Asked if he had a message for the people of Texas, Pres Trump said "good luck to everybody," and gave a thumbs up. pic.twitter.com/J6LoXwaHKE
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) August 25, 2017
Thoughts and prayers, sincerely, to all those currently in the path of Hurricane Harvey. Stay safe, Balloon Juicers!
Texas Gov. Abbott and Houston-area local officials are squabbling over how people should prepare for Harvey: https://t.co/JZqRDPNQIT
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) August 25, 2017
Per NPR, “New, Respected FEMA Chief Faces First Major Challenge With Hurricane Harvey”:
Hurricane Harvey is the first test of the Trump administration’s response to a natural disaster. And much of that responsibility falls on the shoulder of the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, William “Brock” Long.
Long was confirmed as FEMA administrator by the Senate in June, just a few months ago, but he is not exactly a stranger to the agency. He was a regional manager there during the George W. Bush administration, and he went on to serve as Alabama’s emergency management director…
Long, who was not available to be interviewed for this story, told the National Governors Association in July that his biggest concern as FEMA director was a lack of a “culture of preparedness.” People, he said, are just not as prepared as they need to be for a major storm…
FEMA’s role in a big storm like Harvey is to help prepare residents and position supplies, like bottled water and blankets and food, should they be needed. But it’s largely up to states and local government to be first responders.
In fact, Long believes that individual citizens are the real first responders. “We have to think about the way we train our citizens and refocus these programs to give them lifesaving skills,” Long said. That includes CPR and “how to shut off the water valves to your homes — how can they do simple search and rescue in their communities after these disasters?”
Long says government needs to take a comprehensive look at what it is asking citizens to do and “empower them to be a part of that response.”…
Odd how the most anodyne public service announcements have turned so suspicious under the Trump Admin’s shadow.
Best hope for the Gulf Coasters, it would seem, is that the Repubs don’t want a repeat of the bad publicity for Dubya after Katrina. The NYTimes remains upbeat on the power of virtue signalling:
… Mr. Trump used the power of his preferred megaphone, his Twitter account, to signal to his more than 36 million followers on Friday that he was closely watching the storm, as members of his administration sought to project that they were on top of the looming crisis.
Mr. Trump’s homeland security adviser, Thomas P. Bossert, told reporters on Friday that the president has been in close touch with the governors of Texas and Louisiana, the two states most likely to be affected. Late Friday night, Mr. Trump signed a federal disaster declaration to support the local response in Texas, which the president said in a tweet “unleashes the full force of government help!”
“This could remain a dangerous storm for several days,” Mr. Bossert said as he outlined the federal government’s preparations, which have included close monitoring of the oil and gas production centered along costal Texas.
He later added: “Now is not the time to lose faith in your government institutions.”…
Cornyn & Cruz voted against Sandy aid, insisting it be offset. Will they make the same demand for Hurricane Harvey? https://t.co/xJrLrajGeh
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) August 25, 2017
And, of course, the inevitable Prophetic Trump Tweet…
Hurricane is good luck for Obama again- he will buy the election by handing out billions of dollars.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2012
Yeah, otherwise Obama wouldn’t have won New York and New Jersey. Idiot.
Those Prophetic Trump Tweets show up in the same scarily predictable way the 27% figure does. It’s almost uncanny.
I totally get what you mean about Long’s message, it does have that “you’re on your own” vibe. But read “The Unthinkable” by Amanda Ripley– people who prepare and practice for emergencies do better at surviving, and they really don’t panic– the public CAN be trusted to participate in their own rescues.
My immediate fam left Houston at noon today. So I know they’re safe, but who knows what’ll happen to their home (it’ll probably be OK, they’re in the Heights, and as the name implies, even big big rains are not a huge risk for them. Still, anxiety provoking).
I have zero confidence in the Trump + Abbot show, however, for people with less commanding real estate options.
It’s tricky, because you want the message to be everyone should know basic first aid (and the disaster prep equivalent thereof) and not you’re on your own, son.
I was in New Orleans in June and went to the Katrina museum. “Trusted to participate in their own rescues” might work for a small set of preppers and well to do folks. But as we saw then, and countless other times across this country and worldwide, your notion seems dangerously silly.
@Lahke: I read that book because I searched for the name of Ellen Ripleys fictional daughter and it was Amanda. Serendipitous good fortune. Book was good.
@Raoul: What, you want to wait for Trump and Abbot? You don’t need to be a prepper nut to do sensible things. I highly recommend her book, and waiting for rescue is not an effective technique most times.
@Raoul: I used to live on Stella Link south of inner loop…but it was supposedly not a floodplain. Glad Im not there to test it.
