2005/09/24

Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Katrina

Just read Google News articles and a couple blogs about Hurricane Rita. Looks like Houston and the US were relatively lucky so far. Rita weakened to a Category 3 by the time it hit, and it appears Houston won't be in the direct path of the storm. Over the next day or so we will find out some of the particulars, but for now things appear to have not been a Katrina repeat.

Some areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina received a repeat ravaging by Rita. At least one levee had a hole caused in it by increased Mississippi River levels resulting from Rita's passage, resulting in repeat flooding of New Orleans. One official said that Rita cancelled out all their cleanup work in certain sections of New Orleans. Must be frustrating and demoralizing to work day and night for a couple weeks only to have one's efforts negated by nature's vagaries. The residents and workers in the storm-affected areas must dread listening to weather forecasts, feeling the wind start to pick up and seeing the sky darken with storm clouds for fear these things might tell them yet another hurricane is heading their way.

What will historians have to say about the impacts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the United States economy, political scene and national spirit? Will the storms result in a more vibrant economy and strong sense of direction, bringing significant good from unquestionable devastation. Or will the negative impacts of the damage to property and people's lives cause widespread problems and economic downturn, both regionally and nationally. Will the nation rally and focus on the cleanup and rebuilding, or will the main theme be problems and the darker side of human nature and natural disasters. Or will these two storms be just a minor footnote in the overall history of the south coast. If recovery efforts receive positive and persisting direction and support from the President and other political and private leaders, and if the residents of the damaged areas take this tragedy as an opportunity to show their resilience, their is a high probability the hurricanes of 2005 will be viewed as a rebuilding period for the South, a time of planning for how to reconstruct the cities, houses and lives to best deal with future hurricanes that hit these areas.

It is a fact that, just as Oklahoma will continue to have hurricanes and certain rivers will continue to flood nearby areas on a periodic basis, hurricanes will continue to hit the southern and eastern coasts of the US. The question is, knowing that future hurricanes will wreak some level of havoc in those coastal areas, how do area residents and officials, as well as the rest of the US, rebuild from Katrina and Rita, and prepare for the impact of that future damage.

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