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« RITA Traffic Jam: It's Amazing How Little We Drove Today. | WILLisms.com | RITA: Abandoned Cars, Abandoned Roads, In Houston. »

RITA: Houston Hurricane Ghost Town.

Houston is quiet and empty. We just went on our standard 7-8 mile bike ride around Buffalo Bayou, near (just West of) downtown Houston. You may see Buffalo Bayou on the news in the coming days. It'll likely flood.

It had to be one of the more enjoyable riding experiences I've had in Houston. No cars on the roads. The weather was cool. There was a breeze. The clear clue sky with white wisps above us indicated something was coming. Go away, it said. We're warning you.

But it beckoned, as well.

Yet, it was the sort of weather that could make someone head for the beach. Or just sit outside and enjoy the weather. It was the nicest morning Houston has had in months. Months.

We saw bunnies hopping around everywhere, around the bayou. And dogs and puppies with their owners without leashes. Why worry about a leash? It's one of those days.

Even the bayou didn't have that smell... that... bayou smell. It was fresh and clean and beautiful.

For a hurricane bearing down on the Houston area, there were plenty of joggers and bike riders and dog walkers out and about. Almost as many as usual.

We passed several news trucks with satellite hook-ups and fairly large crews and large caches of equipment... generators, vehicles, everything. They are prepared. We didn't notice or recognize any local or national news logos. But they seemed like pros.

Mayor Bill White is on live television right now telling people not to evacuate if they have not yet done so. Mayor White was a major figure in the Texas Democratic Party apparatus, but, unlike Mayor Nagin, I am fully confident in his leadership right now. I am also confident in Houston Judge Robert Eckles, Harris County Commissioner, who is actually more responsible (by law and custom) than Mayor White for the evacuation/rescue plans.

While there have been problems with gridlock and people running out of gas (and the sad story of elderly folks in that burning bus near Dallas), I think most everyone in the actual evacuation zone who wanted to get out was able to get out. And I think Houston will be ready to weather-- and respond to-- this storm.

In a few minutes, we're headed for Kristel's parents' house in NW Houston. They're far from any flood zone. My parents also live in West Houston, so we may see about getting to them. They are all prepared. So we're going to hunker down. We're battening down the hatches. Hopefully we'll have some internet access and power to report on what's happening.

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 September 2005 09:22 AM


This moring I was on HW67, one of the first North heading higways off of 287 where they diverted traffic too after the bus fire, and it was amazingly loaded with cars. It seems a few people from Houston had Texas roadmaps and were using the shortcut.

It does look like you guys will get the south eye wall side, which is good news since the eastern side is always the most intense. We aren't supposed to see more that rain and thunderstorms here. Of course there is always the "tornado" to wonder about, but I've survived 3 of those so i'm not that worried.

Still, it's a very surreal experience to see this happen a second time this year in places where I have been.

Posted by: Rob B. at September 23, 2005 09:47 AM

The wind is starting up! The birds and the bees are still. It is definately the calm before the storm. I should submit this to Gail at her post! It almost sounds poetic... The anticipation of the storm is really weird! We have been cleaning as if we are thinking we don't want the looters to see how dusty our house and window sills have gotten! I hope we don't blow away! BUT if we do? I Love You and all our blogger friends! ... I hope those people who are stranded will just go up to a house and knock! During times like this the people from Houston seem to be willing to go out of their way to help others in harms way!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at September 23, 2005 11:40 AM

God Bless those people in Louisiana! How sad is that?

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at September 23, 2005 11:49 AM

A surfer in Galveston just got arrested!... What a world? What a world?...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at September 23, 2005 12:00 PM

It's hard to imagine two storms of such strength hitting so close to each other temporally and geographically. It sounds like Houston took the lessons from New Orleans and doubled up on the precautions. Good luck riding it out.

Re: the surfer. Some people just feel invincible - until disaster strikes, then it's somebody else's fault.

Posted by: Giacomo at September 23, 2005 01:44 PM

So you were in the massive Parking Lot on I-10 huh. Crazy.

Glad you two are at your dad's.

Posted by: Steven D. Rivas at September 23, 2005 02:07 PM

Hang in there Will, Zsa Zsa and all the rest of your family members, friends and neighbors who are riding this one out. We are praying for you all.

I anxiously await hearing the all clear and that everyone is okay. Godspeed.

Posted by: Mr. Right at September 23, 2005 02:41 PM

Good luck!! And hang on!!!

Posted by: Greg at September 23, 2005 07:54 PM

of course Houston escaped damage from the hurricane...How can you damage a sewer.

Safe in The Woodlands.. where people count.

Posted by: allan at September 24, 2005 11:42 AM

Uh oh, allan are you being a bit snarky?...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at September 24, 2005 01:00 PM