aftermath

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Archive for September 2008

Signs of Recovery from Ike

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Signs we’re getting over Ike:

  • Soap operas return to daytime TV. (Which just means we stop watching TV once again. It also means it gets that much more difficult to get good information about Ike recovery, since most of us remain without power, Internet access, some of us even without access to our homes; and for many, TV had been the only source of what little information there was to be had about Ike recovery.)
  • The front page of the Houston Chronicle covers non-Ike news. (Yes, apparently some do seem more worried about the hurricane-force winds ripping into Wall Street. At least McCain and Obama continue to remain off the front page, we do have Ike to thank for that, at least.)
  • The USPS shows up at the mailbox. (With as much junk mail as ever. The postman’s presence also reiterates that we are in one of the neighborhoods that was not completely devastated by Ike – in too many other neighborhoods, he would find no mailbox to deliver mail to.)

Still no word, good hand, or any other sign from our Allstate agent, claims adjuster, or any other Allstate rep. Then again, Allstate is making it quite clear they’re not going to be worth using as a sign of Ike recovery.

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - houstonian

Written by macheide

20 September 2008 at 12:28 pm

Posted in Houstonian

Bantamweight vs Super Heavyweight

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Blue is declared the winner after Kitty abandons the ring.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - monarda

Written by macheide

20 September 2008 at 12:09 pm

Posted in monarda

Mouse Hunt

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Blue points his nose where he wants the cursor to go.

I do my best to follow along with the mouse.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - monarda

Written by macheide

20 September 2008 at 8:26 am

Posted in monarda

How Not To Feel Your Pain

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“I absolutely understand they want to get back to their homes. … I’d like to get back to the mansion.”

– Texas Governor Rick Perry
(who has been living in temporary quarters
since the governor’s official residence burned down in June)

Mansion? Nice way to show how poorly you understand your constituents’ plight, gov. You’ve been shacking it up on a cot under a borrowed blanket in a Red Cross center since you “lost” your home, then?

You absolutely don’t get it, do you. Yes, thousands here no longer have a roof over their heads. But as important as is the stark contrast between their current day-to-day temporary housing versus your taxpayer-given alternative quarters, bound to be quite comfy even for you, that’s far from being all there is to losing one’s home to Ike.

  • Chores – It’s not just having that roof over your head; it’s day-to-day life under that roof. Thousands of your constituents not only have no home that will remain standing after condemnation; they can’t even get back to start the clean-up process. Losing your mansion didn’t even force you to make those incessant phone calls trying to reach that suddenly absent Allstate agent. Getting back into your mansion is something your staff is busy working on, not something that is consuming your every waking moment and stealing your sleep every night.
  • Food – You’re not back home when you’re still living hand-to-mouth off of FEMA deliveries of MREs. Families left homeless by Ike want their own refrigerators, their own stoves, to do their own grocery shopping. Losing your mansion may have changed where you eat some of your meals, but no doubt didn’t make you miss a single one, nor altered the quality of your diet.
  • Schools – Countless of your constituents’ children are now officially classified as “homeless,” making it possible for them to be enrolled in public schools hundreds of miles from their own homes, with strange teachers and strange co-students in strange classrooms. Losing your mansion didn’t even touch any of your staff’s families that way, not even remotely.
  • Mail (Yes, Including Bills) – Being put out on the street by Ike has left thousands with no mailbox for USPS delivery, and arrangements for having mail forwarded to temporary quarters are slow, painful, and unreliable. Losing your mansion did nothing to your staffs’ abilities to continue getting your mail in your inbox.
  • Clothes – So terribly many of your constituents have little more than the clothes on their backs, and desperately wish they had so much as a local laundromat with power in which to get those clothes clean. No doubt you lost a fancy suit or two in your mansion’s blaze, but just as doubtless you never had to wear the same underwear unlaundered for a week without promise of when or from where your new wardrobe might magically appear.
  • Furnishings – Probably you lost some personal items when the governor’s mansion went up in smoke, but almost everything in the place was there when you got there, belonged to the state; and the mansion will be refurnished for you before you return, without you needing to trouble yourself. Many of your constituents lost their own beds, their own sofas, their kitchenware and lawn mowers, all of their personal belongings. When they finally return to their homes, it will be to scenes of ruin you absolutely show no sign of understanding.
  • Car – Thousands of your constituents will be returning to their wrecked houses in the one car they used for evacuation. After authorities publicly chided evacuees, blaming them for contributing to the Rita fiasco by taking too many cars, this time more evacuees were “responsible” enough to car-pool, leaving behind vehicles that are now ruined. Losing your mansion hasn’t affected your travel whatsoever.
  • Work – Thousands of your constituents will not be able to return to work for weeks, maybe even months. Many of those will never have a job to return to. Unfortunately, you’ll have no such luck until voters have another chance to express themselves at the polls.

