Rita Postscript

Well, things look relatively normal on our side of town now. The grocery stores are open. We have gas at the Shell station and some other stations. I have to admit Shell has done the best job of supplying stations with gas.

I have learned from Katrina and Rita that it is functionally impossible to evacuate a major American city. You simply can’t do it in a feasible amount of time. The number being spouted is 2.5 to 2.7 million people evacuated from the Texas Gulf Coast. That’s well and good, but the population of the Houston metro area is well over 4 million. We didn’t even come close to a full evacuation. Given the amount of problems we saw with this evacuation, the odds of getting Houston area residents to bail out for the next one are pretty slim. I know a considerable number of people who won’t try. They either did evacuate or tried this time. They won’t do it next time. This doesn’t count the stubborn folks like the residents of YPS Manor who didn’t even consider evacuating.

The return plan also sucks. I note that no provision is made for folks that live south of I-10 and east of I-45. The day o’ return for those folks is curiously unspecified. The plan also calls for the outlying areas to come back first. I would think you push people as close to the coast as possible, then work your way back up the freeway. That way the people that have already returned don’t clog up the freeways for the people trying to return.

All things considered, we got lucky here. The storm lost a lot of force before landfall and moved far enough to the east to miss us. The storm has exposed some weaknesses in the disaster planning at YPS Manor, so hopefully we can address those before the next mass casualty situation becomes imminent.


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