Hurricane Decision Made Too Early | Giftie Etcetera: Hurricane Decision Made Too Early

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hurricane Decision Made Too Early

My parents have been recommended to evacuate at 10 a.m. today. That's in a half hour from the time that I am posting this. That is too early.

They live in the next parish down from me. It's about halfway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. For Katrina, almost everyone had a lost or damaged roof. They should definitely evacuate for safety. But the call was made way too early. Now, I'm afraid people won't take the local government seriously because they set the time too early.

The local government is usually very reasonable. As an attorney in town, I know these guys. (I say "guys." Truly, most of the parish leaders are male. They just elected a female judge, so that is very exciting. Also, the women who work in the parish office definitely are strong, opinionated women who no doubt had a say in the decision-making. But the bottom line is that it is literally guys who made the ultimate decisions.) But the got it wrong.

Consider my parents. My parents are reasonable people. They have four different evacuation plans. They can stay with MIL. They can take the camper and drive to the Arkansas campground they love. Or they can stay with me or my sister in Baton Rouge. If a hurricane looks strong or like it's hitting directly, they certainly do evacuate.

But the evacuation was called for 10 a.m. today. My dad explained that they would not be leaving that early. They needed non-work daytime hours to board up the house. They couldn't take off to do it Friday because the evacuation wasn't called until Friday at the tail end of the workday. Lower coastal parishes need the chance to get on the road first. As my dad put it, if he lived in Grand Isle, he would always evacuate as soon as a hurricane came near the Gulf. But the parish called for a more northern parish to evacuate earlier than more southern parishes, violating, I might note, the statewide plan. Finally, it is only this morning that the forecasts are becoming more solid and reasonable. The decision should have been made this morning for this afternoon.

But that's not what happened. Fine, for my parents, who will assess and think intelligently. But what about the stubborn people. What about the ones who would have evacuated, but refuse, because they think the leaders are stupid and somehow "punished" for stupidity when the stupid people stay?

I just think the leaders jumped the gun.


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