Yes, your constituents who have lost their homes to Ike want that roof over their heads once again. But what they want far more is what they have lost infinitely more: they want their life back. While you whine about your mansion.

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - houstonian

Written by macheide

20 September 2008 at 7:30 am

Posted in Houstonian

In Amputated Hands

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After the storm, our Allstate insurance agent’s phone just flips over to voice mail during business hours. Leave a message, and we get no call back. All week long after the hurricane has passed, it’s been so far. Any good Houston insurance agent would not have even waited to get that first call from his customers. He would know that it is almost certain they would need him, and before the storm had left the northside of town he would have been on the phone himself, personally making arrangements for his clientele. Allstate? Their agent shows no signs of caring, none whatsoever.

So, two days after the storm has passed, they have an emegency claim center set up nearby. Not that one would know this from any of those so-called “good hands” commercials they plaster all over the local television’s hurricane coverage (nor are such claims center locations given in that do-nothing voice mail on the agent’s phone): one has to find a claim center such as this completely on one’s own. Had we gone out this parking lot by any other exit, we would have missed even this random site. But don’t bother wasting that precious fuel so scarce in Houston these days trying to figure out where this pic was taken: coming to this van does you no good, beyond getting yourself a claim number, which could just as easily have been done by calling their national emergency hotline (which at least had a person on the other end of the line, as contrasted with the local agent).

Either way, having that claim number doesn’t seem to get you anywhere either. We had that in hand within 12 hours after Ike had made landfall and left his mark on our house sufficiently for us to know we’d need our homeowners’ insurer around. All that claim number got us was an assignment to a claims adjuster . . . who, once finally reached (only after repeated followup calls from us), seemed quite confused about why a clearly communicated, detailed home claim from a Houston hurricane had been assigned to an auto (?!?) claims adjuster all the way over in Louisiana.

Ah, but so now we’re on the right track, yes? Not so. We’re in Allstate‘s hands, which means – as we’ve already been told by yet another Allstate rep (still not our own local agent) – that we have absolutely no more clue than they do as to when we might expect to hear anything whatsoever from our insurer on our claim. Don’t they need to look at the water damage in our attic? Big shrug from Allstate. How about all the work we’ve already had done on those fallen trees in our backyard? Maybe Allstate would like to have a pet insurance adjuster check that one out. Aha, rain expected to be back in the area this weekend, that together with all the damaged Houston roofs should give them a sense of urgency, wouldn’t you think? Not – they’re too busy updating their TV commercials.

And all of those Allstate TV commercials? More hot air than anything Ike threw at Houston.

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - homeowner

Written by macheide

18 September 2008 at 9:37 pm

Posted in homeowner

Hurricane Ike Aftermath

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The center of Hurricane Ike passed us shortly after 3:30am CDT on Saturday, September 13, only about 15 miles away, at the time still boasting maximum sustained wind near 110mph and hurricane-force winds extending as far as 125 miles from center. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by macheide

18 September 2008 at 5:31 pm

Posted in Mother Nature

Blue Roof

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Almost a week after our first of many post-Ike attempts to reach Allstate, no agent, claims adjuster, nor any other Allstate rep shows the slightest interest in any of this information, apparently waiting until it’s time for them to put their bad hands to work attempting to deny or contest any damage claim.

