We don’t like Ike

Hurricane Ike has made landfall in Texas. It’s a big, big storm with what was expected to have at least 20-foot storm surges, which means water in second-floor bedrooms on the coast. Let’s just hope the response won’t be as inept as the response to Katrina was three years ago.

An air conditioning unit blew off the roof of a skyscraper in Houston. Some guys are out now looking for it. Imagine that conversation on the street: “Excuse me. Have you seen a stray AC unit? Weighs about a ton, about the size of a car?”

“Uh, no, but if you see my dog, would you let me know?”

Meanwhile, amid all the water, fires broke out overnight in Galveston and Houston, and the wind just whipped them into infernos. Brennan’s in Houston burned in spite of firefighters’ efforts. Incredibly, a lot of people stayed home to ride out the storm, despite the warnings that it meant almost “certain death.” I’m sorry, but anyone who has the ability to leave but doesn’t is just plain stupid.

I was in Myrtle Beach, S.C., when Hurricane Hugo ravaged the South Carolina coast in 1989. We were going to stay at The Sun News building overnight until the forecast put Myrtle Beach at Ground Zero, so we bolted for Columbia. Lucky for us, but not Charleston and McClellanville, it veered south. McClellanville, a tiny fishing town, was essentially erased. In the months afterward, if you drove down U.S. 17 to Charleston you’d see the Francis Marion National Forest where broad swaths of trees snapped in two, right around 20 feet above ground, as if a gigantic lawn mower plowed through the forest. Years afterward in Charleston, you could spot the waterline in the quaint shops that were flooded by the storm surge. They wore it like a badge of honor. Tough town: It’s survived two wars, a couple of major earthquakes and hurricanes and keeps on going.

Back in Houston, the Buffalo Bayou is overflowing, shooting out of a manhole. Windows blown out everywhere.


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