OT: This is Why People Should Evacuate

September 28, 2008

From Two Weeks After Ike, More Than 400 Are Still Missing, in today’s Houston Chronicle:

Gail Ettenger made her last phone call at 10:10 p.m. She was trapped in her Bolivar Peninsula bungalow with her Great Dane, Reba. A drowning cat cried outside. Her Jeep bobbed in the seawater surging around her home.

Ettenger, 58, told her friend she was reading old love letters by flashlight. “I think I really screwed up this time,” she said, according to Monroe Burks, Ettenger’s neighbor who had evacuated to Houston.

That was Friday, Sept 12. On Wednesday — 12 days later — her nearly nude body was found face down by a huge debris pile in a remote mosquito-ridden marsh in Chambers County, about 10 miles inland from where her gray beach house once stood.

Isn’t that horrible? I can only imagine the fear that must have run through this lady’s mind during the last moments of her life.

I thought about riding out Ike but changed my mind when I saw that it was moving closer to my part of Texas. I got to thinking about it and figured out that it’s just stupid to sit through a dangerous storm if you can be somewhere else. I asked myself, “What do I have to gain by staying?” NOTHING! It’s not like I’m going to be able to hold my house together as the winds tear it apart! I chickened out and I was 100 miles from the storm’s landfall!

10 responses to OT: This is Why People Should Evacuate

  1. I saw an excellent photo of a structure in Galveston with the phrase “It’s just STUFF!” written on it. I think that pretty much sums it up for me! My home is wherever my husband and children are.

  2. Sorry about Gail’s story. I live on the East coast and if a hurricane is coming, I leave. I do need to refill some my emergency kit. Don’t have everything.

  3. I know it is hard to decide to leave because it is so easy to get the mindset that “it won’t happen to me”. Yes it is a horribly bad idea, and if you were that close then they really should go. But everytime some people are going to value their stuff and memories of where they are too much.

  4. Goodness, that’s a terrible and terrifying story. I’m sorry I wasn’t around when you were evacuating, but wanted to say that I’m glad you and your family are all safe and that your house is relatively unscathed!

  5. I wouldn’t call that “chickening out” I would call it “smartening up”. No one who stays expects to die and when they find out they’ve made a poor choice, like this woman, it’s too late. What a sad story. I’m glad you smartened up and got out!

  6. Sad. No idea why anyone would consider staying. You’re not stronger than mother nature.

  7. I worked with Gail for the past 8 years. Gail was not materialistic, she was practical. Enjoyed simple living, outdoors, theater, and reading. Highly intelligent. She was stocking up with food and ice the last time I spoke with her before the storm. She rode out Rita and various other storms from her home. Rita was a Cat 3 storm, Ike was just a Cat 2. Many people did not know how strong the storm surge was going to be until the final 12 hours before it hit.

  8. I live in Australia in a Cyclone prone area. I have an evacuation plan that involves my family, kids and pets in a car and driving as far as I can get. Becki is right, it’s just stuff. This is why we have insurance.

  9. I think Darwin should take his course with these people. We always show the poor person needing to be rescued in a situation like Ike, when people were defiant about leaving. Heck, I remember reading news articles about lots of people simply refusing to evacuate. For every idiot who refused to evacuate and could, there were several dozens more rescue personnel who had to risk their lives for the idiot decision of one. I have no sympathy for Gail…she was right, she did screw up this time. unfortunately, her screw up not only cost her life, but put dozens more in jeopardy. what a shame.