What Ike did to our house and yard:

  1. Roof – Tore off shingles in numerous patches on the roof. As Allstate continued ignoring its Ike customers even as new rain threatened damaged roofs, we had to make our own arrangements for temporary “blue roof” tarp to cover the roof areas requiring repair. Leaking through those areas during Ike left some of the attic insulation damp, meaning that insulation needed to be be discarded and replaced. Leaking down the corner of Nat’s upstairs bedroom damaged some of the interior paint. Severe leaking into an upstairs bathroom light may require replacement of that fixture. (Note: All hurricane cautions I have read from all official sources strongly advise against turning electricity back on for any electrical outlets or fixtures that were soaked as badly as this fixture was, until after the house electrical circuits have been checked by a licensed electrician. Is Allstate going to persist in ignoring its Ike customers, then try to deny claims for such services that are so strongly advised, or would they rather I take the risk in having the house burn down with potential loss of life?)
     
  2. Window – One living room window has been severely cracked and will need to be replaced.
     
  3. Fence and Landscaping – Two of the trees added to our backyard for our pool landscaping were ripped up by the roots and needed to be chopped up for disposal. Fencing near those two trees and along other sections of the back edge of the yard was destroyed.

Of course, Ike also dumped a lot of debris in the pool, but that left no permanent damage, nothing that a few post-Ike swims couldn’t take care of. And as brief as our power loss was (under 12 hours), that was still enough to send some of our refrigerator contents to the trash, but that bit of loss has to be expected of a hurricane.

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - homeowner

Written by macheide

18 September 2008 at 4:20 pm

Posted in homeowner

Ike Recovery Multitasking

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This past Monday, trash collection took normal trash, but left the pile of tree debris we had stacked out at the curb. Houston says its trash service will pick up storm debris; but our neighborhood contracts out with Waste Management, and of course there’s no readily available information to be had on what their policy will be or when it might be carried out. Our lawn service doesn’t chop debris, but did agree to haul it off next week. Even so, it’s relaxing to chop it all up myself, whereupon Susan will bag it, whereupon our trash collection will take it as if it were normal trash. (And after I took the lion’s share out by the pool for chopping, as pictured here, today’s trash collection did take the small orderly stack of debris that remained at the curb; so after this pile has been chopped and bagged, we will be done.)

But as lazy as this Ike recovery effort probably appears compared to what most Ike victims face, at least I’m multitasking. That’s not my Zen mp3 player piped into my ears; it’s my cell phone. I’m on a conference call, discussing government regulations that will extend relief for companies adversely affected by Hurricane Ike.

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - choreograph

Written by macheide

18 September 2008 at 11:09 am

Posted in choreograph

Post-Ike Commuting

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Getting America’s 4th largest city up and moving again is a bit of a chicken-egg exercise run by committee, with FEMA still playing after-the-fact games, the state completely AWOL, and everyone else just working it minute to minute to minute as best as can be expected. Auto fuel supplies being virtually non-existent on the south side of town. We hear that there are stations with long lines stretching several hours worth of waiting but still pumping gas in the far northwest suburbs, somewhere about midway between the main evacuation routes. But down near South Belt, a key early intersection for the main body of evacuees, we can’t count on anything but fumes anytime soon, it seems.

Late last week, Houston Mayor White publicly encouraged non-evacuees to leave the dwindling gas supplies for evacuees, seeming to forget that such a strategy would leave him with over 2 million citizens running on empty. Brain-addled University of Houston jumped the gun, re-opening this past Tuesday, even before the city had sufficient water pressure to flush toilets for returning students and even before all campus entrances were unflooded or cleared of debris, apparently oblivious to the fact that students dutifully driving in on Tuesday were likely not going to have enough gas to make it back in anytime soon, not if they’d been following the Mayor’s advice. And even trying to bring fuel trucks into town seems useless until gas stations have electricity to run the pumps.

Susan gassed up the Bitty Burb just before Ike hit, mayor be damned. And I still had just under 3/4 of a tank, as shown above at the beginning of my first post-Ike commute this morning, enough for maybe 3 trips to the office before I start feeling completely stranded, since I’ve been getting close to 40mpg. But Nat had only enough left for that one trip into UH on Tuesday; and Kelly ran his tank bone dry right into the storm.

