400 still missing from Ike

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HouTXmetro
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400 still missing from Ike

#1 Postby HouTXmetro » Sun Sep 28, 2008 2:50 pm

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/mor ... 27458.html

Gail Ettenger made her last phone call at 10:10 p.m. She was trapped in her Bolivar Peninsula bungalow with her Great Dane, Reba. A drowning cat cried outside. Her Jeep bobbed in the seawater surging around her home.

Ettenger, 58, told her friend she was reading old love letters by flashlight. "I think I really screwed up this time," she said, according to Monroe Burks, Ettenger's neighbor who had evacuated to Houston.

That was Friday, Sept 12. On Wednesday — 12 days later — her nearly nude body was found face down by a huge debris pile in a remote mosquito-ridden marsh in Chambers County, about 10 miles inland from where her gray beach house once stood.

Two weeks after Hurricane Ike swept through the Texas coast, 400 people remain missing, mostly from Galveston County, according to an analysis of calls logged to a hot line set up by the nonprofit Laura Recovery Center to assist local authorities.

Until Wednesday, Ettenger was one of them.

About 60 of the missing lived on the Bolivar Peninsula, stripped bare by the storm surge that felled beach houses like a bomb. More than 200 were listed as missing on Galveston Island itself, according to a city-by-city analysis of the data conducted for the Houston Chronicle by Bob Walcutt, executive director of the recovery center in Friendswood.


This is very sad.
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Re: 400 still missing from Ike

#2 Postby Shoshana » Sun Sep 28, 2008 3:38 pm

The surge that arrived well before Ike really took a lot of people by surprise. I was reading about the 1900 Hurricane and that happened then too - the surge arrived well before the storm. It's really sad.

Game wardens find body off Bolivar

PORT BOLIVAR — Game wardens found the body of a man in the water off Bolivar Peninsula on Saturday.


Woman’s body found on Pelican Island

GALVESTON — A woman’s body was found on the north side of Pelican Island in a marshy area on Saturday.
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#3 Postby CajunMama » Sun Sep 28, 2008 5:41 pm

Reading these 3 stories saddens me to no end. :(
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#4 Postby southerngale » Sun Sep 28, 2008 7:31 pm

I'm afraid they will either find more or some will never be found. :(

A local man is desperately searching for his brother. He has a wife and 3 kids. :(


Man Desperately Seeking Brother Who Made Final Call to Wife During Hurricane
September 23, 2008 - 7:59PM


A Nederland man is searching for his brother, who was trapped by rising water and made a frantic 9-1-1 call when Hurricane Ike had reached its peak intensity.

Greg Walker, 41, was returning home to Port Neches on Friday, September 12 after taking his wife and children to Louisiana to get away from the approaching hurricane.

Rising water trapped Greg in his truck about one mile north of Bridge City.

He called 9-1-1 at about 2:30 in the morning on Saturday, September 13.

An emergency operator gave him lifesaving information, including an explanation of how to use cushions from his truck to float.

The operator told Greg to call his wife. He called her but the line went dead during the conversation.

"He was my bubba," said Kevin Walker, Greg's brother. "He loved to hunt and fish. He loved his kids and all the family. You know, that was the last thing that he did. 9-1-1 got him to hang up and call his wife back, and that's when they lost contact."

Searchers found the truck last Tuesday - but no sign of Greg. The windows had been broken out, giving his family some hope Greg might have been able to escape and was later taken to a hospital or evacuation center.

Law enforcement officers confirm they're looking for Walker and focusing on the area where he was last seen near Bridge City.

Greg is married with three children.


Image

The Search for Greg Walker
September 27, 2008 - 6:22PM


Texas EquuSearch and about a dozen volunteers are continuing their search for a man who made a desperate call to 911 as Hurricane Ike was making landfall.

41 year old Greg Walker was returning home to Port Neches on Friday, September 12, after taking his wife and children to Louisiana to get away from the approaching hurricane.

Water trapped Walker in his truck about one mile north of Bridge City.

He called 911 at about 2:30 in the morning Saturday. He also called us wife but the line went dead during the call.

Searchers found Walker's truck last Tuesday, but no sign of Walker.

