Saturday, September 24, 2005

Next Hurricane: ScrewU


Carlos Barria/REUTERS


Rick Wilking/REUTERS

"This is a catastrophic hurricane that is headed toward the coast of Texas, and the president wants to go and be able to see some of the preparations that are underway and thank all those who are involved in preparing for this response," White House press secretary Scott McClellan

Yeah. Well. Hurricane Rita caused some damage and flooding, especially unwelcome in New Orleans. But for the most part it caused more fear than anything else. And more confusion. And far too much traffic. Which may have resulted in needless deaths. It could still get worse, but most likely we'll continue to see a bigger flood of media coverage than water.

CNN and MSNBC have been showing--not a lot--all day. Whole neighborhoods in Texas ... intact. Houses built on stilts ... intact. Maybe a roof half off. Some piers down. Some smaller buildings wrecked. Maybe some streets, and all those stilts, under a couple inches of water. And who's flying in to the rescue, right on cue? Who else but The Bushman. Nobody's there, what's the point, dude? (Well, maybe that is the point.)

People were told to evacuate and they did. But those humongous traffic jams around Houston -- with opposite direction highway lanes empty because no agency could agree whose call it was to open them. No extra gasoline available because no agency had thought to stock up on it. People trapped and helpless once again, in cars and on roadways in grave and immediate danger.

Why? I mean, really: WHY??

All states supposedly had FEMA and local agencies in place to plan for disasters before Katrina. Every city in American supposedly has evacuation, rescue, relief and recovery plans for various contingencies. Katrina's roar and FEMA's whimper put the lie to that preparedness myth. But from the instant Katrina happened, those agencies--especially along Hurricane Alley on the Gulf Coast and inland--should have been working feverishly to prepare for the next one.

They claimed they were ready for Rita. They had nearly a week's warning. Yet now we're hearing "We weren't expecting 2 million people to evacuate." "We have a lot to learn after Katrina." "We're still getting the kinks out."

Yo! Get the people out! You know the size of your population. You told them to evacuate. After Katrina, and with worse predictions about Rita, what did you think they'd do, stay home to drown?

Most are drowning anyway -- in endless bureaucratic foul ups.



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