Note for Next Time: Let other evacuees deal with it as they see fit, without interfering with our own need to be prepared – fill up every car, and have extra on hand!!

 

But we do seem to have turned the corner. More gas stations are open in our neighborhood on my outbound commute this morning than when I made my inbound commute scarcely two hours earlier. And it’s quite common to see caravans of utility vehicles on their way to their next site for bringing electricity back to the area.

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

//www.internetbumperstickers.com] - abelian

Written by macheide

18 September 2008 at 9:21 am

Posted in abelian

Office Closed

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The automated message on my governmental employer’s emergency notification service notifies me that our office will remain closed at least through the remainder of the week. But we still have no Internet access at the house. And even hitchhiking via wireless won’t help me get back on track for most of my work: I need a secure cable connection to my job’s network. So with dim hopes that my building’s network might be up and running despite the office closure, I commuted in this morning.

Morning traffic was only mildly lighter than would be expected of an ordinary weekday rush hour. Most of it probably Ike recovery traffic, heading for a gas station or grocery store or hardware store or POD. None of it headed to my office building, for which the garage had no more than half a dozen other cars keeping my Blue Bug company.

No luck with the office network. So after two quick business calls, I headed back out to the office garage for an early outbound commute. Snapping a pic of the only visible Ike damage to our building: broken glass panes in the corridor between the building and the garage.

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - deskjob

Written by macheide

18 September 2008 at 7:39 am

Posted in deskjob

only am ice for you

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i am the unintended consequence of a random fugue of my rogue imagination

echoing a meme from susan

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - not me

Written by macheide

17 September 2008 at 1:01 am

Posted in not meme

Ike Recovery Order

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Assuming that you have lost all public services due to Ike, rank in order (“1” being first, of course, then successively on) your personal preference for the order by which you would want restoration of services (with the order listed here not intended to suggest any particular desired preference):

___ Electricity
___ Water / Sewage
___ Home Gas (e.g., for stove, water heater, backyard grill, etc.)
___ Automobile Gas
___ Satellite/Cable TV
___ Landline Phone Access
___ Cell Phone Network Access
___ Internet Access
___ Trash Pickup
___ Grocery Store (with all basics available)
___ Postal Delivery
___ Airport
___ Mass Transit (bus, light rail, etc.)
___ Other (Identify) ___________________
___ Other (Identify) ___________________
___ Other (Identify) ___________________
___ Other (Identify) ___________________
___ Other (Identify) ___________________
___ Other (Identify) ___________________

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - houstonian

Written by macheide

15 September 2008 at 10:09 am

Posted in Houstonian

Ike Church Cleanup

with one comment

Yesterday after Ike’s departure, Susan and I went up the street to the Lutheran church where she works. Since the minister had evacuated to Austin, we were the first ones in to check the place out for damage beyond the obvious – Ike’s wind had taken the steeple down.

Since the church was included with us as one of the lucky few to have power restored already, we returned today to help out by getting most of the water up off the carpet in the church sanctuary, putting my trusty steam cleaner to task. Best as I can estimate, I managed to get over 50 gallons of some rather unholy water up, converting long stretches of carpet from very squishy to barely damp. We expect they’ll probably still need to rip up this carpet to replace it, but getting this water up and out still helped them start their cleanup.

And gave me some well-needed exercise!

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - adrien

Written by macheide

14 September 2008 at 1:51 pm

Posted in Adrien

Hell or High Water

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One single metric does not suffice to warn people of a pending hurricane threat. Calling Ike a 2 left far too many people unprepared. And trying to emphasize Ike was a “strong 2” just 1mph below a 3 didn’t help. Weather forecasters would do better to work toward educating people on a 4-metric system: wind – rainfall – surge – intensity. And like has been done with the existing single-metric scale, so as to build on common public understanding of relative degree of threat, construct the new metrics so that they also go from 1 through 5, exponentially.

  1. Wind – Yes, do keep the existing scale based on wind speed. Potential damage to roofs, structures, blowing debris, and other wind-related risks is obviously one critical aspect of a hurricane.
     
