A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Texas vs. Louisiana

Friday night I stayed up until 1am watching Fox News coverage of Hurricane Rita. When I wasn't busy Saturday, I watched more.

I remember one of the Fox News correspondents, perhaps Shep Smith, who was in Beaumont, Texas, metioning there was already a city sanitation truck out picking up the big branches that had been blown down. New Orleans, in contrast, looked like a garbage dump exploded and I didn't see anyone bothering to pick it up.

What a different aftermath in Texas than we saw in Louisiana.

I was quite struck by how much better organized and how calm Texas officials were. They were able to evacuate 2.5 million people. They had police and firemen organized for the duration of the storm and the aftermath. They had their emergency plans in place and followed them.

To say that Texas is only so well prepared because they have learned lessons from Hurricane Katrina is silly. Emergency plans that run that smoothly have been in place for a long time. People knew what they were supposed to do.

Louisiana was a mess. Officials there knew Hurricane Katrina was coming right at them. They knew New Orleans is below sea level and surrounded by water in the form of the Gulf, Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River. They have dealt with hurricanes before. They were just incompetent and didn't follow their emergency plans.

It isn't as though no hurricane has ever before hit New Orleans. This wasn't their first time.

During their press conferences, Texas officials, Democrats and Republicans alike, were calm, organized, and competent.

In contrast, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin can't open his mouth without sounding like a typical rapper, with the F-word every 3 words. Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco puts on a cry-baby face and starts blubbering in the midst of demanding more, more, more from the federal government.

In Texas, the police and local officials announced plans to arrest any looters. Louisiana officials didn't do so until after massive looting had taken place. I heard one Texas official say that the prisoners had been evacuated, so there was plenty of space in the jails for any looters. Shep Smith even showed stores where windows had been broken by Rita; the sometimes expensive items were still sitting there.

Granted, Texas did not have the massive flooding that New Orleans did, but the flooding in NO didn't start until the day after the hurricane (24 hours later) and such flooding should have been a deterrent to looters by making things harder to get to.

As for the evacuation, yes, there were some big problems in Houston, but what can we expect when 2.5 million people decide to leave one place at the same time? Next time they will be even better prepared. New Orleans was lazy about evacuating.

Again, just watching the news after Rita struck, I was just amazed by how much different everything was than with New Orleans after Katrina. Texas has competent officials; Louisiana has corrupt ones. You reap what you sow.