Volunteers gathered Saturday morning and began searching on foot and in airboats near the Rainbow Bridge.

EquuSearch needs volunteers to help with the search Sunday morning at nine.

If you would like to donate your time, food or water, there is a command station at the foot of the Rainbow Bridge on the Bridge City side.

Walker's family is also asking hunters, pipeline workers and anyone else with reason to be near the Bessie Heights Marsh to help with the search.


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Re: 400 still missing from Ike

#5 Postby Ed Mahmoud » Sun Sep 28, 2008 7:47 pm

Neither Mark Davidson nor Mike Anderson intended to take a 14-mile ride on Hurricane Ike's storm surge after crashing waves and 110-mph winds decimated their beach houses on Bolivar.

Nonetheless, the pair survived — one for 14 hours, another for 36 — as they were swept across East Bay and washed up into Chambers County along with tons of debris from Bolivar beach homes.

What at first seemed implausible — these survivors finding soft drinks, a child's life jacket and even a kayak in the midst of a raging hurricane — is instead a story of two men on two separate journeys with a desperate determination to survive.

Both were rescued among tons of debris, from refrigerators to furniture, compressed like a trash compactor along miles of the mostly uninhabited salt marsh of Chambers County.

Today, the 49-year-old Anderson says it was thoughts of his family that kept him alive. Though his feet are still scabbed and swollen from a flesh-eating bacteria, the other abrasions and ant bites that once covered his body are mostly healed.

Anderson, who spent 36 hours in the water clad only in shorts, was discharged Friday after 11 days in the hospital.

"Sometimes I wanted to give up, but I held on. Thinking of my family kept me alive," Anderson said.

His wife, Dawn, and their two children, ages 6 and 4 months, evacuated their home in Crystal Beach. Anderson stayed behind.

"I thought it would never hit us," he said. "There were people who had sat through Category 3 storms and this was only a 2. Nobody realized the water would be that bad."

But the day before Ike roared ashore, when the sun was still shining, water began to submerge Texas 87, the only exit road for those living on the Bolivar Peninsula.



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Re: 400 still missing from Ike

#6 Postby southerngale » Sun Sep 28, 2008 11:04 pm

Well, they found him. Another direct death from Ike. :(
(my post above)

He evacuated his family and then was trying to return to Port Neches. Why? We had a mandatory evacuation here for a reason. They warned us about the surge. Senseless death and now his children have lost their dad. It's just so sad.

EquuSearch Volunteers Find Body of Greg Walker
September 28, 2008 - 8:00PM


Volunteers with Texas EquuSearch have discovered the body of a man who called 911 to report he was trapped in rising water when Hurricane Ike was moving ashore in Southeast Texas, according to information provided to KFDM News by Greg Walker's family and a spokeswoman for EquuSearch.

Barbie Tarr says EquuSearch volunteers found the body of Greg Walker, 41, Sunday afternoon, not far from where he was reported missing near Bridge City on September 13.

She says the body was discovered in shallow water near a tree line, in a marsh near the Rainbow Bridge in Bridge City.

About a dozen EquuSearch volunteers, some using airboats, set up a command post Saturday at the foot of the bridge.

Walker was returning home to Port Neches on Friday, September 12, after taking his wife and children to Louisiana to get away from the approaching hurricane.

Water trapped Walker in his truck about one mile north of Bridge City.

He called 911 at about 2:30 in the morning Saturday. He also called us wife but the line went dead during the call.

Searchers found Walker's truck last Tuesday, but no sign of Walker.

Greg was married and has three children.

His brother, Kevin, spoke with KFDM News Sunday night.

"I knew today was going to be the day," said Kevin Walker. "After seeing all of the people turn out, I knew it was the day."

The entire Walker family wants to thank the EquuSearch volunteers and everyone else who played a direct or indirect role in the search, as well as the public that offered its support to the family.

"I don't know how to thank these people, the EquuSearch volunteers who were on the job for three and a half days and everyone else," said Kevin.

"It's just amazing. It's closure. We know. My mom and dad, the whole family, everybody knows now. Thanking the people is the biggest part. We want to thank everybody who helped directly or indirectly. There were cases of water stacked up, people brought food, some just showed up on four wheelers. Sheriff White came out and helped make sure it was Greg. The entire family wants to thank the public."

