Where Are the 140,000 People who faced “Certain Death”?

This just in–water is available in Liverpool, 30 miles from Galveston!

I wrote a post Friday night entitled “Epitaph for Those who Chose NOT to Get Out of Ike’s Way”. I thought Saturday that perhaps this was too harsh and the end result might not be as bad as feared. With each passing hour, I fear that my initial impressions were closer to the truth than everyone thought yesterday.

I just read that search and rescue crews have found a total of 2,000 people so far. This is great news except there were supposedly 140,000 who ignored the evacuation order. There is a growing knot in my gut that is telling me that the number of people who may have perished in hurricane Ike may be higher than anyone wants to think. The logical question in all this is very simply; where are these people?

We can safely assume that many of these people are stranded in places impossible to reach due to storm damage. We can safely assume many of these people made it to higher ground just before the storm hit. We can safely assume many people are getting to safety on their own as the waters go down. We can safely assume there were errors in the reported number of people who stayed behind in the first place. This will certainly account for a certain number of the missing. But…

I realize that crews have not been able to get to many areas due to flooding and debris on the road. Many areas are still under many feet of water. The disturbing question comes down to what became of the thousands of people calling 9-1-1 at the beginning of the storm? Of course all phone service went out soon after the storm hit and there was no way to contact anyone afterward.

Most everyone I know, especially those who worked the phones in the grief counseling center set up after Katrina, confirms the actual number of fatalities from Katrina far exceeded the “official” count. No one can offer any good explanation as to why the government refuses to divulge REAL numbers. Do they not know them? Are they afraid of public opinion? Is it bad politics?

I just heard there is a news blackout and helicopters are not allowed to shoot footage of many sites. Once again it appears FEMA is covering up the truth regarding just how bad this storm really was. Why do the authorities not want America to know the truth regarding how many people lose their lives in these powerful hurricanes? Where are the investigative reporters demanding answers?

Here are the facts as far as they have been reported:

*There were assumed (who counted them?) to be 140,000 people in mandatory evacuation areas who defied the order and stayed in their home (or did they?).

*Early in the storm, there were “thousands” of calls to 9-1-1 operators from these people asking for assistance, which of course was not available.

*As of Sunday afternoon, 2,000 of these people have been rescued and I believe the “official” fatality count is around 9 in the whole country.

*Video footage and firsthand accounts verify that all buildings near the coast subjected to the surge are gone. All that is left are the foundations.

*Numerous areas in the mandatory evacuation zones have been or still are under many feet of water. Many of the dwellings which are submerged are single story.

We have a troubling and very difficult problem on our hands. Where did the rest of these people go? The answer, at least in part, is one that no one wants to talk about or acknowledge. It is the ever growing elephant in the closet.

There is absolutely NO DOUBT that hundreds, if not thousands of these missing people were swept to their death with the storm surge. Their bodies will never be found because they were swept out into the Gulf of Mexico. I hate to be the one breaking this news, but it is the truth; just as it was with Katrina.

Hundreds, if not thousands of bodies will be found once the water levels drop and the search teams can get into remote areas. I do not like writing this any more than anyone likes reading it; but the sooner everyone comes to grips with the reality of the situation the sooner the grieving and healing can begin. The one undeniable fact is that stern warnings were given over and over again that anyone who stayed in certain places in certain types of structures faced “certain death”.

Unless somebody comes up with a logical explanation to account for the whereabouts of well over one hundred thousand people, the unfortunate reality is that many of these people perished. This is truly a heart wrenching thought. I pray this morbid post proves to be wrong. I pray there is some other logical explanation for the whereabouts of so many people. Unfortunately, I believe I could pray night and day for months to no avail.

10 Responses to “Where Are the 140,000 People who faced “Certain Death”?”

  1. 1 Duckie
    September 16, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Where are you getting the number 140,000? There simply aren’t that many people in Galveston. They may have found 2000 people FROM THE ISLAND (as reported in the news). But it is not 2000 of 140,000. Could be 140,000 in ALL evacuation zones (Galveston, Bolivar, Surfside, Freeport, Crystal Beach, High Island, Bayou Vista, Tiki Island, Dickinson, and so forth).

    Relax, there will not be that many deaths. MANY people in those evac zones have returned. Many of those places have power (Texas City, League City) and are getting power back because they are not in flood-damaged areas.

    Recheck your stats before trying to turn this into the second 1900 Storm. :o)

    But like after the 1900 Storm, we rebuilt then…and we’ll do it again. Count on it.

  2. September 16, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Hold on there Duckie–From the very beginning of this storm, every media outlet has constantly used the figure of 140,000 as the TOTAL in all areas of Texas and Louisiana who ignored the mandatory evacuation orders. Of course they couldn’t all be in Galveston since the population is around 60,000.
    I am not trying to make this disaster anything. I just want accountability. Either there never were 140,000 or there never was that grave of danger to say 140,000 faced certain death.
    I do hope and pray Galveston rises again even though I know at present things are tough.

  3. September 16, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    I have the same fear you do. Those shots from the air show us complete devastation in some areas. The death toll is going to rise, and dramatically as the days go on.

