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Katrina vs. Rita: A Study In Contrasts Part II

by @ 3:09 pm on September 23, 2005. Filed under General

Over at The Unrepentant Individual, Brad Warbiany takes issue with those comparing the elected officials in Texas to those in Louisiana in their reactions to impending natural disaster. I commented on this issue a few days ago.

This much is clear, in the run-up to Rita’s landfall, the officials on the ground in Texas do at least *seem* more competent than Ray Nagin and Kathleen Blanco were in advance of Katrina. In Nagin’s case, nothing epitomized that incompetence more than the picture of 200 school buses under water. As Rita gets closer, though, we’re seeing just how hard it is to evacuate a million plus people on a few days notice; highways are clogged, cars are running out of gas, and, tragically, accidents are happening. Whether the right actions were taken this time will only be known when the storm actually hits.

The fact that the city of Houston is evacuating with buses doesn?t mean those folks are great elected officials. Let?s face it. Humans have a tendency to learn from others mistakes, at least in the short term. They tend to forget those mistakes as time passes, and repeat them in the long term, of course. Humans have a second tendency, the belief that ?it won?t happen to me?. Three weeks ago, we got a big, big lesson in the latter. The preparations for Rita are an example of the former.

Agreed. But Katrina was not totally a surprise. Government officials had been talking about the “big one” hitting New Orleans for years and nothing was done about it. Evacuation plans were prepared, but when the time came the people in charge of implementing them failed.

Frankly, after Katrina, if the mayors of Houston and Galveston didn?t over-prepare for Rita, we?d be holding their feet to the fire.

True, but would the same thing happen in a year, or two years, after the immediate memory of Katrina has passed ?

As I said in my comment to Brad’s post, we did learn lessons from Katrina, but they are the same lessons that should have been learned from Andrew, Hugo, and other destructive hurricanes. The failure to both plan for such an event, and implement that plan when the time comes, is nothing less than sheer incompetence.

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