Barbie Tarr with EquuSearch tells KFDM News the organization is thankful to Sheriff White, who helped make the positive identification, in part, through a picture family members provided of Greg that showed distinguishing tattoos.

"Sheriff White came out, spoke to the family, and he even had a pastor come out," said Tarr.

"We want to thank the volunteers who brought water and food. One woman who lost her entire home to Ike said her loss was nothing compared to the Walker family's loss. She cooked a pork roast, beans and other food. It was just a wonderful community effort."

Funeral services are pending for Greg Walker.
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Re: 400 still missing from Ike

#7 Postby PTrackerLA » Tue Sep 30, 2008 5:24 pm

Such sad stories, and with this many still missing, where is the media coverage? I was in the Beaumont area after Ike for work and got to drive down to the coast south of Winnie one day. What I saw was horrible, there was hardly a house left and to say the coast was absolutely decimated is an understatement. I saw at least 30 cars and trucks in the short area I traveled and couldn't help to think that some of those people must have stayed. Here a few pictures that I snapped:

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Re: 400 still missing from Ike

#8 Postby HurricaneBill » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:37 am

Ike is now responsible for 34 direct deaths in the U.S.
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#9 Postby DanKellFla » Wed Oct 01, 2008 7:56 am

I was wondering about this subject. I was amazed and relieved that so few people disappeared in the surge. I guess I was wrong. Very sad. Now, with everything else going on, the national media just isn't covering this.
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Re: 400 still missing from Ike

#10 Postby Texas Snowman » Wed Oct 01, 2008 9:58 pm

Joe Bastardi was talking about this story on his blog today, questioning where the national press is on this story.

While I'm sure some of that number of missing will eventually be "found" I'm also inclined to think that given the reports of so many people staying and dozens of people calling 911 during the height of the storm, a good number of those missing could very well be deceased.

With the storm surge going for 10 miles inland (something I read yesterday) over the BP, I suspect that a number of those missing may never found. And with the alligators in the marsh and the sharks in the saltwater, that becomes even more possible I would think.
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#11 Postby weunice » Thu Oct 02, 2008 9:43 am

Its not a story because it is developing slowly over time and the economy and election have everybody else diverted. Patience is not a virtue in modern day media.

I bet most of you don't know the name of the first woman to fly over the English channel. Her feat happened the day after the Titanic sank and was buried in the back pages of papers.
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Re: 400 still missing from Ike

#12 Postby soney » Mon Oct 06, 2008 2:10 am

One of the very saddest stories I've read, they don't even know and aren't keeping track of who is missing:

Islanders who insisted on staying died in Ike By MONICA RHOR, Associated Press Writer
Sat Oct 4, 1:58 PM ET

GALVESTON, Texas - The final hours brought the awful realization to victims of Hurricane Ike that they had waited too long. This storm wasn't like the others, the ones that left nothing worse than a harrowing tale to tell.

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George Helmond, a hardy Galveston salt, watched the water rise and told a buddy: I was born on this island and I'll die on this island.

Gail Ettenger, a free spirit who adopted the Bolivar Peninsula as her home 15 years ago, told a friend in a last phone call: I really messed up this time.

Within hours, the old salt and the free spirit were gone as the powerful Category 2 hurricane wracked the Texas Gulf Coast on Sept. 13, flattening houses, obliterating entire towns and claiming at least 33 lives.

The dead — as young as 4, as old as 79 — included lifelong Galvestonians firmly rooted on the island and transplants drawn by the quiet of coastal living.

Seven people drowned in a storm surge that moved in earlier and with more ferocity than expected. Nine others died in the grimy, sweaty aftermath, when lack of power and medicine exacted its toll. Eleven people were poisoned by carbon monoxide or killed in fires from the generators they used in their own attempts to survive.

Hundreds of people remain missing three weeks after Ike's assault on Texas. Local and city officials are no longer keeping their own count of missing residents, and the estimate varies wildly from one agency to another.

