September 12, 2008

Hell is Coming to Texas Tonight

The worst natural disaster to ever hit the US was a hurricane on a track very similar to this. This is worse. As I type this,  it looks like the eye will pass near or over both Galveston and Houston. The thing is HUGE and could hit some areas with hurricane force winds for 12 hours or more. This has the potential to be an unimaginable calamity. Worse, the area has been hit by numerous hurricanes that are on paper more dangerous. However, the size of this storm will result in a storm surge of historic levels and the area will be subject to winds far longer than it has in history. Many people, perhaps thousands, who have weathered previous bad storms with no problem are likely in for a terrible, terrible surprise if they have not evacuated. This storm is a monster and it may be the most damaging hurricane of all time.
It should be noted that the Houston ship channel is one of the most vital pieces of national infrastructure.

Send your thoughts and prayers to
Mark Whittington
Rachel Lucas
Ubu Roi
and everyone else in the line of fire. Ubu in particular is in a bad situation and can't actually evacuate due to family responsibilities..

UPDATE: The 584 foot bulk freighter Antalina  has suffered an engineering casualty and was unable to avoid the storm. The ship is adrift is adrift in 80 knot winds with 22 crew aboard. Coast Guard  and Air Force rescue aircraft were unable to remove the crew and the aircraft were forced down in Lake Charles. Antalina is reportedly  a Cyprus Registered coke carrier.

From the USCG Press release.
"Unfortunately there were 80-knot winds on scene, well beyond the operating conditions for the air crews to safely rescue the crew of the Antalina. The safety of the rescue crews and the crew of the Antalina are of the utmost importance to us. The Coast Guard will continue to maintain contact with the crew of the Antalina and monitor their situation very closely," said Rear Adm. Joel R. Whitehead, commander, Eighth Coast Guard District. 

I've been able to find no info on the Antalina aside from that given in the Maritime link. She is said to be a coke carrier. Bulk freighters carrying such low value cargo are often not in the peak of maintenance.  The vessel has traditional lifeboats, which are perilous in good weather let alone in the teeth of a hurricane. This is a serious situation.

UPDATE 2: thanks to a commenter at Galrahn's. Here are the stats on the vessel. They do not fill me with confidence.
UPDATE 3:It looks like they made it.

Via The Unofficial Coast Guard Blog, the acknowledged Military response is...

USS Nassau w/1000 medical bed facility. The NASSAU arrived in Norfolk, Virginia at 1000 EDT September 12 and on-loaded a Disaster Relief Team (DRT), Beach Party Team (BPT), Fleet Surgical Team (FST) and 4 x Utility Landing Craft (LCU)

(20) title 10 aircraft and helicopters to include HH-60s, SH-60s, HC-130s;

(14) USCG platforms to include HH-65s and HU-25s;

(9) Air National Guard platforms to include HH-60s, MC-130s;

(61) Army National Guard helicopters.

This is in addition to the National Guard , Army, Civilian Federal, Volunteers Churches and NGOs.

UPDATE: *Coast Guard video of rescues is here and here.

This is driving me nuts....I'm still on medical leave and thus nondeployable. At this time they don't even need any back fill here ( at least not from a broke coastie). 2 times I had to drop out of school for mobilization but see no action and save no one except a St. Bernard...Now actual emergency...what I enlisted to do...something that applies to my rate in spades is happening and I'm Walter Mitty with a keyboard.

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September 11, 2008


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