain, barely a breeze. 8 to 10 thousand evacuees in eighteenshelters. No major problems. Hotels full, roads full, but moving. Some gas shortages. Somegas price gouging. EOCs worked well. One of Austin's, and Texas' favorite taxes, the Hotel/Motel Bed Tax, has been canceled for the next ten days.

Compared to Katrina: The lessons of Katrina and Rita, and for that matter FEMA, appearto have been largely resolved. (It's also an election year...) By way of example, at this early hour, with winds just now slowing, multiple 500 vehicle military/civilian convoys are en route, each with a1000 national guard troops. Fleets of buses, ambulances, heavy duty vehicles, gas trucks, even fleets of choppers and C-140 "heavy lift" military aircraft, now heading south. The Hero of Katrina, Lt. General Russel Honore (AKA "the Black John Wayne" and "General Over," for his now famous habit of ending his answers with "over.") He now appears to be shilling for the Red Cross. See Spike Lee's deeply, deeply disturbing movie about the Katrina/FEMA disaster, "When the Levees Broke, Acts One & Two" (HBO) at:

(NOTE: this film has many ghastly images as in not recommended for kids or sensitive folks orunrepentant, racist Republicans. Or maybe it is...) Many Americans are still very angry abouthow Bush, Brownie, FEMA and the rest of their ilk helped massacre NOLA. I know I am.

From Galveston: How it survived this well is amazing. Several buildings burned to the ground,actually to the water; a few arrests for burglaries, etc. Notably, the memorial to the 1900 Hurricanewhich killed between 8 and 11 thousand (deaths estimates for non-whites were not added untilthe 1970s...) with the Angel of the Ocean, at the east end of Sea Wall Blvd. was completelydestroyed. See:

Before: With rising panic in their voices, officials were describing what was expectedto be a "tsunami surge" that was going to "race up the Houston Ship Channel," that wouldpose a "great and grave danger..."

After: Such a mess, but really, it's all pretty minor, not making light of the sitch. Thousands ofwindows, roofs, awnings, trees, business signs, dumpsters and boats thrown about and smashed.What will probably become an iconic image of Ike is the Chase Bank Building with most of itseast side windows, and office contents, now smashed to the ground. "It sounded like a million glass bottles breaking at once," said a survivor. Remarkably, still no reports of casualties. Some hospitals taking on water, isolated fires, power lines on the roads, etc.

KPFT/Pacifica: Still dark 1:00pmC A scary report of a chlorine tank leak in Surfside came early. Later report: leak capped.Buffalo Bayou (AKA "bubbling bayou," because of water bubbling up from manholes...) isstill rising, slowly, at this time. Again, no reports of casualties. Nearby Allen Parkway, siteof what is arguably the coolest event that ever happens in Houston, the Houston Art Car Parade, is deep under water. No signs of Art Boats. Yet.

Brennan's Restaurant, the popular, tony downtown Houston place to be seen: destroyed.

Across the Region: 2 million+ w/o power. Power ON in Central Texas. FEMA initially estimates $7.5 billion in damages. As usual, small towns on the Gulf Coast are largely cut off and rescue, reconn and reporting have just now begun. Some gas price gouging. Prices skyrocket at some locations, notably in Florida, to over $5 a gallon. At least 13% of US gas production is now off-line. Ike is STILL Cat One hurricane as it barrels up the TX/LA state line. Next target? Bryron/CollegeStation. Look out you Aggies!

Human Cost: Remarkably, absolutely remarkably, the death count, at 1 ;00pmC is THREE. Again, rescue and reconn, especially on the island and other low lying areas is just now starting.

"Jim! Amazingly, KHOU-TV is still streaming video live at worried for many many Texas friends, in radio and not in radio. I remember well your efforts during katrina...thanks for all you do. Stay safe." debbie s. fresno, ca
Houston "clear channel" AM station

Ham Radio Response: Thanks to Allen Sklar, Director of Engineering at Arizona Community Media Foundation in Tempe, AZ for this forward.

The ARRL Letter September 12, 2008
Hurricane Ike Eyeing Galveston Island ARRL Audio News <>

ATTENTION ALL AMATEURS: With Hurricane Ike fast approaching landfall in the Gulf Coast area, Net operations in the upper portions of 80, 40 and 20 meters have been activated. The ARRL asks Amateur Radio operators tobe considerate of these Nets -- if you are asked to change frequencies because you're on a Net for Hurricane Ike operations, please cooperate. HURRICANE IKE EYEING GALVESTON ISLAND Hurricane Ike -- currently a Category 2 hurricane, but expected to reachCategory 3 status sometime today -- is poised to make landfall near Galveston Island around 3 AM early Saturday, if it keeps on its current track and speed. Hams in Texas and Louisiana have had a bit of abreather since Hurricane Gustav <> came throughtwo weeks ago. ARRL Section leadership in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma,Mississippi and Arkansas reported in ongoing conference calls with ARRL Headquarters that they are ready for Ike. According to ARRL South Texas Section Emergency Coordinator MikeSchwartz, KG5TL, the following counties in South Texas have receivedmandatory evacuation orders: San Patricio, Aransas, Matagorda, Brazoria,Galveston, Chambers, Jefferson, Hardin and Orange. Calhoun, Victoria andJackson have been issued voluntary evacuation orders, while certain ZIPcodes in Harris County -- home of Houston, the country's fourth largestcity -- received mandatory evacuation orders. Schwartz said that Emergency Management Officials in New Braunfels have requested Amateur Radio communications support."People are heading out of town, up Interstate 45, out of Houston, and Interstate 290, to San Antonio," Schwartz said. Austin, the state capital, is in the South Texas Section, and Schwartz said that that city will serve as the State's marshalling center. Schwartz also reported that ARES and RACES groups have been working in tandem "very well" with each other. Amateur Radio operators are providing support to FEMA Region VI during Hurricane Ike, Swan said, "through the establishment of a coordination communications link that state agencies can request FEMA support, as well as to respond to requests from FEMA for information that agencies can use in their response to those impacted by Hurricane Ike." FEMA Region VI covers the states of Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana. "FEMA has been very pleased with the activity and support of Amateur Radio here in the North Texas Section," Swan said.Swan said that the coordination link "will provide the basis for future interfaces with FEMA as the amateur community in Region VI seeks ways to provide support as a part of the National Response Framework,specifically to the Emergency Support Function #2 of that Framework that deals with communications. It will also serve to identify those areas where Amateur Radio can provide a service to FEMA. The role of Amateur Radio is still evolving, but it is clear that the amateur community can assist in providing interoperability between agencies at the local, state and national level." A 2 meter link has been opened to FEMA Regional Headquarters in Denton, just north of Dallas.

And in closing, this from Houston radio's infamous Scooter: "Still here!"

Houston dispatch.
It's Tuesday morning, I still don't have power. With the cool spell passed the hot nights by candlelight are getting a lot less "quaint". The schools are still closed, I've been working with my child with me at work for a week now and her school reopening is still listed as "pending". KPFT finally went back on the air yesterday playing the BBC all day and when 5:30 rolled around and the BBC was still on I finally broke and called E and said, "where the hell is the local news?!" It was bad enough such an important community resource was dark all this time we NEEDED it and they finally get on the air and that poor excuse for a news dept can even manage an update. pathetic. I may be starting to lose my charitable patience, not just with them, but because of the long long days of "recovery".
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