(or: How to Tell Everyone You’ll Be Just Fine)
The major theme of this morning has been “people have no idea how big Houston is, or where urban Houston is relative to the Gulf, and consequently fear the country’s 4th largest metro area is in danger of being Katrina-ized by Rita.” Let’s clear things up a bit.
- While Galveston is part of metro Houston, the island is easily 60 or so miles due south of downtown. Houston is big.
- Which brings up the other point: Galveston is an island. I think they evacuate for Category 2 if not 1.
- The mainland areas being evacuated are all near the gulf or the large inland bay/lake called Clear Lake (it’s not, FYI). That makes them vulnerable to the storm surge.
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WIND is not the evacuation driver.
People flee the SURGE,
and we’re a long-ass way from that.
It’ll take more than a Category 4 to force an evacuation of urban Houston. In fact, according to the evacuation planning map, not even a Category 5 storm does it (on the map, Heathen World HQ is under the I-45 icon at the center). All the areas named in the Chronicle story are pretty far away from our home and my office, both of which are near downtown and therefore very far away from even a Katrina-sized surge.
There are areas in urban Houston that are prone to flooding, and they get water every now and then — and may well as a consequence of this storm — but they’re known to be low, so this surprises no one. They abut bayous or the drainage system, e.g. The vast majority of Houston stays very dry — no one in my neighborhood, for example, had water during Allison in 2001. Allison was only a tropical storm, but she moved slowly and came on the heels of a very wet month; there was nowhere for the water to go. This summer, on the other hand, has been pretty dry (VERY dry lately, in fact).
It’ll get windy. Some trees may fall. Some streets will flood, some fools will try to drive in it, and some people may die through foolishness or bad luck. But Erin and I aren’t planning on going anywhere. Hell, we’ve got a party on Saturday.
Now: where’d I put the rum?