  2. Rainfall – Allison didn’t even make it to a cat 1 and accordingly posed little or no threat to structural integrity vis a vis wind damage, but was of course a sufficiently severe rainfall threat to make Allison the only tropical storm that never reached hurricane status yet had its name retired. Perhaps the metric here could be developed from the forward speed of the storm, since a stalled storm dumps far more rain.
     
  3. Storm Surge – Ike will be remembered more for its surge than for its winds, while its rain was hardly a shrug. For this metric, look to wave levels as the storm approaches perhaps.
     
  4. Intensity – Or duration, something that indicates the momentum behind the storm. Like how getting hit by a 110mph train is a hell of a difference from being hit by a 110mph feather. Ike was huge, with hurricane-force winds extending some 120 miles from center as it approached land. That meant it would last longer inland after landfall, indeed was said to have built up more kinetic energy than any other hurricane for the past 40 years. People were insufficiently warned of what that threat meant.

So Allison might have been tagged a 0-4-0-3, so residents in low-lying areas with high flash flood risk would know their threat to be very high and of somewhat extended duration. And shoreline residents might not have shrugged so much at Ike if it had been tagged a 2-1-4-5. Whereas a 4-1-1-1 would tell mobile home residents to beware even if the relative duration of the storm were to be brief. While something like a 2-2-1-5 would warn residents that storm threats would persist very far inland.

Such a system would not be overly complicated to communicate, especially if they built it up on a 5-must system similar to the existing scale. People already juggle multiple numbers in numerous situations, from blood pressure readings to stock market swings to sports standings. Is it too much to ask that we have the necessary information for something so life-threatening as a hurricane?

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - macheïde

Written by macheide

14 September 2008 at 6:24 am

Posted in macheide

Inland Damage from Ike

with one comment

Compared to the utter devastation down at Gilchrist and Crystal Beach and Port Bolivar, it feels almost petty to show some of what Ike did inland, near us. Even so, this video walk along several streets in the Kirkwood South neighborhood near Beamer and Beltway 8, taken about 12 hours after Ike made landfall in Galveston, is pretty much what you will see step after step after step, mile after mile, if you walk around here perpendicular to Ike’s path. Turn and walk the 20+ miles from here down to Galveston, and it only gets worse the closer you get to the Gulf.

[And I can’t resist adding a side comment about YouTube’s practice of selecting one frame from any video to represent what you can expect to see once you hit play. I challenge any viewer: Is it possible to find any frame in this clip with any less damage than the one picked out by YouTube editors??? Like, you can’t be any less representative than YouTube must have strained to be on this one. (Maybe they work as insurance adjusters on the side?)]

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - houstonian

Written by macheide

13 September 2008 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Houstonian

Partly Unplugged

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About 15 minutes shy of 12 hours. That’s how long we went without power at our house on account of Ike. Barely enough time for the storm to even move over us: winds were already gale force when our power finally went out the final time, after flicking off then back on over a dozen times as the storm approached; and leftover wind was still brisk when our power returned. Our neighborhood must have won the power lottery: almost nobody in Houston and surrounding areas can boast of having power back before 12:53pm on the same day Ike hit; and too many will be forced to wait a week or much longer before they again have electricity.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by macheide

13 September 2008 at 12:53 pm

Posted in unplugged

Cereal Party!!

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Nat has heard me recount nostalgically of cereal parties I’ve held before, so wanted to give me one for my birthday earlier this week. Being as that was a weekday, not the best timing for a good cereal party, Susan suggested postponing until this weekend. And there ain’t much better a day for a cereal party than a day when everyone is hunkering down for an incoming hurricane.

Joined by Lindsey, we shared eight cereals, the standard count (five being the bare minimum, and anything over ten being too much unless the party extends through the whole day). Their selection missed a few basics, such as Wheaties or Raisin Bran, but all in all did have a good balance. A small bowl of each cereal for each of us, leaving me as the only one with enough stomach to finish off with one final bowl containing a mix of all eight cereals.

Thanks, Nat! Perfect breakfast for a hurricane watch morning!

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - adrien

Written by macheide

12 September 2008 at 10:54 am

Posted in Adrien