Well, what do I know? My entire family has boarded up their homes and fled Brazoria County. Even my uncle in Houston has left, which makes me think that perhaps my family is using this as an opportunity to take an unscheduled vacation: "Hmm. Stay here and be steaming hot when the power goes out, or go up to Denton and drink with friends? Hmm, what to do..."
The only person sticking around is my grandfather, who was hospitalized last week. He was moved Wednesday from a hospital in Brazoria County to one in downtown Houston. This is actually the best of all possible outcomes for Papa, whom I am sure would have refused to leave his home for the hurricane. He is a hardcore hermit -- leaving home bedevils him.
Need an example? He hasn't been to the weddings of any of his grandchildren. That makes sense for me, because my wedding was held in the middle of Big Fucking Empty*, two hours from the nearest airport. But he also skipped my cousin's wedding when it was held just across the river from his house -- the wedding was held in the same tiny Texas town in which he lives and he didn't go. You gotta love Papa.
Here's another example: it took him 30 years to return a dish that was left at his house when my parents were married. Remember that all of my family -- both sides of the family -- live in the same county.
So, Papa's getting sick was probably a stroke of luck. It meant he had no say in his being taken out of harm's way.
Now the only concern is over property. Everything is properly insured and such is a time to be thankful that I come from a family that puts very little stock in mementos. If there is any need for me to do so, I may head down there next week to help clean up. I'm not sure, though, that my benevolent employer would be particularly pleased with this idea, considering that I was in Kentucky last week and will be in Britain in two weeks.
I anticipate that the response to Rita will be overwhelmingly better than it was for Katrina. I think a lot of Bush haters will assume that this is because Texas is Bush's home state and it has a larger electorate and is home to Big Oil, etc. I don't think this is true. I think the response will be better for two reasons:
1) Rita follows Katrina. There is a natural desire to respond in the extreme when you have been made a fool. This happens everywhere -- take a look at the rhetoric coming from the Minnesota Vikings in response to their ass-kicking from Cincinnati. Similarly, various government organizations are eager to prove that they are not run by drunken monkeys, and will likely respond to Rita in abundance. Expect to see every Texas resident, even those in Amarillo, walk away with some sort of hurricane-related door prize.
2) It's Texas, y'all. Texans think of their state as a separate country. And as far as Texans are concerned, their country is the greatest and most important one in the world -- any and all resources should be diverted to the preservation and restoration of Texas.
It looks as if Sarah will be staying in Houston, so you may be able to keep tabs on what's happening there as the storm hits. I think she should marathon blog as the storm makes landfall.
Did you see that dramatic plane landing Wednesday night? My wife still possesses a beautiful sense of innocence when it comes to world events, so watching the landing with her was quite exciting (innocence is different than naivety, remember). Having been raised by a TV journalist and having worked for many years as a TV journalist, I have a deep-rooted sense of evil and cynicism. But Rachel approaches the world with a bit more faith and hope. So, as the plane landed she was really pulling for the pilot and crew and passengers, really hoping for the best possible outcome, as opposed to my sense of watching it as a thing and thinking that the cameraman needed to pull out his shot a bit and hoping that the feed didn't cut out at a crucial moment.
*Well, less so now. St. George's population is growing at an alarming rate.