September 22, 2005 by lonbud
Like many Americans, I’m sure, I sat riveted this evening to the news of Hurricane Rita, another Category 4 weather event bearing 145 MPH winds and possible 20 foot storm surges, churning through the Gulf of Mexico, taking aim on the beleagured Gulf Coast.
Millions of people from Panama City, Florida to Brownsville, Texas beat a retreat from the possible death and destruction augured by yet another natural disaster-in-the-making.
As I watched live footage of hundreds of thousands of cars streaming north out of Houston and listened to reports of the Bush administration touting a newfound readiness for dealing with possible response issues in the wake of Rita’s landfall, it was all too clear to me the people in charge still lack fundamental skills for managing even an orderly evacuation with advance notice of possible chaos and devastation.
Helicopter footage of the daylight evacuation under clear skies and dry conditions showed vast numbers of cars jampacked in the northbound lanes of Interstate 45, while all four lanes of the nominally southbound lanes of the freeway stood virtually empty.
“This is the worst planning I’ve ever seen,” said Judie Anderson, who covered just 45 miles in 12 hours after setting out from her home in the Houston suburb of LaPorte. “They say we’ve learned a lot from Hurricane Katrina. Well, you couldn’t prove it by me.”
A friend of mine with a background in the telecommunications industry put it well, saying, “This is just a switching issue.”
How could the best and brightest minds in the government –federal, state, local, you name it– not see that fully half of the resources at hand were being ignored, wasted, to the detriment of every single one of us?
300,00 troops at the ready? Water trucks and helicopters and extra band aids? We can’t even get out of our own way!
Look at us, and be afraid. Be very, very afraid.