September 23, 2005
Rita Madness: Getting Schooled On An Evacuation
If the image of partly submerged school buses is destined to become an enduring reminder of the Katrina debacle, a picture like the one just below it could well earn a similar designation in connection to hurricane Rita.
While the Republicans — running interference for Bush and FEMA — have turned this first photo into a visual indictment of Louisiana’s state and local officials, Governor Blanco continues to assert that FEMA ordered the buses held. (To be fair, I’ve read a number of progressive bloggers who feel that both deserve blame.)
Meanwhile, in yesterday’s pre-disaster disaster, it was Houston Mayor Bill White and Texas Governor Rick Perry who had failed to anticipate how a mass exodus could effectively cripple the escape route. Although the plan earlier in the day was to open both sides of the highway to “same way” traffic, the strategy broke down leading to scenes as painfully out-of-proportion as these above.
Late yesterday, White was in full “damage control” mode, asking for military support to rush fuel to stranded motorists, warning that people — absent food and water — could literally die on the roads, and insisting that he had never formally urged people to evacuate.
Beyond the trauma of endless gridlock (generating visual evidence that will surely endure through the next state election cycle), lets hope that Texas hasn’t created a large-scale catastrophe in the course of trying to avoid one.
(image 1: Phil Coale/AP. September 1, 2005. New Orleans. From: YahooNews. image 2: AFP/James Nielsen. Galveston, Texas. September 23, 2005. image 3: Pat Sullivan/AP. Houston. September 22, 2005. From: YahooNews. image 4: AP Photo/Ron Heflin. Fairfield, Texas. Thursday, Sept. 22, 2005 From: YahooNews.)