KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Friday, September 23, 2005

Evacuation Time in Texas, Part 8

I stand corrected, after reading a New York Times article. Not 1.8 million but 2.5 million Texans are trying to escape Hurricane Rita's path.

Miles of Traffic as Texans Heed Order to Leave

By Ralph Blumenthal
Published: September 23, 2005

HOUSTON, Sept. 22 — Heeding days of dire warnings about Hurricane Rita, as many as 2.5 million people jammed evacuation routes on Thursday, creating colossal 100-mile-long traffic jams that left many people stranded and out of gas as the huge storm bore down on the Texas coast.

Acknowledging that "being on the highway is a deathtrap," Mayor Bill White asked for military help in rushing scarce fuel to stranded drivers.

A deathtrap. Oh, now I feel better. Now I won't panic about my siblings' fate.

Mr. White and the top official in Harris County, Judge Robert Eckels, admitted that their plans had not anticipated the volume of traffic. They maintained that they had not urged such a widespread evacuation, although only a day earlier they invoked the specter of Hurricane Katrina, and told residents that the "time for waiting was over." . . .

"The question is how many people will be gravely ill and die sitting on the side of the freeway," said State Representative Garnet Coleman, Democrat of Houston. "Dying not from the storm, but from the evacuation." . . .

Judge Eckels acknowledged under questioning that the massive congestion "was not in the plan." . . .

Mayor White deflected questions from reporters asking him to assess who was to blame for what happened Thursday, specifically the lack of gasoline where needed.

"This is not the time to look at who should have done what on the emergency," the mayor said. "This is not the time we're going to get into who should've done what."

So, Mr. Mayor, you seem to have taken a page from President Bush's script for behavior by public officials faced with responsibility. Whom shall I call to report a missing brother, sister, brother-in-law, nephew, niece, and ex-brother-in-law?

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11
Part 12 Part 13

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