  4. September 17, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Why don’t you send your “Where Are the 140,000 People Who Faced Certain Death?” by email to all of the major networks and newpapers? I emailed a very similiar message to all of the major news networks yesterday. My thoughts were exactly as yours are. There was an obvious news blackout and anyone who had been listening and watching the reports would have noticed it. I thought possibly the authorities in Texas were trying to save face and cared more about not appearing like those in authority during Katrina and being called “ill prepared”. I have heard repeatedly today it being reported that “there were 20 deaths total during Ike and most of them were outside of Texas.” It is insulting that they would think I believe this, or anyone who has been paying attention believes it. Anyone who saw the BRIEF ariel shots the news has reported knows this can not be true- even if they were only half way paying attention. It is disturbing to think officials care more for their appearance than for people’s lives. This is an American tragedy and I am outraged that no one seems to care. What about the families of those who are missing? I am sure they have been watching the networks for any clue on their whereabouts. There was a very brief report on Fox showing a grocery store where 200 people in Galveston had been riding out the storm together. There was very little left of the store and none of the people had been heard from and there was no sign of anyone. No one even mentioned after the presumable total number of those who have vanished as these 200 did. After this report, today it was reported of the 20 deaths and most outside of Texas. I even heard the report that the governor of Texas expects this to be treated like Katrina. How can he expect that when the media has been silenced? Also, people are not going to give or go volunteer as they did in Katrina with the blackout on the media. People are considering it old news now because they were not shown the truth and it is still not being covered truthfully. The issue of missing people is being swept under the rug. My heart goes out to the families who have no answers regarding the whereabouts of their loved ones. It means so little to the authorities that it has NOT EVEN BEEN MENTIONED ON THE NEWS, other than the small clip regarding the 200. There are thousands gone. Does ANYONE CARE? WHERE ARE THE INVESTAGATIVE REPORTERS? This is an American tragedy and it is being covered up. More, those in authority are doing nothing to help those who can’t find theri loved ones. The media could help them by reporting the truth. The governor of Texas wants to be treated like Katrina was. Then lift the media blackout! I am appalled more people have not noticed this. I read on a forum for those looking for the missing in Texas about someone who received a text from their mother that her roof was falling, the house was surrounded by fire and
    water was coming in, then never heard from her again and has never found her. Where are these stories on the news? Why are they lying to Americans and not being honest in the coverage? I thought we lived in a democracy. DOESN’T ANYONE CARE ABOUT THESE MISSING PEOPLE??????? Does the media think we are so ignorant that we would not notice and just turn our attention to Wall Street and the election? WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE’S LIVES PRESUMED DEAD AND NO ONE IS SAYING IT????!!!!

  5. 6 Ezra
    September 19, 2008 at 4:07 am

    The 140,000 refers to the number of people under mandatory evacuation orders along the entire Texas coast because of possible storm surge. This is much larger than number of people that stayed in areas that actually experienced storm surge.

    Having said, we’ve heard that about 22,000 people stayed in Galveston Island, that about 3,500 have since been evacuated, and that about 10 people have died. So we still have about 18,000 on Galveston Island that either died or are facing the current health crisis on the Island.

    The worst of the surge went to the east of Galveston Bay. From what I can tell, this area is mostly rural or vaction homes. While the devastation was certainly catastrophic, the human exposure seems to be relatively limited. For example, I’ve read that only 250-300 people stayed on Bolivar Peninsula, which was hardest hit by the surge.

  6. September 19, 2008 at 6:52 am

    I am with you on the meaning of the 140,000 except that is not how the media sources were making it sound right after the storm. They kept saying that 140,000 defied mandatory evacuation orders and had been warned of certain death. Now, if they had the figure right, where are these people now? If they had the number wrong, they need to print a retraction and state whatever the real numbers were, if anyone even knows.

  7. 8 Duckie
    September 20, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Part of the problem is that the media loves to hype storms — usually to the point that most people end up saying, “Well, that wasn’t such a big deal” after a storm. It breeds complacency.

    So this time, when the storm was deadly serious, not everyone took it that way. Not everyone got a clue that the SIZE of the storm, not the CATEGORY (a mere 2) was what we needed to be concerned about. The media did not, until it was too late, emphasize the possibility of the serious storm surge (something that is NOT registered by the same Saffir-Simpson scale that takes into account a storm’s wind speed and barometric pressure).

    Nevertheless, many places were lucky. We didn’t get the 22-foot surge in Galveston, but we certainly got water. There’s no doubt that 22 feet of water washing across the city (the main part behind the Seawall) would have wiped out every home and killed those who stayed behind. From the reports I got, including one about my own home, the second floors of many homes in the city survived. People would have been able to run upstairs to seek higher ground. However, lower-lying areas did get hit harder and those are areas where people could have perished if they didn’t evacuate. Some of coastal areas inland did not get the surge that was anticipated either, even though they were in evacuation zones also. It simply didn’t get as high nor as far as anticipated. For that, I am thankful. I would rather be told of complete devastation and the possibility for mass casualties so that I could be prepared, than to be told, “It won’t be that bad.”

    In short, the numbers may be high, but not as high as you are anticipating. Many of those who didn’t evacuate didn’t get the damage. So now the media is not talking about them anymore.

  8. September 20, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Thank you Duckie for your insight and first hand knowledge. I believe what you wrote pretty well sums up the situation for many.

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