According to the nonprofit Laura Recovery Center, about 300 people are missing. Of those, about 200 from Galveston. However, the number "goes up and down by the minute" as people call in to remove or add names, cautioned executive director Bob Walcutt.

Some vanished during the evacuation of towns in the storm's path. Many were last heard in desperate, last-ditch calls for help.

Immediately after the hurricane, Galveston officials conducted door-to-door searches for survivors and possible victims. But the city is no longer taking an active role in the search, city spokeswoman Alicia Cahill said.

Instead, search teams of sheriff's deputies, volunteer firefighters and special K-9 search and recovery units have been using airboats and all-terrain vehicles to sift through debris fields, tangled and fetid marshlands, and the rubble left behind by Ike.

Bodies could have been tossed anywhere in the marshes, where thickets of trees are littered with the contents of houses. Refrigerators, office chairs, and television sets are scattered everywhere __ in the mud, in bushes, on treetops.

"We are definitely looking and are going to do anything we can to find them, but there may not be any answers to be given," said Galveston County emergency management spokesman Colin Rizzo. "There are definitely going to be people from Hurricane Ike that are never found."

_____

Gail Ettenger stumbled upon her house in Gilchrist by accident. But once she saw the site on the bay side of Bolivar Peninsula, she knew she would never leave.

Ettenger, a native of New Jersey, instilled the house with her own energy and style. The 58-year-old's garden bloomed with vibrant birds-of-paradise.

And Reba, an 11-year-old Great Dane hobbled by arthritis, was her baby. Ettenger loved to treat the dog to dinners of chicken and roast beef, recalled JoAnne Burks, Ettenger's neighbor and close friend.

Ettenger, a chemist at ExxonMobil, didn't evacuate, reasoning that her house had weathered Hurricane Rita in 2005 without a problem. She also did not want to leave Reba, who could no longer climb into Ettenger's Jeep.

Burks and her husband pleaded with Ettenger to change her mind. But she insisted.

Hours before Ike made landfall, Ettenger knew she had made the wrong choice. She called Burks and described the water pushing up under her feet, the propane tanks and other household items drifting by her windows, and wondered which would float better: her Jeep or her house.

Her voice was shaky with fear, Burks said.

Burks spent the next 10 days searching for her friend, calling local, county and state officials without success. She tried the American Red Cross, FEMA, even private investigators.

"I didn't want her to wind up like the victims of Katrina, who were never found or identified," Burks said.

Ettenger's body was found Sept. 23, tossed on a debris field in a Chambers County marsh about 10 miles from her house.

Amid the muck and remnants of homes, Burks found a pink leather collar. The name Reba was spelled out in rhinestones.

_____

At 72, George Helmond had ridden out many storms and thought he could take on Ike, too, neighbor Don Hanson said. "A lot of old Galvestonians are like that."

Helmond had been one of the first residents of Sydnor Lane, which overlooks a bayou on one side and a golf course on the other. A retired electrician, Helmond was a die-hard fisherman, a dove hunter and straight-shooter intensely proud of his Galveston roots.

Around 10 a.m., Helmond called Hanson, who had already left, to say the water had already slipped over the road and toward his house. The street — the only way out of the neighborhood — was already impassable.

At 9:30 p.m., Helmond and Hanson talked for the last time. By then, the water had pummeled through Helmond's garage, crushing the doors and submerging his Cadillac. Hanson begged his friend to grab a life vest at his house or to seek shelter there.

But at 2:30 a.m., for reasons no one knows, Helmond got in his pickup truck and drove off at the height of Ike's fury.

Neighbors found Helmond's body the next day inside the truck, which had slammed into the white golf course fence. The windshield was shattered.

Helmond's home suffered little damage. The water had reached above the first-floor garage, but not inside the house.

"If he had stayed home and hadn't gone out, he'd be OK, but he panicked," said Hanson, 66. "Life goes on, but I will miss a good friend and I will think about him."

_____

Even as Ike bore down on Texas, Jim Devine refused to leave his cream-colored house within sight of the bay in San Leon. Devine had moved to the fishing town after retiring and loved the tranquil way of life there, neighbors said.

