June 1 – Are you prepared?

Posted on Thursday 1 June 2006

This is it, folks — the official First Day of Hurricane Season. Are you ready?

Over here in Texas, officials have been working on a coordinated state-wide plan to manage (coherently) a more orderly evacuation and preparation process. Comforting, I must say, for those of us in this area who were so deeply involved with the Katrina aftermath, even as Rita roiled our way and scared us out of our normally-rational minds.

Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly), things are hitting a couple of snags (Thanks, Dallas).

Polimom is absolutely confident, though, that these will be worked out — not for me, but for those at lower elevations nearer the coast. If I learned nothing else last year, it’s that I’m staying put; it was pure-d post-Katrina panic that made me want to run last year.

Even as Texas gears up, though, Polimom can’t help but watch the preparations along the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts…. and worry in particular about New Orleans.

Because they’re not okay.

They have thousands of people living in FEMA trailers that aren’t designed to handle major winds. There are levees slumping, repairs unfinished, and levee sections that stood, but were damaged (and thus are risky). Not only that, but more reports are surfacing that the city had been at risk for a very long time; they’d just been lucky.

Because the area is so very vulnerable this year, the New Orleans evacuation plan will have people hitting the road early… and often.

How will New Orleanians be welcomed? If this letter to the Chronicle is any indication of wider sentiment, Polimom doesn’t think it looks good. The writer seems very understanding of Dallas’ reluctance to house 40,000 special needs evacuees, because, of course, look what happened to Houston:

The majority of Louisiana’s special needs evacuees are probably going to stay put in Houston. The city of New Orleans is not only not inviting them back to New Orleans, it is discouraging them from ever returning, content that others will shoulder the ongoing responsibilities. At least in the immigration debate, there is no dispute that illegal immigrants are coming here in large measure to work, while the majority of the “special needs” evacuees from Louisiana are either unwilling or unable to take care of themselves or their dependents.

When the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s subsidies finally end and all the continuing costs of the “special needs” evacuees come to roost on the taxpayers of Houston and Harris County, the politicians who are responsible (that’s Mayor Bill White and County Judge Robert Eckels) better watch out come Election Day.

Gotta like those quotation marks around the special needs, eh?

We have, it’s true, had to deal with quite a number of cultural integration issues. Polimom’s written about any number of them, including the crime. Somehow, though, the few has come to equate to the many.

Is this just one Houstonian’s myopia? If this blogger is any indication, evidently not (my emphasis):

I feel bad for Houston because in a perfect world, the plan would be ideal. Unfortunately, everyone has seen what happened to Houston and they don’t want the same to happen to them.

Are these writers totally wrong? Has everything been sweetness and light in Houston? Ohmygoodnessno, of course not…. but the wider implications for New Orleans, and Louisiana, are devastating, and it bothers me badly. Because New Orleans is a long way from being “on its feet”, and it still needs compassionate assistance from its fellow citizens.

The coastal communities don’t need to hear that the generous spirit of Houston was a mistake! What a bizarre sentiment. The message that should be going out is, “Of course we’ll do everything we can in the face of another catastrophe. Our ties to you are very strong: you are part of this region; this state; this country. In the face of disaster, we will be here.”

It’s June 1 — and it’s more than the people along the coasts who need to be prepared.

5 Comments for 'June 1 – Are you prepared?'

  1.  
    June 1, 2006 | 12:18 pm
     

    Ready? Hell, I’m not unpacked from getting here yet. But we’ll be ready when the time comes. Did you notice the notes in the articles about keeping the evacuees in Louisiana? Right neighborly, but not unexpected.

  2.  
    June 1, 2006 | 12:26 pm
     

    Hey! Glad you made it safe and sound!

    No, it’s not unexpected — nor do I think it would be reasonable to be building places like Houston or Atlanta into a plan. Part of that (at least here) relates to our similar exposure to a hurricane, but also because the point of planning is to avoid the chaos and disasters of prior years’ “non-plans”.

    It just boggles my mind, though, that people are looking at Houston’s model of generosity and saying, “oh nonononono. Bad idea…..” And then, of course, Houstonians now include thousands of former New Orleanians, ergo…

    Jeez.

  3.  
    June 1, 2006 | 12:57 pm
     

    Just wrote a post on the Mental Health forum last night. One of the overwhelming feelings was one of betrayal and marginalization. I wrote two weeks ago that I didn’t think places that were open-armed before will be so welcoming this time, and apparently I guessed that right.

    Given the thoughts tossed around the room last night at Oswald’s about feeling “apart from,” I gotta kind of laugh at the use of the terms illegal immigrants and New Orleans evacuees in the same paragraph. Kinda proves those in that room last night weren’t entirely off base, huh? I’m actually giggling as I write this. Maybe I’m just nuts—no response to that is necessary.

    BTW, Poli, I did read the article and just read your post on the sinking of NOLA. I want the same question answered. Are they considering this at all in their “engineering?”

    I still think my Steinbeck/WPA regionial shelter idea is what’s needed. Clearly from the sentiments you quoted, our shotgun everyone out onto the highway approach isn’t going to work well on so many levels.

  4.  
    June 2, 2006 | 8:26 am
     

    This year is supposed to be worse than last. Take care! Think I’ll stay up here in the metroplex.

  5.  
    June 2, 2006 | 3:24 pm
     

    Sandra,

    That’s doubtless going to be a MUCH less stressfull place this season. But of course, y’all are a destination on the outbound evacuation exodus…. so maybe not so stressful after all? (smile…)

    Maybe Indiana….. hmmmm…..

Comments on this blog are subject to the guidelines stated in the Comments Policy.
First-time comments are held for moderator approval. Please use a valid email address.

Leave a comment

(required)

(required)


Information for comment users
Line and paragraph breaks are implemented automatically. Your e-mail address is never displayed. Please consider what you're posting.

Use the buttons below to customise your comment.


RSS feed for comments on this post | TrackBack URI