Friday, September 23, 2005

Rita Comes Calling...

... and the crowds go crazy. The third most powerful hurricane on record blasted its way into the Gulf of Mexico this week, and aims to hit land right on the LA-TX border sometime later tonight. With it comes no small amount of wind and rain, and the already battered New Orleans might find itself dunked under water yet again.

Yet I still don’t know what’s happening in Mississippi and thank you, news media, for setting the country’s priorities on the straight and narrow once more. New Orleans was hit hard, true, but go back for a second and watch the instant replay. At the last second, it veered east and blasted the holy hell out of Biloxi and other towns. New Orleans at least is still standing. Water-logged, but standing. Can anyone say the same out of some of those Mississippi towns?

So why are we still focusing on The Big Easy? Harry Connick, Jr. and others can go down there, say how shocked they are (I’m merely using Connick as an example, as I did see him when he arrived in New Orleans and he’s not a good enough actor to fake the disbelief and anguish he felt), and report on the devastation and complain about the federal response to what is first and foremost a STATE issue (and Governor Blonco should take a hearty helping of blame for failing to declare an emergency days ahead of time despite everyone warning her, because the government could not move in until she did so), yet we ignore a larger amount of destruction that’s only a few miles away. Go figure.

Regardless, we in Texas and Louisiana are in the path of Katrina’s younger-but-equally-pissed sister, Rita. The fun part is where Rita is heading – right across the motherload of Gulf Coast oil platforms and refineries. The latest projections have the storm missing the largest of the refineries, but still putting the hurt on both states even further. Here is the projected path the latest projections have compiled. Dallas is already swollen to the point of bursting with the LA refugees, yet here come another several thousand from Houston and the gulf coast.

The funny part is now we might get a little rain, and maybe some wind, and that’s about it. Yet tell that to the checkout lady I spoke with at Tom Thumb last night. When I went in to do some weekly shopping (nothing disaster-related, we were just plain out of a few things), the entire place looked like it had been raided. When I was checking out, I asked the checkout lady what it was like earlier in the day. The look on her face suggested I’d inadvertently provoked a ‘Nam flashback. All of a sudden she was face down in a rice patty being shot at by VC while her squad called for immediate extraction, yet all she could do was hold the line and hope to live through it.

Maybe I’ve just been watching too many war movies lately.

At any rate, it looks like the disaster of Rita may miss us physically, but is sure has caused a disaster of another sort on I-45. Houston is legendary for its roads and freeways being under 24/7/365 construction, so it’s pretty bad all by itself. But no city infrastructure has ever been built with the idea of 2 million people either coming in or leaving all at the same time. As such, the Houston and Texas roadways have come to a complete stand-still, and it’s just unbelievable to watch. You always hear or read about miles and miles of stalled out traffic jams in end of the world stories, but somewhere in the back of your mind it still registers as fiction. You still believe that in the real world, people would be able to get away from the destruction and make it to safety to turn around and fight the ultimate evil that always shows up later.

From everything I’ve seen the last two days out of Houston, Randall Flagg can rest easy knowing that were Captain Tripps to start making the rounds, people would pretty much be screwed. But as the hero of this story, I would still find a way to kick his ass and keep my girl around at the same time, so rest easy knowing I’m on the job.

Whiteboyskim – defender of the universe. Respekt.

No comments:

Post a Comment