The 76-year-old Devine drowned when Ike sent water barreling through his house, picking him off the second-story porch and dropping him a block away. Days later, Devine's empty home still bore the scars of the storm — shattered windows, twisted wood, and his boat, the Seabar, jammed under the front steps.

His daughter left a warning and a memorial in orange spray paint: "Jim Devine. No Trespassing."

_____

Port Bolivar held special meaning for 79-year-old Marian Violet Arrambide. She met her husband there during World War II. Many years later, he built the beach house where they could retire.

Arrambide, a retired nurse suffering the onset of dementia, lived with her daughter, Magdalena Strickland, and nephew, Shane Williams, in that beach house before Ike struck.

All three have been missing since the morning of Sept. 12, just as Ike began to come ashore.

"My sister said 'I'm walking out the door in a hurry. Everything's taken care of, I'll see you in a few hours.' That was it," said son Raul Arrambide, describing a 6:15 a.m. phone call.

Since then, Arrambide has had little luck getting help or information. Instead, Arrambide said, he's been passed from one agency to another.

"They send you back and forth until you're worn out," said Arrambide, his voice showing the strain of the last weeks.

After five days with no word and no answers, Arrambide borrowed a boat to search the area himself, but sheriff's deputies turned people away. He finally found a local contractor who is helping search for missing residents. That man found his relatives' vehicles, which had been washed off the road into a tree grove.

"I want to keep the hope that they are still alive, but by not hearing from any of them, that hope is getting smaller and smaller," he said. "They helped people all their lives. They did not deserve to go this way."

from:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081004/ap_ ... ves_lost_1
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Re: 400 still missing from Ike

#13 Postby HurricaneBill » Mon Oct 06, 2008 2:52 am

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Re: 400 still missing from Ike

#14 Postby Shoshana » Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:33 am

County’s 15th Ike victim found

PORT BOLIVAR — Search crews found the body of another unidentified Hurricane Ike victim Monday night on the marshy island where four other bodies were found since the storm.

The body was found in the massive debris piles on Goat Island, across Galveston Bay from Port Bolivar.

Another body found earlier is still in the rubble. Crews had not yet been able to move it to the morgue because it’s trapped under heavy pieces of debris.
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Re: 400 still missing from Ike

#15 Postby Ixolib » Wed Oct 08, 2008 9:25 pm

"I thought it would never hit us," he said. "There were people who had sat through Category 3 storms and this was only a 2. Nobody realized the water would be that bad."


:uarrow: :uarrow: Yet another reason why the NHC and Local Authorities MUST revise the way they warn people on the true, actual, factual, and real circumstances of a landfalling storm. SURGE has GOT to take complete precedent over the wind, instead of remaining a secondary mention (in most cases...) Otherwise, folks will continue to die in these storms because they don't get enough extreme warning about the impact of surge with wind-driven waves on top of that.

Of course, I know some here will say everyone had plenty of warning and in fact were told "certain death would result" if they stayed. But I still say the warning system has GOT to include a much harsher and/or poignant alarm on the water (surge) impact as opposed to the wind impact.

Folks can, and overwhelmingly do, survive wind – even extreme wind...

They seldom survive extreme storm surge....
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Re: 400 still missing from Ike

#16 Postby Alladin » Wed Oct 08, 2008 9:44 pm

They had more than adequate warning, yet they chose to stay. End of story.
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Re: 400 still missing from Ike

#17 Postby Rod Hagen » Thu Oct 09, 2008 5:41 am

Alladin wrote:They had more than adequate warning, yet they chose to stay. End of story.



Mmm. When you look at the people who die in these sorts of situations a few things pop out at you.

Firstly, a lot of old people seem to die. Maybe they just can't face the idea of what it would be like without all of the memories that their houses contain. Maybe some of them can't drive any more and they don't want to "be a burden" on anyone else. Maybe they know if their house goes they will end up in a home, or being what they see as a "load" on their kids, or whatever.

Secondly a lot of middle aged men seem to die. They get the family out and then they head back to try and look after the place. They've been sold the message that they are providers or protectors or whatever and they shouldn't be "whimps". 'When things get tough, the tough get going" etc etc etc. Yes, its mad, but it gets sold to us every day in every B grade movie and every schmaltzy TV show, and has been since we were kids.

