Saturday, September 24, 2005

Rita beforemath

I have always noticed that Americans tend to over-react in many situations with the implementation of simplistic solutions that do not work in the long run (Venezuelans tend to have the opposite problem, suffering from inaction while trying to find the perfect solution). Among many other places I saw that happen after September 11, with all the security measures that got implemented immediately that not only where not really secure and were mostly giving a false sense of security, but were just inconveniencing the public at large.

Nothing exemplifies this more than the reaction to the hurricane that is about to hit U.S. coasts. Houston Mayor Bill White called for immediate mandatory evacuation, probably thinking himself safe of Blanco's and Nagin's faults. But the obvious consequences of such action completely escaped him (1). An infernal gridlock (2) that has already claimed the life of 26 souls (3), and has put quite a few people in a much greater danger than what they were if they had just stayed put or found local shelters (4).

They thought that the planning was being taken care of, but failed to see such an obvious consequence that anyone that has given any thought to road infrastructure could have pointed out. Lousiana Governor Blanco, seems wiser by comparison, as in her evacuation speech for this hurricane she called for everyone to "...get a map and take side-roads headed north, every mile north is a mile that you will be safer, keep in mind that the highways will be extremely congested, head north..." (5)

We will have to wait for the aftermath of the hurricane to figure out how effective this reaction to Rita was. But what will now happen when those same Texans, that were trapped for 15 hours or more in a gridlock, are asked to evacuate next time an even nastier hurricane hits?. Any guesses?

  1. race against rita 160km jams, 2.5 million on the road, officials panic as hurricane approaches
  2. The Evacuation: 'It Was Like the End of the World,' One Texan Says
  3. Rita rains chaos on coast; Houston may escape the worst
  4. Texans Rush to Shelters as Hurricane Rita Approaches
  5. Blanco urges evacuation; FEMA, Guard prepare Governor's request for additional troops yet to be answered
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