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Hanna’s long wet flow

July 27, 2020

The highest wind recorded yesterday in Corpus Christi was 54 mph. Not even hurricane force. But because Hanna came in south of the city, we experienced more storm surge than we had from recent hurricanes past. The walkway in the photo right normally has about four feet of seawall below it, there invisible under the waves. That surge did quite a bit of damage. The city marina’s fixed piers were flooded, as was some of its low land. Some sailors had to wait to check their boats, something I do not recall from storms past. Marina Del Sol fared worse, its breakwater not as high and its structures not so well made or maintained. One couple unwisely tried to ride out the storm there. The popular Bob Hall Pier was partly collapsed.

Harvey came in north of the city, with Port Aransas and Rockport bearing its brunt. We’re now seeing what the surge from even a small hurricane coming in south can do.

Eventually enough tree limbs broke in the neighborhood to take out our power in the wee hours of Sunday morning. After drinking coffee and before making pancakes, I rigged the Prius to power the house. (Note the disclaimer in that link: if you kill yourself or burn down your house trying to do this, your family should sue your high school physics teacher for failing to teach you how to think about current and how to safely make circuits.) Power was restored to part of the block late in the evening — they are working on the rest this morning.

I remain sensitive to how much we now depend on the cellular network during emergencies. I am in a few text chats with neighbors and friends regarding who needs what, and keeping those remote informed of the local state. If the storm had somehow destroyed some cell stations, those affected would be isolated and in more risk and nuisance because of that. Home internet provides some redundancy. It needs power for modem and router. Someone now will pop up to boast that POTS works independently of both power lines and radio signals. That indeed was one of the beautiful things about it. But signal lines, including internet, often share the same poles as power lines. And the 19th century is long gone. In the 21st, we rely on our personal, wireless communicator. Its hardware includes quite good radio capabilities. Because of its software, that works only in cohort with third-party infrastructure. Which seems careless to me. We should require cellphone providers to define a standard and to install software that supports peer-to-peer texting even in the absence of a cellular network, for the same reason that we require ferries to carry life-jackets. I hope there never is a large disaster that proves the need for it. Alas, the world is large and disasters come.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Douglas Rothkopf permalink
    July 27, 2020 8:58 am

    Glad you’re ok

  2. Michael Grossberg permalink
    July 27, 2020 4:37 pm

    I’m glad that you were able to remain safe, and coped with the exigencies with some resourcefulness. (Personally, I never go anywhere near electricity in terms of repairs.)

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