Adam L Silverman
Major Major Major Major
So wandering around not being slightly on edge all the time is a nice feeling. Thanks, Vancouver!
In a rational world, Lahke would be right — the government would provide training and emergency prep communications to citizens starting in grade school, and no citizens would be so poor that they would be unable to put by three days of emergency supplies.
Unfortunately, we live in the United States, not in a rational world.
@Lahke: The problem with the two of you is that you are speaking two different languages. You are speaking the ‘language of personal responsibility’, aka bootstraps. Everyone should be able to handle everything themselves. Everyone should, given more or less equal opportunities, be able to succeed equally, and so forth.
He is speaking the language of reality, where people are working two or three jobs, are barely literate or illiterate, are innumerate, can’t afford CPR training and can’t take off work in the middle of the day (!!) which at least around here is when the free training takes place, god knows why. People who don’t get disaster training assistance, and even if they did, they would have other ways to use that time more profitably: trying to figure out how to replace their alternators themselves, to save $100 that they can then spend on food, for example.
Sure, in a perfect world everyone knows exactly what to do in every situation. But in a perfect world there are no bad situations, and there are certainly no people who are as screwed as most of the people below the poverty line in at least two states in the near future.
Major Major Major Major
Well, no, they can’t. They can’t even be trusted to buy health insurance.
Prayers for everyone in the path of the storm. It looks terrifying.
@Lahke: I think Long has a good point. I’d like to see our VFD do outreach like this and get the local community more prepared than just running to the grocery store for the Trinity* when snow is in the forecast.
* Bread, milk, and toilet paper
@Raoul: In New Orleans, many people knew to keep an axe in the attic. Broadcasting that, going door to door like political canvassing, hell, even giving out axes (OK, weapons, I get it) would have saved lives that first responders and FEMA wouldn’t be able to help with the best organization.
Yep. I think lakhe’s point was misinterpreted. Being able to do basic stuff in an emergency — like knowing how to turn off the gas to your house — is not the same as being told that you need to rescue yourself in a disaster.
Again, in an ideal world, most people would do basic prep and be able to help themselves in the initial stages of the disaster so the first responders could concentrate on the people who really need extra help (the elderly, the disabled, children, etc).
And all of this is reminding me that I need to order water containers from Amazon since our earthquake kits need some updating.
@Mnemosyne: I also understand that not everyone can stock 3 days of food and water. But we’ve done that governmentally before. All those fallout shelters in the 60s! Schools, gov’t centers, all had the shelter sign and all (I hope) had supplies stockpiled. Why can’t we do that in earthquake and hurricane prone areas*? Seems like that would be a good idea. Maybe FEMA could work with te states on that.
* Oops, I forgot the Holy Grail of tax cuts for our betters. Never mind.
@Lahke: That book was on my list, just moved up a few notches. Plus have to save my dog and cat, if the time comes.
Like many here I’ve been through a rather large natural disaster. The 94 LA earthquake. Interstate 5, that major freeway that collapsed? About a mile from my house, and it was my route to work. Most of my neighbors didn’t know how to turn off their water and gas and at my house they were both leaking, gas slightly and water – a broken main into the house. At both my house and business, everything achieved ground level. Every machine in my shop, several which were running at the time moved and ripped the electrical wiring from the wall. One machine was on it’s side and through a wall. My friend and his wife lost their home to fire, every thing they owned but their cats and car and the clothes on their backs was gone.
You can prepare for emergencies all you want, you can know what to do, but one thing always happens, and that’s the unexpected. Whatever plans you make, they will not handle everything. We couldn’t stay in our home because of no water, no electricity, no gas, nothing to eat off of and not even much food because it was all over the kitchen floor and every thing breakable in the kitchen was mixed in with the food. We had to stay with the ex’s sister and BIL and that added over an hour each way driving to get to the house to clean up and fix stuff, not to mention the 2 hrs each way to get to my business that was 12 miles away. I’m very handy, I make and repair things and driving for 6+ hrs a day meant that nothing could realistically be done. My friend couldn’t put out the house fire, it’s amazing that the fire dept kept the damage as low as they did. If you think that you being prepared is going to work to save most people in these types of situations you are fucking insane. I’ve never been in a hurricane but I’ve been to sea for over a week with 100mph+ winds and you can’t do anything but hunker down and hope nothing goes wrong. Look up Katrina or Homestead and tell me that you’d be fucking OK. That’s why we have government, to help when it’s impossible for you to help yourself, to send cops or fire when you need them so you don’t have to shoot someone yourself and you don’t have to have your own fire engine.
@frosty: If I remember correctly those shelters had nowhere near the space or provisions for anything but a small fraction of the communities they were to serve. Most people will need to deal with the potential for lack of external support for several days, and they always did.
