So why did people run from Hurricane Rita?
Having seen the handiwork of Rita's vicious cousin, Katrina, all of Houston's coastal suburbs and a good percentage of everybody else in the area decided that discretion was the better part of valor. There was no talk of hurricane parties.
As the week wore on and Rita's ranking escalated as fast as the price of crude — all the way to Category 5 in what seemed like the blink of an eye — so did the anxiety of people not easily moved.
Residents don't flee The Woodlands, 100 miles from the coast. This time was different.
"Events make an impression to the extent they are recent, frequent or very intense," said Michael Lindell, a professor at the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center at Texas A&M University. "We know that storms the magnitude of Rita are not frequent. But there was one that was recent and very intense."
Speaking of which, there's an editorial and a news piece on that subject today. I'm still thinking about how I think things could be done better - it's easy enough to point to problems, but coming up with workable fixes, not so much.
In other hurricane news:
I haven't worked my way through these stories yet, but the South Florida Sun-Sentinel has an investigative report on FEMA's recent history of disaster mismanagement. Lots of grist there for your mills, so check it out. Thanks to Sergio for the tip.
Everybody's probably already seen this debunking of the lurid tales of rapes and murders at the Superdome in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but if not, do read it. Bottom line: It was about 99% baloney.
After five days managing near-riots, medical horrors and unspeakable living conditions inside the Superdome, Louisiana National Guard Col. Thomas Beron prepared to hand over the dead to representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Following days of internationally reported killings, rapes and gang violence inside the Dome, the doctor from FEMA - Beron doesn't remember his name - came prepared for a grisly scene: He brought a refrigerated 18-wheeler and three doctors to process bodies.
"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalls the doctor saying.
The real total was six, Beron said.
Of those, four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide, said Beron, who personally oversaw the turning over of bodies from a Dome freezer, where they lay atop melting bags of ice. State health department officials in charge of body recovery put the official death count at the Dome at 10, but Beron said the other four bodies were found in the street near the Dome, not inside it. Both sources said no one had been killed inside.