Hurricane Ike Update

October 3, 2008 at 12:00 am | Posted in Family, Hurricane | 3 Comments

This is actually something I intended to publish a while back, but didn’t get around to before going out of town. This post is partially about Hurricane Ike, but has more to do with one of my major irritations with modern American society.

The devastation of Hurricane Ike, although undeniable, has pretty much fallen off the radar of the national news media. Even before my most recent “break” from blogging, it had fallen so far down most internet news web pages that you had to scroll to reach the news stories. This happened when millions of people were still without power, the city of Houston was under a mandatory curfew and residents of Galveston were banned from re-entering the city due to lack of power, water, and sewage services. As a reminder, here are two images of the destruction that resulted from Ike which were published in the Houston Chronicle.

This image by Eric Kayne is of I-45 South, close to the causeway leading into Galveston. Over half of the interstate lanes were rendered impassable by debris following the hurricane.

This photo by Johnny Hanson shows what was left of Murdock’s Pier and the Galveston Seawall Hooters location. A big stinking pile of debris.

There are still individuals without power in the Houston area, although the numbers are very small. Residents of the affected areas are scattered throughout the state and many remain missing. Efforts are being made to locate the deceased, but it is quite likely that some families will never have definite confirmation of the fate of their loved ones.

I know that it’s been a while and there are “fresher” news stories. I also understand that the loss of local landmarks like Brennan’s and the Balinese Ballroom probably don’t matter to non-locals (although I’m sure more than one of my non-local readers shed a few tears when they heard about the destruction of Hooters).

What really bothered me was how quickly the American public as a whole seemed to get “bored” with Hurricane Ike. I think part of this is our societal ADHD. This is the major irritation I referred to in my opening paragraph. Another one, which I think also played a role, is this society’s morbid fascination with “bad” news. I think the reaction of society overall to this event mirrors on a macroscopic level what we often see in the reactions of individuals with respect to “bad” news or events. We are a society of individuals who are morbidly curious about the morbid and obscene.

Think about the reactions of individual drivers to accident scenes. We all have a little bit of the “Lookie Lou” in us and want to try to see what has happened. The accidents where emergency officials are on hand and it looks like the situation is “under control” don’t get anywhere near as much attention as accident scenes that have yet to be secured. The more gruesome the scene, the more attention it gets. The less control over the scene and more poor behavior by those involved, the more attention. If you think about recent years and major hurricanes hitting large American cities, you can probably draw some parallels. Without enough of the gruesome and obscene, Hurricane Ike and it’s aftermath quickly fell out of vogue.

At this point, media attention is almost non-existent. Although, I did see an article today by a dingbat at the Huffington Post who co-opted the Ike story as a vehicle to press for greater adoption of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Standards. I might not have had such a negative reaction if the title of the article wasn’t “Ike: Galveston’s Big Break?”. Sure Isabel, Ike was really great for Galveston and everybody is just so happy with the results.

I think I’d rather have no attention from the national media than this kind of attention. Maybe I’m just too sensitive about this. Like Miss Em who commented on the last post, I have a lot of really special memories of Galveston and Isabel from the HuffPo ticked me off when she tried to co-opt this tragedy to push her own agenda.

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I almost forgot to update on my Mom’s situation. As it turns out, her power was only out for 19 hours. She feels kind of bad that her house had power for over a week while she was out of the country and so many others had no electricity. Her roof is fine but she lost a few flowering trees (smallish) and had debris all over the yard. My family was lucky and I am grateful.



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  1. We needed a few thousand Houstonians assembled at MinuteMaid stadium chanting anti-Bush slogans. That’d kept the story on the front page.

    Local and state governments and people doing their jobs just don’t make headlines.


  2. I am catching up with all your interesting blogging.
    I was in Pasadena about 4 days after Ike left and it was functioning well. Many tree parts being cleaned up, street lights still out, Lots of cheap signes and roofs blown away and deposited a block or so away, but people were patient and civil amid the strife. The best was brought out in most people, as is so often the case in times of disaster.

  3. You’re right MC- that definitely would have made the news!

    Gypsy at Heart- Thank you, although I don’t think there was very much interesting blogging for you to catch up on :)

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