If I Might Add My Two Cents

Beldar is holding down the fort in Houston and his traffic snafu analysis, along with snippets from other Houston bloggers, has been pretty fascinating. Something in his post caught my storm weary eye, however, and I wanted to mention my take on this:

Katrina + news media hysteria = lots of folks in non-flood-prone areas of Houston, who otherwise would have hunkered down altogether or at least waited until tomorrow to evac, instead hitting the road yesterday afternoon, last night, and today = avoidable degree of gridlock.
IMHO, local media have done a very bad job of distinguishing between “mandatory evacuation” areas (truly coastal counties, storm-surge areas) and elsewhere. Some of the adjacent coastal county officials are already bitching (publicly and unproductively) at Houston/Harris County officials for “ignoring the plan,” which was to get the coastal zones evac’d first. Since so many Houstonians are also on the road (“early,” in the view of those adjacent county folks), congestion is much worse for everyone. But I think the “fault” for that, if fault there be, can be laid more at the feet of the breathless media rather than Houston/Harris County officials. And ordinary folks are hyper-receptive to the hype because of Katrina.

While that’s true to a certain extent because of the ‘flooding’, I think a fair amount of those folks might well have seen the pictures of what 140mph+ sustained WINDS can do to a house and lack the confidence in their homes’ construction. Hysteria perhaps, but it would be a crap shoot to stay around and then have the walls come down around your ears. Too late to reconsider then. I’m not sure what the building codes are in the Houston area as far as wind mitigation, but I’ll bet they’re nowhere near what they are even in the Florida panhandle (and ours are considerably lax compared to South Florida). Or, if you’re not sure your engineer/contractor even built to code. One word. Andrew. That was no storm surge. That was howling winds, pure and simple, flattening those homes. If Casa Sister hadn’t been new construction (read: hurricane strapping, braced facades, rebar reinforced brickwork, 140 mph rated garage door, etc.), we would have had to seriously consider leaving Banglacola before Ivan. The houses here ten years and older took a sincere beating, with many of them completely destroyed. So it could well be that these folks aren’t even thinking ‘water’, they’re thinking

when the garage door blows in, which then blows my roof off, which collapses the exterior brick/clapboard/sheetrock walls inward…do I really need to be here?

If you’ve the means to leave? Probably not.
Via Instapundit.
UPDATE: Found this pertinent addition to my argument, courtesy of Bingley’s link in a previous post

Meanwhile, as the storm moved over western Harris County, its most dangerous winds, well in excess of 120 mph even inland, would lash the Interstate 45 corridor, including Clear Lake, the Texas Medical Center and downtown.
Many older buildings could not withstand such winds.

Like I said, it’s not just the water.

One Response to “If I Might Add My Two Cents”

  1. Cullen says:

    My folks in Louisiana live roughly parallel west of Jackson, MS. They are expected to get 20+ inches of rain and up to 70 MPH winds. They are no where near a coast.
    If people want to leave Houston, I have no problem with that whatsoever.

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