Friday, September 23, 2005

HELPLESS IN HURRICANES

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis, tent maker supreme

News continues--1:40am EDT
According to forecasts now, the winds are at 126 mph sustained! And in 30 hours will drop to 100 mph. This means it will be very vicious until Monday morning? Amazing. One forecaster is calling for it to shoot away from Texas and end up directly hitting my mountain. I hope it does, the other forecasts are for something very awful, a stalled hurricane that won't drop below 65mph winds until Wednsday.

Some of the readers here were right about the eye striking mainly Louisiana. It is going ashore right now at Port Charles. This is where a great number of refineries are. Gas is going to be hard to get and dear in price starting next week if not tomorrow.

More News--1:15am EDT
This photo just came in on Yahoo.
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Can we arrest these traitors now? Seriously. I will note now that all the hooey about none of the oil rigs, refineries being hit by this vast hurricane, guess what?

They are being savaged by it.

Here is a picture from Galveston:
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Like on 9/11, the firemen go where it is nearly impossible to go and fight valiantly against all odds, risking their lives for us. A moment of silence for them. Hope they fare well tonight. They aren't laughing, that is certain.

Breaking news--1am EDT
From CNN:

When asked how long the storm would affect Texas and Louisiana, Mayfield offered a dour prediction.

"I'm afraid we're talking about days," he said. "The immediate concern is the coastline tonight and tomorrow morning, but then after that, for the next four or five days, we need to be very careful about the inland fresh-water flooding."

In downtown Galveston, Texas, video showed heavy smoke and a blizzard of blowing embers as firefighters tried to control large fires in at least two buildings. One of the buildings was destroyed. It was unclear whether anyone was inside them.

Firefighters were hindered by gusty winds of up to 70 mph, which fanned the flames. CNN's Sean Callebs said the winds apparently blew off the roof of a downtown multi-story hotel.

Ninety percent of the city, where it was raining Friday night, was evacuated in anticipation of Rita, officials said earlier.

Steve Rinard, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, Louisiana, told The Associated Press that tornado warnings were "popping up like firecrackers."

Forecasters say Rita will make landfall early Saturday near Port Arthur, Texas. The city of about 58,000 people is home to a port and several oil refineries and chemical plants, according to the chamber of commerce's Web site.

Port Arthur Mayor Oscar Ortiz said most of the residents had fled, but "I'm afraid we're going to get it real bad."

Ortiz said he was concerned about Rita moving across Sabine Pass -- where Sabine Lake, a salt water estuary on the Texas-Louisiana border, flows into the Gulf of Mexico -- and pushing a large surge of water toward the city.
Oh, those poor people. Even solid houses will be hopeless in all this, I worry about my family, strangers, everyone. This is very distressing to witness from afar.


BAD NEWS---12:45am EDT
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All but one forecaster is calling for this huge hurricane to pull a Mitch on us. Namely, it will stall out and then suddenly either back up and head back into the Gulf to become a new hurricane again or it will go in a circle, destroying everything, dropping several FEET of rain or it might, and only one agency is forecasting this, traipsy across the South, causing floods but not catastrophe.

Right now, most bets are for it to do the worst possible thing a huge hurricane can do: sit there.

&spades I know tents. Hugely. Massively. I lived in a tent complex I built out of odds and ends scavanged from the town dump and work sites. Lived on a mountain in a tent city for ten long difficult years. The picture you see is from the second year. The complex had seven more rooms and sub sections added for the ox stalls, the horse stalls, the sheep holding pen, the workshops, etc. It was around 2,500 sq ft when I finished the house and we all moved out.

From the NYT:
"We're now facing another big storm," Mr. Bush said while at FEMA. "Our job is to prepare for and assist state and local people to save lives and help these people get back on their feet."

Federal officials declared a public health emergency for Texas and Louisiana.

By evening it was the cities along the border of Texas and Louisiana that seemed to be in the storm's direct path. "The core of Hurricane Rita will make landfall along the southwest Louisiana and upper Texas coasts near daybreak," the National Hurricane Center said.

Communities evacuated, and residents huddled in shelters. Port Arthur, normally a town of 60,000 protected by a seawall built to sustain a 16-foot storm surge, was vacant but for a few who refused to leave.

Lake Charles, La., a city of about 72,000 just east of the Texas line, was also effectively empty, from the casino boats floating at the docks downtown to the rooms at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, which evacuated 132 patients on Friday, most on planes flown from the former Chennault Air Force Base.
And in San Augustine Park, 90 miles north of Beaumont, hundreds of people from southeast Texas set up camp in recreational vehicles and tents in the densely forested park run by the Army Corps of Engineers despite warnings of tornadoes, falling trees and rising lake waters. "There aren't any hotels and we couldn't get gas to go any farther north," said one, Dennis Cargill of Orangefield.

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Note the camp grounds are where the red star is. It is right in the path of the eye of the hurricane.
Oh my god. Oh my god! Heaven help those people. The winds of the hurricane will be hurricane force there! And the rain! Geeze. Why aren't they being taken to real shelters? If 25" of rain falls and this is very likely now, they will all die.
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Here is the wind charts. Note that already, hurricane force winds are hitting the coast. They will extend at least 100 miles inland, well past this tent city! And the lake is south of the camp and the winds will push the water north and I know camp grounds. Nearly all of them are on low, flat areas.

Oh, do I know about foul weather and tents!

My tent complex was very strong for it was designed like yurts in Mongolia. Lots of dense cross members of thin slats of wood, you could walk on the roof which I covered every year with new tarps. But the wind! Oh my god.

One storm, it was so bad, everything was shaking violently and flexing, this was a blizzard. The gusts were more than 80 mph and we took several 30' logging chains which weigh around 50lbs each and threw them over the tent and secured them to the trunks of 100 year old trees. We still thought we were going to die.

Another was a flood. 6" of rain in a few hours. "A river runs through it," laughed a friend who was visiting. We had this huge pump which we ran frantically for hours as the water poured under our feet. My son played in a channel I made with a shovel, pretending to fish, floating his toys. I was running around, yelling. putting things up high and higher. What a night that was!

Then there was the violent summer squall that killed almost a dozen campers. I ran across the fields, screaming for John and Chris to forget bailing the hay, get under cover now, a horrible storm was coming and then boom. It hit, the trees bent to the ground, the wind ripped off parts of the tent, we clutched everything and prayed, lying in our tornado hole under the big bed.

We survived that.

Then there was hurricane Hugo. Yes, it came here, still had, in the mountains, winds over 60mph and it tore up the place, a tree split in two and fell between the tent and the chicken tent. We all surived that! It was a close call!

Well.

Those poor people are in a park full of dangerous trees. They are going to get winds that are minimum, 70mph sustained and with gusts up to 100mph not to mention tornadoes. They have flimsy modern tents, not powerful yurts with thick cloth walls, the felt over an inch thick, just thin nylon which falls apart immediately under strong winds, not to mention, you blow away.

My steel stakes were six feet tall and driven at least 18" to 24" into the ground! And they would really get yanked in high winds!

This news really distresses me because most people think camping is a lark. Look at all the scouts hit by lightning while camping this year! We know people killed by lightning while camping, one man was sitting on an icebox and the bolt traveled down a tree, through the roots and up into him, blowing him away. I have been hit by lightning in a tent!

Tents are dangerous in storms! And hurricanes?

God help those poor people!

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