Thursday, September 22

FINAL CHORES BEFORE THE ONSLAUGHT

My wife and I spent the entire morning moving lawn and patio furniture, outdoor potted plants, bird baths, houses, and feeders, garden hose reels, BBQ grills, statuary, and so forth -- anything that could become a missle in 100+ mph winds -- into our garage. We're fortunate to have a 3-car garage so we had some spare storage space. The heat and humidity (it's over 100 degrees today) are killers and, of course, we face the prospect of no electricity and consequently no air-conditioning for however many days the power may be out once Rita strikes. But evey time I felt weary while working I kept having visions of those hapless people in New Orleans after Katrina struck.

We've made a final decision this morning to stay put. Our sons up in Kentucky are not happy with us, as they've been encouraging us to get in the car and head their way. But the highways and interstates are an absolute mess and roadside services, particularly fuel, are scant. My risk assessment says we're better off here then being trapped out on a highway with no fuel and no protection. Besides, we're one less car adding to the gridlock. People south of us are in far greater need of getting themselves as far north as possible than we.

Our home is just about 100 miles from the Texas coastline, north-northwest of Houston. That's the good news from the perspective of storm surge and flooding; however, Rita is such a strong hurricane that, ideally, we should be at least 150 miles inland to avoid hurricane-level winds. So we're not even on the cusp in that regard.

Right now my wife is clearing out a first floor, windowless, walk-in closet that is under a stairwell. That's where she and I and our two dogs will go (and I'm very claustrophobic) once the winds start roaring. The worst of it, we're being told, could last 12+ hours! This is a first for me. I survived tornadoes as a little boy in Michigan and as a middle-aged man in Dallas; I spent a good part of my life in southern California and experienced my fair share of earthquakes. But a Category 5 or 4 hurricane? Nope; this is a first and I'm not looking forward to the experience.