The Warlock here, with a word or two about hurricanes. We've had a few calls inquiring as to our well-being, what with Ike on the way (I would think it's a better question for us after Ike is gone), so I think I'll give you a status report, both on the storm and us.
You have probably been hearing that Ike is big and mean and nasty. You have maybe heard that Ike could cause billions in damage, spawn tornadoes, flood all sorts of places, kill people, and generally make life not very fun. You are probably reading things like "Category 4" and "125 mph winds" and such. And that Houston is going to get the worst, "dirty" quadrant.
You may have even heard that Ike's current course is the near-worst case scenario for Houston.
All of these things are true.
What is also true is that we will be staying put, right here in Houston, weathering the storm out.
Many of you know that I've weathered more than a few of these things (most while I was in Japan). What you may not know is that I have been heavily involved in emergency planning for our ward over the last few months. Turns out we picked a pretty prime spot to live in, as far as hurricane prep is concerned.
First, a map of evacuation zones for the Houston area:
We live just above the "n" in "Sheldon Reservoir" (look just above the top of the orange). What that means that, unless they change their criteria, we will NEVER be issued a mandatory evacuation order. Not even if a category 5 storm has us dead in the headlights.
In other words: you know that nasty storm surge? The wall of water that does most of the hurtin' and such? Not our problem (although certainly a major concern for Houston as a whole).
(For the record, people in the yellow and green areas are evacuating now).
So that leaves wind and rain to worry about. They are forecasting 2-6 inches of rain, with up to 10 locally (I expect we will get 10, based on tracks and historical precedent). However, we live right next to a brand-spankin' new drainage canal built just for storms like this, which runs into a reservoir nearby - both of which are very good things. Our roof is new and has been inspected, and we've had heavy rain before. Drainage on our lot is very good, especially with the new patio. I am not worried about the rain at all, if it wasn't for the fact that it will knock out our TV dish and prevent me from watching football this Saturday.
Oh, and did I mention that we live on what appears to be the highest land in Houston proper?
Now for the wind. I checked the quality of our windows: turns out they are supposed to be able to withstand 120mph winds (note that Ike will likely weaken before it slams us, as we're 80 miles inland from the projected landfall). Also, our house faces the best possible way: the biggest windows are on the side of the house that will get the least wind. We have repair materials handy in any event.
Hurricanes do, of course, spawn tornadoes now and then - but if we were going to panic at the thought of tornadoes, we wouldn't be living here in the first place. There is a greater risk of tornadoes during the rest of the year. We have a plan in place to deal with them.
Hopefully that puts your mind at ease a bit. Here's what is likely to happen, in my opinion: Houston will be hard hit in the southern part of the metro area. You will see stories of damage and destruction. We may have damage to our home, or we may not. We may lose power for a few days, or we may not. We may not have any capability to use cell phones (although texting usually works), or we may be as usual. But I think we will be fine. We could live without power for two weeks with little trouble (although it would be hot and sticky) and we are adequately insured. After talking it over, the Witch and I both decided weathering the storm here is our best option (which, by the way, is the advice of the local authorities for people in our area).
I will post status updates as I can on Saturday - perhaps from my Blackberry, if power is out. In the meantime, if you would like to track Ike, I recommend www.stormpulse.com.