Mayor: It Was a "Death Trap" .... FEMA: "Effective"

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mayor: It Was a "Death Trap" .... FEMA: "Effective"

Are there any lessons that federal emergency planners can learn from the latest hurricane that struck the Gulf coast? Apparently not. On NPR's "Morning Edition," that was essentially the response from a FEMA official who was interviewed about Hurricane Rita.

NPR's Steve Inskeep pointed out that soon before Rita hit the coast, fleeing evacuees from southeastern Texas clogged highways heading north of the Houston area, bringing traffic to a complete standstill. Many motorists ran out of gas as their cars waited in the gridlock. The situation prompted Mayor Bill White of Houston to warn that the chaos on northbound freeways was a potential "death trap" if the hurricane hit land and then veered toward the metro area.

Inskeep asked if the highway bottlenecks would lead FEMA to talk with state officials about rethinking future evacuation procedures. The FEMA spokesman's answer: Basically, that's up to the state and local officials. Inskeep then asked for the FEMA spokesman's assessment of the highway gridlock. From his perspective, said the FEMA spokesman, the evacuation seemed to be "effective."

While Texas' highways north of the Houston area were choked with traffic as Rita approached, what was Gov. Rick Perry saying?
"Be calm. Be strong. Say a prayer for Texas."
That's most reassuring, Governor.

I guess effective emergency planning is something we just have to leave up to supernatural beings.

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