@Ruckus: Some people couldn’t even get into their houses.
@Ruckus: I think you are arguing past each other. It’s not about going it alone, it’s about surviving until help arrives or normal conditions are restored. Being prepared and knowing some basics increases your chance to survive and help others to do the same. The fact of life is that there are conditions that will mean help won’t arrive for days and being able to help yourself and/or work with others can save lives.
@Jay S: That is the way I read it. Need to replenish my bottled water supply.
@frosty: I’d heard it as the French toast shopping list, bread, milk, eggs, but the toilet paper is the better choice.
Yes, I want more community emergency planning, ideally so that most can self-rescue and the government can focus on people in nursing homes, etc, who need the most help. The real reality is that lots of people are right now in a no-help state like Texas, where the government didn’t even issue warnings until it was too late to be effective, and they are better off acting on behalf of themselves and their neighbors than waiting for more no-help.
@Lahke: Milk? Eggs? Bud, you don’t have any fucking electricity; your refrigerator doesn’t work. Your needs are much more basic, maybe some water and beef jerky. What Ruckus is saying is you need the government to be able to move in resources quickly from areas that are unaffected. Here in LA in a major earthquake, we may lose our water supply. We’re a desert. The other thing about earthquakes is that it tends to rearrange your stuff, so that emergency earthquake kit that was in the closet…you may not be able to get to the closet.
@Lahke: Several years ago we were snowed in for a week. A foot of snow overnight. We knew it was coming and stopped at the store on the way home from Seattle; the parking lot had a little snow on it but nothing too exciting and was pretty much empty at 8pm on a Saturday evening. I think people didn’t believe the snow would be that deep. We bought fresh fruit and vegetables, already had bread, milk, and eggs.
We didn’t think to buy toilet paper.
We weren’t out by the end of the week but the supply was getting low, so we slithered down the hill on the 6th day and the roads in town still hadn’t been plowed because Seattle was such a mess.
We now buy a large pack of toilet paper in mid-November or earlier, and stash it in the garage in case of a recurrence.
We had a very wet heavy snow in February this year that knocked out our power for about 18 hours. Our cell phones didn’t work either. We discovered that we couldn’t hook up our generator to the furnace so we dragged the sofa up to the fireplace, lit a fire, wrapped up in blankets in front of it, and read our e-books and dozed. The cat was cold too and slept on the hearth. She never does that.
@?BillinGlendaleCA: I’m agreeing with you, as a fellow Angeleno.
Water and gas.
Knowing how to turn off the gas is something they used to talk about on the evening news all the time. The gas company and other organizations handed out those wrenches just for that purpose.
With water, the scary part is not that the water doesn’t flow because of a break, it’s when there’s a break and the water still runs. I mean, the one is bad but the other is worse because of the danger of contamination.
Granola bars would be good in a pinch.
Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism
@?BillinGlendaleCA: I agree the French Toast list is useless, but it’s what people panic buy.
You may not be able to get to that closet, but then again you might. If you know where the water and gas cutoffs are, you are better equipped to judge if you can safely remain in place while awaiting rescue. If you know that there’s normally a gas pressure regulator on the corner, and it’s no longer there, you know that getting the hell out is a priority.
It doesn’t cost anything to look around and think about how to get out of the house/apartment building in case of a fire.
There was a big push for all of this when I was in elementary and middle school, special classes run by the local fire departments. Making a plan to get out of your room in case of fire was homework. And numerous stories in the years following of kids saving their families because they had thought about these things.
If you have a plan, even if the plan doesn’t survive the encounter with an actual emergency, you’re still less likely to panic and make a fatal mistake. Not panicking is huge. It’s what makes improvising a new plan possible.
Sounds like the perfect project for DHS to me.
West Houston, sitting here listening to rain. Pretty sure we won’t get water in the house, but there will be flooding – there are bayous around. So … won’t be going anywhere for a few days. Probably lose power – HOPING not for long, but we have a generator – big enough for a room AC and the fridge. Ok on food and water. Not my first rodeo.
The last hurricane I had to pay real attention to was Rita, soon after Katrina … living in The Heights, then, and we got 30 inches in just a few hours, and it could not flow away fast enough – the dumpster down the street at the convenience store FLOATED AWAY. Did get water in the house, that time.
Sigh … not looking forward to this.
@mskitty: Check in when / as you can, and I’ll keep you in my thoughts!
