Friday, September 23, 2005

Nightmare Exodus From Rita

Evacuation? What Evacuation? I like walking my car!As yet another example of government ineptitude, nearly 2 million people were urged to evacuate from the coast of Texas and Louisiana at once. Hasn't anyone over there heard of a staggered evacuation? Clearly, even after hurricane Katrina, there has been little attempt at planning this evacuation, much less local and state coordination. The result is entirely predictable and a miserable failure:

Highways leading inland out of Houston, a metropolitan area of 4 million people about an hour's drive from the shore, were clogged for up to 100 miles north of the city.

Drivers ran out of gas in 14-hour traffic jams or looked in vain for a place to stay as hotels filled up all the way to the Oklahoma and Arkansas line. Others got tired of waiting in traffic and turned around and went home.

Service stations reported running out of gasoline, and police officers along the highways carried gas to motorists whose tanks were empty. Texas authorities asked the Pentagon for help in getting gasoline to drivers stuck in traffic.

The traffic jam extended well into Louisiana, with I-10 jammed from Lake Charles through Baton Rouge. State police said the biggest backups were at exits, where cars stacked up in long lines of motorists trying to get gasoline.
The response to this situation has been swift by our elected officials. Well, at least the finger-pointing has swiftly begun:
"If the hurricane comes in at a certain angle," said Houston Mayor Bill White, "being on the highway is a death trap."

Brazoria County Judge John Willy complained that Houston and Harris County jumped the gun, encouraging evacuation before people on the coast could get past the big city.

"Everybody did a fabulous job down here until Houston-Harris County forgot that there was a plan, and they clogged up the freeways and byways where there's still traffic sitting and waiting," Willy said.

But both White and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels said late Thursday that they never called for a complete evacuation of Houston or Harris County.
It seems painfully clear that local, state and the federal government are - exposed by Katrina and now Rita - completely inadequate, unprepared, and wholly oblivious to their constituents. This should prove that both Democrats and Republican leadership have failed, governors have forgotten how to govern, government agencies and branches are ineffectual and uncoordinated, and resources needed by authorities are drastically under-funded.

Something needs to change. Voters should stop voting for "values" and begin voting for progress and ultimately reform. The citizens of this country need to wake up and take control of their government rather than continue the status quo of complacent consumerism and indifference.

If any good comes out of these disasters, perhaps it will come in the form of greater participation and voters. The way this country does business must change or it is doomed to repeat these failures. And as constituents continue indiscriminately feeding the corporate politics, the government will only increase in isolation from its citizens.


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