By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Q. But no decision has been made yet? Hurricane season starts June 1.
A. Our process is ongoing.
Q. Okay. I just wanted to see if something had changed and a decision had been made.
A. Yeah...Well, you can check back with me if you like.
Q. Check back when there's a Category 5 storm barreling down on Brownsville?
A. [Laughs] Let's hope it kicks right around and fizzles in the water.
Q. Okay. Thanks.
Your federal government -- it's not going to allow some wimpy scaredy-cats frightened of a hurricane to keep them from their appointed rounds. Some Mexicans might get in, and then the terrorists will have won.
Road Songs, Part I
Here in Houston, recent thoughts of hurricanes don't dwell so much on storm surges and wind damage as they do on traffic.
We certainly don't want to induce any flashbacks by retelling anecdotes, but it makes sense this season to be prepared for a repeat. And the best way to get ready is to burn a CD for the car.
Not a CD of hurricane-related songs. (If you want the definitive version of that, see Wack's "Hurricane Mixtape," September 29, 2005). The only way music can get you through another Rita-traffic episode is for you to make a mixtape so inutterably horrible that it -- combined with 100-degree heat, exhaust fumes and no relief in sight -- renders you into a zombie state from which you will emerge hours later, never remembering what happened.
To put this together we turned to the estimable David Sadof, whose High Fidelity with David Sadof show airs Sundays from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on KNCN/97.5 FM on your dial.
His list of how to get through the trauma:
1. The Ramones, "I Wanna Be Sedated" -- "Twenty twenty twenty-four hours to go / I wanna be sedated." Speaks for itself. The rest of this mix is really awful, so we might as well start it off with a good song.
2. David Hasselhoff, "City of New Orleans" -- As you're sitting on the highway, you will undoubtedly have thoughts of New Orleans. How better to have that city in your thoughts than this version. And you thought he was a bad actor? Katrina did less damage to the Big Easy than this.
3. Billy Squier, "The Stroke" -- Heat stroke, that is.
4. Burt Reynolds, "Frosty the Snowman" -- Now that your car has overheated and your clothes are soaked with sweat, here's a song to cool you off for sure. Burt Reynolds singing the holiday classic "Frosty the Snowman." Why, we don't know.
5. Y&T, "Hurricane" -- You were probably expecting "Rock You Like a Hurricane" by the Scorpions. Thought I'd be clever and surprise you with this "lost treasure." Hey, just be glad I didn't put the hurricane songs by Lisa Loeb and Neil Diamond on here. Talk about being sedated. Dream Island
Anyone who's driven along the west end of Galveston Island recently knows one thing: There are a whole lot of optimists out there.
A few yards from the beach, at an elevation of about six inches above sea level, an entire community of elaborate homes is growing exponentially. How do the folks in these sure-to-be-obliterated houses prepare for hurricane season?
"We get religious," says Jerry Mohn, president of the West Galveston Island Property Owners Association. "We start praying June 1 and don't stop until November."
Which is one way of handling things, we guess.
Homes worth $500,000 to $1 million are now fixtures on land that will disappear, at least temporarily, under the Gulf with almost any kind of near-direct hit. Amazingly, a lot of those homes carry only the minimum $250,000 flood coverage needed to get a mortgage.
"A lot of people think windstorm coverage covers damage from the storm surge, but it doesn't," Mohn says. "And values have skyrocketed around here recently, with some homes increasing by 100 percent, so a lot of people don't have enough coverage."
Galveston is perhaps the sittingest duck in Texas, and with only one evacuation route -- which includes a road out of the west end that floods easily and early -- troubles loom.
"The problem we get is that a lot of these homes are second homes for people in Dallas or Houston, and when they hear there's a storm coming they'll actually come in to the island, to close the house up and make sure everything's secure," Mohn says. "So you get people coming in here who may end up getting stuck here."
So why live there in the first place?
"When we evacuated from Rita last year," Mohn says, "my wife and I sat on our deck the night before, had a sip of wine and thought about all the great times we had here, and never thought we'd see our house again. But we were prepared to come back and build again. There's just something about this island, it's like a magnet...[Moving here] was the best decision we ever made, even when we go through this hurricane stuff each summer."
Things are only going to get worse on the west end -- acres of land are staked out for construction of a high-rise condo resort.