Making Plans Monday, Sep 15 2008 

Making Plans

14 September 2008

Warning:  What follows is a long-winded commentary having nothing whatsoever to do with the above photo.  For those dear friends who just don’t feel like reading another rant by MaritaBeth, please know that I forgive you.   😉  Feel free to skip to the very end of this post and just read the last paragraph.  But, if you take the time to read the whole thing, I’d love to hear your points of view!  Please comment!

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Yesterday, I wrote that the storm (Hurricane Ike) didn’t seem to have been as bad as we’d feared it would be.  That may be true.  And, since most of our friends were far enough north and/or west, or had evacuated to even safer spots, our friends seem to be fine.  Many without power, some downed limbs, and one house now in need of new shingles, but the people are fine.  Even at TRF, all seems to be well.  I will continue to check in on folks I haven’t heard from yet,  but so far we are thankful. 

Our beloved Galveston Island itself, however, does not seem to have fared so well.  I have been trying to find everything I can possibly read regarding the damage there, and the current conditions.  It seems that more than two thousand people defied evacuation orders and are now needing to be removed from the island.  Most of those no longer have transportation of their own, so it falls to the Red Cross, FEMA, and other volunteer organizations and emergency services to help these folks.  It is good that such organizations exist to help.  It seems ridiculous to me, however, that they must use their energies and resources to now help those who didn’t bother to help themselves last Thursday and Friday. <sigh>

I read that over forty structures in Galveston are no more.  We know of the loss of restaurants, shoppes and at least one hotel out on the seawall.  Kyle saw one heartwrenching photo of the remaining corner of an older home—the corner where the 1900 Storm Survivor placque was mounted.  One Flickr photographer has a couple of photos of the historic Strand about four feet under water, and that was from Friday!  I’m still trying to track down information about other parts of Historic Galveston, and of course, the Tremont Hotel in particular. 

What we do know, is that it will be quite some time before things can return to any semblance of normal, there.  Storm damage to city infrastructure is severe—there is no power, no water, no sewage.  That means, of course, that the area is basically uninhabitable.  Those crazy enough to try to stay have already and will continue to place themselves and those who will eventually have to rescue them, in danger of injury and disease. 

I don’t get it.

Many who know me well, will remember that I have always had a very healthy fear of earthquakes. (I know, this seems non-sequitor, but bear with me.) Earthquakes petrify me, mostly because with our current technology, we are almost helpless to forecast them.  I know the experts are working on this, but basically, if you live in a zone where fault lines and seismic activity are commonplace, you simply never know when it’s going to happen.  And for all of my lifetime, we’ve been half expecting “the big one” that causes most of California to fall into the ocean.  That scares me to death—no warning, just instant ocean-front property in Arizona! 

In the process of explaining (or justifying) my fear, I’ve always pointed to hurricanes as natural disasters you can “live with.”  I grew up in the northeast, where although fewer than here near the Gulf of Mexico, hurricanes were a potential part of summer.  You learned how to put away lawn ornaments and furniture, take down awnings, even board up windows.  You knew “what to do.”  And here in Texas, where almost every season seems to bring a good scare or two, its even more accepted that we get warning, and we can prepare.  Sure, we never know exactly what Mother Nature is going to throw at us, but we have a pretty good idea, thanks to the folks at NOAA, and decades worth of experience.  We know sometimes weeks in advance that there’s a potential threat.  We can watch the tropical storm via satellite, see what it does in the Caribbean, and mentally prepare.  Then, the experts create charts and graphs and maps that tell us what the storm will likely do.  We have time to board up windows, move furniture to higher ground, and make travel plans!  Then, ultimately, we have time to save ourselves, if not our property.  

How ignorant does a person have to be, to ignore all those warnings?  How selfish does a human have to be to place the lives of his pets and even his children in danger due to his own stubbornness?  Nowhere to go?  That’s what the Red Cross would rather do—provide shelters and food and clothing for those displaced.  If they could concentrate their energies there, and not have to spend as much time and money rescuing those who didn’t bother to heed the warnings . . . . GRRRR!  It makes me crazy!

I read one article this morning, where someone who was just now leaving Galveston, was quoted as saying, “next time they should warn us about this, not about the storm.”  She was referring to the lack of city services, the sewage in the streets, the decaying food, the smell . . . where has she been?  I saw and heard and read many a warning, that the aftermath of the storm would be just as bad or worse for people, than the storm itself.  And really, how much intelligence does it take to know what’s at stake?

Did I mention, I don’t get it?

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Addendum:  I know I’m not alone.  Here is a very nice article on an MSNBC Blog by journalist Mark Potter. In case my link isn’t permanent and you later have to search archives:  the name of the article is “Hard Lessons in Hurricane’s Aftermath.”

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My photo today is of Kyle at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival site.  He’s sketching the back of our East Wind Games booth, so that we can get serious about our plans to do some needed booth improvements.  We took a bunch of measurements, and now have an updated picture in our heads on which to base our plans.

~MB

Four Friends and a Baby Monday, Sep 15 2008 

Four Friends and a Baby

13 September 2008

Despite the weather forecast, and a sense of impending doom, we chose to hold with our plans to attend Grapefest.  This little wine festival plays host to the Texas People’s Choice Wine Awards and we go each September and have a great time.  Afraid the storm might put an early end to outdoor events, we bought our tickets for the 11 a.m. tasting, and aimed to get to the festival pretty much as it was opening. 

It was lightly raining even as we left the house, but we were armed with umbrellas and boots and rain jackets and hats, and off we went!  We parked close to the main gate, and were immediately struck with how terribly few people there were.  Then, we realized, there weren’t really many vendors, either!  We can totally make our own fun, no matter what, so we weren’t really too bothered by it . . . just sad.  After all, if we’d been at a tent show in the path of a tropical storm, we’d have packed up and gone home, too.  Hopefully, Thursday night and Friday were good for those folks, and the weekend wasn’t a total wash. 

The People’s Choice Tastings were happening, rain or shine, and we had a great time.  As planned, we met Starr and Joe and Troy and Alex, and Rod, just in time to get to our tasting on time.  With the weather-shy folks staying home, and the resulting crowd so small, we had plenty of time to taste as many wines as we really could–no standing in lines.  We liked that part! 

My photo is of our little group (minus Troy who was off visiting with a girl!) as we walked down the street after the tasting.  A couple of other cute photos include one of Joe and Alex, and one of Rod and Kyle.

The wind and rain were a constant part of the day, but it never got bad enough to chase us away.  We did go inside for burgers at Wilhoite’s, but that was mostly because there were no street vendors selling much of anything!  Instead of shopping craft booths–again there really weren’t but two or three—we shopped the little stores on Main Street and just enjoyed each other’s company.  When the walking had gotten the best of most of us, we decided it was time for an early dinner at Esparza’s, a fun little Tex Mex place we try to go to most years.  It was still daylight when we finally said goodbye and walked to our vehicles.  That was unusual, but we were tired and happy—just like we ought to be at the end of a festival day!

I took this photo of the beautiful hurricane-generated clouds on the way home.

We heard from a few folks down Houston way, that had come through Hurricane Ike relatively unscathed.  We will continue to check in with other folks tomorrow.  News coverage is still rather uninformative regarding Galveston—people aren’t really back there, yet.  We are hopeful, in that it seems the storm wasn’t as bad as we’d feared it would be.

~MB