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How Is Mark Doing?

Frequent commenter Mike Puckett is wondering (via email) how Mark Whittington is doing in Houston, because he hasn't posted in over four days (at the time of this posting, the link is Mark's most recent post).

I'm a little concerned as well, but for now I assume that he's just lost power and can't post. Fortunately, the storm was not as bad as feared, and we haven't heard of massive casualties.


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Dennis Wingo wrote:

Spoke with Tom Pickens today from Spacehab. They lost a door on the back of the building and some leakage. Said that the USA buildings are fine but that the Nasau Bay Hilton got hit really hard.

Bill Maron wrote:

Houston Chronicle has a map that will tell you who is reporting the power is back on if you know the zip. South and east is in bad shape. North and west faired much better, relatively speaking. Willowbrook mall has power(NW Houston). Folks in that area have been able to get real meals and have cell use.

Steve Rogers wrote:

While Ike wasn't as bad as feared, it was bad enough. My family in Houston suffered only minor damage, but many were not so lucky. The golden BB can always get you.

The official casualty count is lower than expected, but there's a lot of wreckage to search along the coast. Some people will likely end up "missing".

Leland wrote:

Power and communication is pretty bad around here. My home came back online yesterday, 84 hours after the eye came directly over. I live fairly inland (50 miles north of Bolivar), so damage was relatively light. However, the eye hit at 5am, and the 6am update had sustained wind speeds up to 100mph. Most damage in our area was after the eye came over.

Power is the big thing here. Here are the Harris County outage maps. 90% of homes lost power. Galveston is far worse. To the east, everyone essentially lost power. Cellphones are about the only communication available, and everyone is using them, so the system is overburdened and hardly functions. Any place that sales anything has queue lines of 30 minutes to 2 hours to just get in. It may be awhile before the southeast side of town is back in order.

As you say Rand, the death toll is light. It is certainly higher than the current official reporting, but the issue is the coast line. The big problem is major metropolitan area being set back to the early 20th century. My hats off to the local energy provider and their crews. Over 500,000 homes have power restored and nearly 40% of the grid is functioning. Things are happening very quickly, and those guys deserve a lot of credit.

BTW, I know its already out there, but to expect to hear more FEMA stuff over the few months of the election cycle. I think Chertoff is a dlck, and this is one more reason he should be fired. He's finally coming back to Houston instead of running disaster relief from Washington DC. I live in the Northeast side of town, which had the eye go directly across, and the nearest Point of Distribution (POD) is over 10 miles away. That's a fair distance to drive to only get 2 MREs, 2 20oz of water, and 2 bags of ice. That's a lot of good stuff when you don't have much, but people don't have the means to get there. The state and county pre-positioned this stuff, but expected FEMA to distribute. Chertoff blamed it on the local county officials.

My quick political take. The local officials are handling this just fine. If they were aware they needed to distribute supplies, it would have been done. But once they did that, I'm not exactly sure what FEMA's role is. Perhaps a few people will get insurance aid along the coast a few weeks from now. Otherwise, FEMA, particularly Chertoff, is anything but managing an emergency. He is basically sitting on the sideline watching. Maybe Chertoff will learn a few things. Lead, follow, or get out of the way... Chertoff decide to do the latter.

Rand Simberg wrote:

Leland, prior to Katrina, FEMA's role was never seen as anything except to provide federal resources to help in the aftermath with disaster recovery and making loans for rebuilding. But the media decided in Katrina that it was Bush's Fault that people were sitting in the Superdome and that FEMA was supposed to be a first responder, and has persuaded everyone that this is the way it was and should be.

But it makes no sense. Why would local supply distribution in the immediate aftermath be a federal responsibility? Not that I'm a big fan of Chertoff, but I don't really understand why he should personally be on site. Of course, I don't understand why the president should show up, either, except that some people apparently derive some kind of psychological comfort from it.

Which is a sad commentary on the state of the electorate, IMO, and don't understand the nature and role of the presidency. I know that when we were without power for weeks after Wilma, I sure didn't give a damn whether George Bush came down, as long as the power came back on.

Leland wrote:


I can agree with your statements. I didn't care if the President came either, and I don't know of any role he played. The problem with Chertoff is that the state worked out a plan that included FEMA providing certain capabilities. When the time came for providing those capabilities, Chertoff claimed that was the state responsibility, by which he meant the county officials.

Now this may be emotion more than logic, but the county officials are very visible right now, and seem to be truly on top of the situation. For Chertoff to throw them under the bus is assine. That's why I think he's a dick. He should be fired for not providing the staged assets he said were in place. Congressmen from both parties, as well as local politicians, have noted the various things Chertoff said FEMA would do, and noted that many of those things were not done.

ken anthony wrote:

FEMA's role was never seen as anything except to provide federal resources to help in the aftermath with disaster recovery and making loans for rebuilding.

Fred Thompson made that same point. The question is why the misreporting media doesn't get it's feet held to the fire when misreporting. Where are the checks and balances?

How does a huge federal agency get it's mission redefined by ignorant reporters?

I guess I'm beating my head against a wall here.

Anonymous wrote:

I'd like to just let one and all know that we came through Ike OKm though we still don't have power or Internet (I'm typing this from a public library.) Thanks for all the good wishes.

Rand Simberg wrote:

I'm assuming that anonymous above is Mark Whittington, since this wording is similar to the update at his blog.

Anyway, Mark (or whoever you are) glad to hear that you and yours are all right.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on September 16, 2008 5:57 PM.

More On The Space Civil War was the previous entry in this blog.

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