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Rita Critique: Preparations


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So Houston finally had it's first natural disaster test since T.S. Allison in 2001. For one thing, we were WAY more prepard than New Orleans, and I think for the simple fact that we spent a lot of time and money on infrastructure, awareness, and flood control after Allison happened. Many news media were even using the models UT made for Houston/Galveston after Allison for if a Cat 5 storm were to hit. For that, plus from the lessons learned from Katrina, let's face it, the evacuation was tremendous. A LOT went right, and a lot can be improved, and this can be a thread where we start discussing that as we prepare for an much larger and stronger storm to eventually come our way.

To start off, the few things that went wrong from what I saw:

-Not enough fuel along the evacuation routes

-Everyone trying to drive out of Houston at the same time on the same routes (either we need more lanes or we need more organization on the state level to get traffic moving out smoothly and not deter people from leaving).

-No hype from the media on how catastrophic the storm MIGHT be. At least, no hype unless you are SURE the storm will hit as a Cat 5. If this happens again, I'm afraid when a REAL big hurricane directly hits us, not enough people may take the storm seriously.

-Galveston needs more protection from a storm surge than a 17 foot seawall on one half of the island. At least, protection to the point where we're not afraid of another 1900 episode. If that can't be done, we might as well ask the whole city to move out now, which I think is more unrealistic.

-Port Arthur may need stronger levees now that the storm has passed. They withstood Rita, but I think after a hurricane hit a city with a levee system, those levees may not be as strong as they were before the storm.

What went right to me:

-People took the warnings seriously

-minimal loss of life

-Galveston has another day to plan out how to exist after a Cat 5 were to directly hit the island

-Houstonians get to use Rita as a "fire drill" so to speak instead of as a benchmark for when we lost everything

-GREAT local and state leadership during the event

Thank god it wasn't as bad as anticipated. What else did you think went right or you want to see improved in terms of what we can do?

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