Right now, as I write this, Houston, TX, is in the middle of a once-a-century catastrophe. Nearly three feet of rain have fallen in a couple of days, and there is no end in site. Houston and its suburbs could easily get four-and-a-half-feet of rain before it is all over.
— NWS (@NWS) August 27, 2017
Right now, a major effort is underway to try to evacuate tens of thousands of Houstonians who are stranded in areas that are flooded. Many are on the roofs of their houses awaiting rescue. The effort is being carried out by first responders from out-of-state as well as concerned Texans.
Dear God some people give me such hope:
REPORTER: What are you going to do?
HERO: I'm gonna save some lives.pic.twitter.com/Qj2nmvCD97
— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) August 27, 2017
Did this have to happen?
Two days ago Texas Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference. It was clear at that time that Harvey was an immense storm and that, at least according to that pustulent bag of leftwing flatulence Neil DeGrasse Tyson, was guaran-f***ing-teed to hit the Texas coast.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) told residents to prepare for “a very major disaster” in Hurricane Harvey during a Friday news conference.
Despite no mandatory evacuations being issued, Abbott urged citizens to evacuate from low-lying and coastal areas while there is still time. Harvey, he said, “has turned into a very complex and dangerous hurricane,” and said the state will be “dealing with immense, really record-setting flooding in multiple regions across the state of Texas.”
“Even if an evacuation order hasn’t been issued by your local official,” Abbott stressed, “if you’re in an area between Corpus Christi and Houston, you need to strongly consider evacuating.”
Abbott said mandatory evacuation orders are left up to local officials who have the best understanding of their regions.
Speaking at the afternoon news conference, Abbott said people may think they can ride out the initial storm surge, but “what you don’t know, and what nobody else knows right now, is the magnitude of flooding that will be coming.”
“You don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you could be subject to a search and rescue.”
This was sound and measured advice which any responsible public official would have given. But then, you wouldn’t be holding a position of responsibility in Harris County, TX.
Please think twice before trying to leave Houston en masse. No evacuation orders have been issued for the city. #Harvey
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) August 25, 2017
The head of Harris County emergency services weighed in:
Local officials know best. Houston has no evacuation order. In Harris County: very limited to select communities. LOCAL LEADERS KNOW BEST. https://t.co/DpW11lb1En
— Francisco Sanchez (@DisasterPIO) August 25, 2017
Let me make an observation here. Usually local official know Jack Sh** about anything during a major disaster. Local governments aren’t equipped or staffed or trained to deal with a cataclysmic event like a Cat 4 Hurricane. Local officials don’t have access to the same information as available to state and federal emergency management organizations. By and large the caliber of people that you find congregating to the higher levels of emergency management in local governments isn’t that which you’d want to make calls about risk involving potential loss of life. There is documentary evidence to prove this guy’s f***ing incompetence and hubris on any television screen.
Via The Daily Beast
Even before Abbott’s comments on Friday, it should’ve been clear Houston would flood.
Meteorologist Eric Holthaus told The Daily Beast that by midday last Wednesday there had been “pretty compelling model agreement on major flooding” and that the “upgrade in forecast to major hurricane on Thursday morning I think made most meteorologists absolutely convinced.
“Keep in mind though,” he added, “there’s never been a mandatory evacuation based on a rainfall forecast, so I’m not sure that people even knew what to do with a forecast as dire as this one.”
Contrast this with the advice given by the mayor of another Texas city in Harvey’s path:
Get out now,” said Rockport Mayor Pro-tem Patrick Rios prior to the storm. “Those that are going to stay, it’s unfortunate but they should make some type of preparations. Mark their arm with a Sharpie pen. Put their social security number on it and their name.”
“We’ve got first responders available, but once it gets bad, we are not going to put their lives in jeopardy. They will not get help. We will not be dispatching folks that decided to stay,” said Rios.
And then the fiddle music started.
Expecting a lot of rain over the next 4 days. For areas prone to flood, take the time to reposition some of your furniture just n case. st
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) August 26, 2017
I know you are watching the game/boxing match, but tonight please be attentive to the weather reports. Rain bands will be coming thru. st
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) August 27, 2017
We got a break for several hours during the day, but we could get rain of 2-3 inches/hr over the next several hours. Please be alert. st
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) August 27, 2017
And reality set in.
I can keep telling you to stay put, but the reality is YOU CAN'T GET ANYWHERE RIGHT NOW. pic.twitter.com/jcif3OnnIa
— Francisco Sanchez (@DisasterPIO) August 27, 2017
There is no nice way of putting this. Houston in a Democrat stronghold and the urge to make Greg Abbott look like an idiot was just too big of a temptation to resist. Perhaps the fiasco of the Hurricane Rita evacuation caused the leadership in Houston to miscalculate. Even so, there was no defensible reason for the mayor and his minion to go public and contradict some very sound advice and put lives at risk, both of citizens who did not evacuate and of first responders who will be called upon to try and rescue them. There were all sorts of options available to the Houston mayor short of pooh-poohing the imminent arrival of a major storm. For instance, he could have agreed with Abbott and emphasized that there was no evacuation order or he could have ordered the mandatory evacuation of areas that were known to be vulnerable to flooding.
Will there be consequences for this? Probably not. Democrats don’t vote Democrats out of office for corruption and incompetence. Take a look at any major US city you wish if you desire evidence.
What is predictable is that by Tuesday, the Houston mayor will be slamming state and federal response to the disaster and no one in the media is going to look twice at how the catastrophe happened.