I was at the American Red Cross NHQ in 2005, the year that began with the tsunami relief efforts and was non-stop hurricane relief from June through the end of the year. The one image I will never forget is the picture of the three people stuck in their sweltering attic by floodwaters, peering out through a hole in the roof, desperate for some kind of help. A simple gallon jug of water would have gone SO FAR to alleviate their misery. You don’t have to be a prepper, but you do need to understand the practical limitations disasters place on the ability of the best-trained, best-equipped and best prepared responders to provide assistance. It isn’t political; it’s physics.
Cheryl from Maryland
Agree with commentators — you never know. We had a small emergency — a 30 ft. leader from a neighbor’s oak tree fell on our deck. Smashed the propane grill — no way could we remove the tree leader or get to the propane tank. Then called the fire department, who waited while the tree removal company removed the tree; they then took the tank out of the grill, moved it away from the house, and checked it. Shut off valve was ripped off by the tree. Once they declared the tank safe, we breathed a sigh of relief. Now we get to argue with the insurance company, get the deck repaired, and yell at the HOA who wouldn’t let the neighbor take down the tree this spring.
Another west Houston person here. Luckily my son’s house is on high ground, no worries about the house flooding. We will probably be stuck in place for a few days due to street flooding. So far just wind and rain, very mild, is all that is happening. We shall see what the storm decides to do next. We are well provisioned, so we can hold out for quite a while.
ETA: Hopefully we don’t lose power. I hate the sticky heat after a hurricane when there is no AC.
Sadly, I think the Bloomberg article is wrong. Cruz isn’t going to have a problem with inconsistency, because the media and the public for the most part have turned into goldfish, with a memory bank of about 15 seconds. Nobody’s going to remember what he said, let alone hold him accountable for it.
We’ve been through several hurricanes over the years. Toilet paper, bottled water, garbage bags, bleach,disposable dishes/utensils, and canned food. Cast iron cookware for using on the grill. Plastic handles on regular cookware doesn’t hold up well. The emergency preparedness info over the years was invaluable when Wilma knocked out power for over a week. We hadn’t realized until it hit that you may not have potable water for longer than you are out of electricity. Put bleach in water to make it drinkable. Use garbage bags to line the toilet if you lose all water to your house. You can at least bag up the stink and cut down on possible contamination of hands. Also hand sanitizer for after going potty. Check and see when the last time you got a tetanus shot. Just in case you get an open wound. Make sure all pets are up to date on vaccinations and everyone has at least 2 weeks of meds on hand. Put all important papers in waterproof containers (we would put them in plastic bags in a bin). This includes pictures you can’t replace. We went from putting up plywood to cover the windows to lighter weight steel shutters with permanent screw/wingnuts to mount. We’re still putting in the permanent mounts on the last 3 windows. We’ll get there.
No Drought No More
I’ve just read that 60 inches of rain will fall in Texas from this hurricane. My neck of northern California was deluged this past winter, and our yearly total won’t approach that much rain. Good thing for Texas there’s no such thing as climate change, at least according to the political representatives they freely elect. Because otherwise they might be in real trouble down the road.
You can read it any way you want. But no matter how prepared you are, a large natural disaster can not be survived alone. Sure you have to help yourself, you have to do that every day. As @?BillinGlendaleCA: said many people couldn’t get into their houses at all and had to sleep in parks or where ever they could find. We couldn’t get one car out of the garage without removing stuff and the back window of that car was broken by falling crap. Our house wasn’t badly damaged but was unlivable. One of my neighbors had to rebuild their house. And yet for all the damage and the amount of area that was very highly effected the death toll was actually small. But in a situation like this, in a large city, there is no way you can be self sufficient. And a major hurricane is far worse than a major earthquake. That’s why Katrina was so fucked up, because help didn’t come, from the one place it could and should have. Did people survive? Yes they did. Did many die because of it? Yes they did. This concept that you can be self sufficient or self reliant in a major disaster is bullshit. It’s not that a person involved can sit on their ass and do nothing, but so much is wiped out or becomes unavailable because it just is that planning goes out the window. There are a few of us who served in the navy on this blog and all of them can tell you that if a disaster happens on board ship, there really isn’t much you can do by yourself. People have to work together to save what they can, to save those that they can. That’s young people in their prime, trained to work under shitty circumstances and they can’t do it. I’m in my late 60s, and I can’t do stuff I did 10 yrs ago. I’d like to think I can, but that’s bullshit as well.
Many people just are not capable, that and the unexpected keep emergencies from being things that self sufficiency can address at all. It’s just not realistic, many people just can’t bend over to grab those bootstraps, let alone pull themselves up by them.
This will sound churlish, but I had family in New Jersey when Sandy hit. Let Texas pick up its own tab, I’m calling Peter King on Monday to remind him of what Cruz and Cronyn and the rest did.
Texas is always talking smack about being independent and seceding. Man up, cowboys!