THen there are the people who just misread the signs. "Heck, we had a warning twice as bad a couple of years back and nothing came of it". Then the road is closed and its too late to change your mind, or the car won't start or Bill down the road needs a hand before you go and he's done good for you in the past.

Then there are the people with no money and nowhere that they think they can go. Ok, they , hopefully if humanity is what it cracks itself up to be, were wrong, but when you live that sort of life things don't always seem so simple.

And yes, of course, there are a handful of dingbats who didn't deserve to die, but got what was coming without much in the way of a reason.

No doubt all of the "I'm perfect, they're dumb enough to deserve to die" moralizers out there have never jay walked or made a risky turn, or smoked a cigarette, or done anything that was just plain dumb, or whatever.

I'm sure, though, that all of the actual human beings out there are able to say , "there but for fortune..." , stick that "first stone" back on the ground, and maybe shed a tear as well for those who didn't make it. Well, I hope so, at least.
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Re: 400 still missing from Ike

#18 Postby Dionne » Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:15 am

Ixolib wrote:
"I thought it would never hit us," he said. "There were people who had sat through Category 3 storms and this was only a 2. Nobody realized the water would be that bad."


:uarrow: :uarrow: Yet another reason why the NHC and Local Authorities MUST revise the way they warn people on the true, actual, factual, and real circumstances of a landfalling storm. SURGE has GOT to take complete precedent over the wind, instead of remaining a secondary mention (in most cases...) Otherwise, folks will continue to die in these storms because they don't get enough extreme warning about the impact of surge with wind-driven waves on top of that.

Of course, I know some here will say everyone had plenty of warning and in fact were told "certain death would result" if they stayed. But I still say the warning system has GOT to include a much harsher and/or poignant alarm on the water (surge) impact as opposed to the wind impact.

Folks can, and overwhelmingly do, survive wind – even extreme wind...

They seldom survive extreme storm surge....


I couldn't agree more. Well said! We survived extreme winds from Katrina. It can be done, even with 90' longleaf pines dropping. I suspect people forget that the storm surge will be full of debris.
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Re: 400 still missing from Ike

#19 Postby Shoshana » Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:41 pm

I think another thing that doomed people on Bolivar was that just like in the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, the surge came in hours before the hurricane. People have gotten used to making a decision to leave much later than they used to. In places like New Orleans and Galveston, they had a recent history of storms turning last minute and passing by. So quite a few people got up that day intending to decide that morning (or they'd decided to get up early and leave) not realizing the way out would be gone during the night. And so they had no choice but to stay. The surge was already there.

As far as the older people in Galveston that died from medical complications (no electric to run oxygen or to keep insulin cold, no meds etc) that's really sad.
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Re: 400 still missing from Ike

#20 Postby jinftl » Thu Oct 09, 2008 10:01 pm

Most people are in agreement that the key to surviving a hurricane is getting out of a surge zone. Issuing mandatory evacuations and even dire-sounding weather bulletins are not enough to get as many people as possible out of harm's way. First and foremost, there needs to be assistance provided in the days...not the hours...prior to landfall to get anyone out of harm's way who, for one reason or another, can not get out on their own. People getting left behind who want to head to safety is unacceptable in 2008.

After that, maybe a more 'action-oriented' approach is needed to get those who are choosing to remain in a surge zone. This is not a simple or non-controversial approach...but maybe if local authorities use 'action' to supplement the 'words' of their warnings, that will get more folks out of harm's way from drowning.

How might this be done? Have municipalities in a surge zone shut power, water, phone lines down 24 or 48 hours prior to landfall as both a precautionary measure....and an extra 'inducement' to convince people that staying behind is not a 'hope for the best' possibility.....the impacts are already happening and that might put a dampening effect on 'hurricane parties', complacency, etc.

Not sure how legal shutting utilities down is...but it may very well be possible in times of emergency. A storm with a surge that would flood an area given surge maps, elevation profiles, etc, may be sufficient to warrant such action by authorities.

The key is that these steps would need to be taken at least 24 hours in advance of weather conditions deteriorating...and tides rising...so everyone can get out...however begrudgingly...safely and in time.
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