Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Katrina vs Rita: Facts and fancies

Two Katrina-vs-Rita comparisons are floating around the Internet right now. One is a data comparison chart that shows the two storms were far more alike that we think. In fact, the chart shows Rita was bigger just before landfall and potentially more lethal as it moved slower across the landscape.

The other is a whimsical -- and purely political -- 22-point comparison between the storm reactions in Texas and Louisiana. It's printed below in the form it appears in the blogosphere, so don't write in calling me a racist Republican for making this stuff up ... it ain't mine. It's probably best to read it as more of a reflection of our famous Texas pride than a true representation of human nature.

Is it factual? Let's just say it's "inspired by a true story." For example, Texas is obviously a strong Red State ... but so is Louisiana, and Jefferson County, Texas -- my home and the more populous heart of Rita's wrack and ruin -- hasn't voted for a Republican president since Eisenhower. Texans learned from Louisianans' horrors, so many things were done better, but not necessarily because Republicans are wiser than Democrats. I have added "footnotes" where further facts are known, but honestly, the writers obviously didn't intend for this be "factual" or fair ...

So get a laugh or get peeved. Here it is:

Katrina vs Rita
(and Texas vs Louisiana)

1. Texas: Productive, industrious state run by Republicans.
Louisiana: Government dependent, welfare state run by Democrats.

2. Texas: Residents take responsibility to protect and evacuate themselves.
Louisiana: Residents wait for government to protect and evacuate them.

3. Texas: Local and state officials take responsibility for protecting their citizens and property.
Louisiana: Local and state officials blame federal government for not protecting their citizens and property.

4. Texas: Command and control remains in place to preserve order.
Louisiana: Command and control collapses allowing lawlessness.

5. Texas: Law enforcement officers remain on duty to protect city.
Louisiana: Law enforcement officers desert their posts to protect themselves.

6. Texas: Local police watch for looting.
Louisiana: Local police participate in looting.

7. Texas: Law and order remains in control, 8 looters tried it, 8 looters arrested.
Louisiana: Anarchy and lawlessness breaks out, looters take over city, no arrests, criminals with guns have to be shot by federal troops.

8. Texas: Considerable damage caused by hurricane.
Louisiana: Considerable damage caused by looters (but certainly not as much as the hurricane.)

9. Texas: Flood barriers hold preventing cities from flooding. (Port Arthur suffered significant flood damage from storm surge.)
Louisiana: Flood barriers fail due to lack of maintenance allowing city to flood.

10. Texas: Orderly evacuation away from threatened areas, few remain. (Early evacuation, yes, but "Texodus" wasn't always a model of orderliness. Horror stories abound.)
Louisiana: 25,000 fail to evacuate, are relocated to another flooded area.

11. Texas: Citizens evacuate with personal 3-day supply of food and water. (But some forgot to fill up with gas or couldn't find it before they fled.)
Louisiana: Citizens fail to evacuate with 3-day supply of food and water, do without it for the next 4 days.

12. Texas: FEMA brings in tons of food and water for evacuees. State officials provide accessible distribution points.
Louisiana: FEMA brings in tons of food and water for evacuees. State officials prevent citizens from reaching distribution points and vice versa.

13. Louisiana: Media focuses on poor blacks in need of assistance, blames Bush.
Texas: Media can't find poor blacks in need of assistance, looking for something else to blame on Bush. (To be honest, the national media left Rita early on because the storm simply didn't wreak a lot of human damage. Not enough "bleed" to "lead." As one NBC Nightly News reporter told me two days after the storm: "Now it's just a power outage story.")

14. Texas: Coastal cities suffer some infrastructure damage, Mayors tell residents to stay away until ready for repopulation, no interference from federal officials.
Louisiana: New Orleans is destroyed, Mayor asks residents to return home as another hurricane approaches, has to be overruled by federal officials.

15. Louisiana: Over 400 killed by storm, flooding and crime. (Louisiana's Katrina-related death toll stood at 1,053 on Oct. 26.)
Texas: 24 killed in bus accident on highway during evacuation, no storm related deaths. (Not quite true, although Katrina's death toll is vastly higher. Five people died of carbon monoxide poisoning when they fired up their gas-powered generator in an apartment, and a handful of others died from traumas suffered during the evacuation and in the post-Rita cleanup.)

16. Texas: Jailed prisoners are relocated to other detention facilities outside the storm area. (Not true. Most prisons didn't evacuate, but merely moved prisoners to safer quarters, or in one case, not at all from their ground-floor cells.)
Louisiana: Jailed prisoners are set free to prey on city shops, residents, and homes.

17. Texas: Local and state officials work with FEMA and Red Cross in recovery operations. (Well, our local County Judge certainly had some terse words for FEMA in the week after the storm, threatening to send police to seize needed FEMA equipment that wasn't being deployed.)
Louisiana: Local and state officials obstruct FEMA and Red Cross from aiding in recovery operations.

18. Texas: Local and state officials demonstrate leadership in managing disaster areas. (One Texas city manager was fired when he failed to return quickly from his own evacuation.)
Louisiana: Local and state officials fail to demonstrate leadership, require federal government to manage disaster areas.

19. Texas: Fuel deliveries can't keep up with demand, some run out of gas on highway; need help from fuel tankers before storm arrives.
Louisiana: Motorists wait till storm hits and electrical power fails. Cars run out of gas at gas stations that can't pump gas. Gas in underground tanks mixes with flood waters.

20. Texas: Mayors move citizens out of danger.
Louisiana: Mayor moves himself and family to Dallas. (Didn't Mayor Nagin ride out the storm at New Orleans City Hall?)

21. Texas: Mayors continue public service announcements and updates on television with Governor's backing and support.
Louisiana: Mayor cusses, governor cries, senator threatens president with violence on television, none of them have a clue what went wrong or who's responsible.

22. Louisiana: Democratic Senator says FEMA was slow in responding to 911 calls from Louisiana citizens.
Texas: Republican Senator says "when you call 911, the phone doesn't ring in Washington, it rings here at the local responders." What if state and local elected officials were forced to depend on themselves and their own resources instead of calling for help from the federal government? Texas cities would be back up and running in a few days. Louisiana cities would still be under water next month.

Republicans call for action, Democrats call for help. What party will you be voting for in the next election?

(Editor's Note: Wouldn't it be fun to see a Democrat/Louisiana version of this list?)


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Amusing although as you say a little light on the causality/correlation. For those who did suffer hurricane damage and need help with your insurance claim try Paramount Disaster Recovery at http://www.hurricane-claims.com. They've been around a long time, not like some of the fly by night companies that are compounding the plight of those who have already suffered heartache.

Janet Seay said...

My favorite sign after the storm was in front of a house to wearn off possible looters.... "We're here. We're armed. And this is Texas."

That about says it all.

Anonymous said...

Nuke New Orleans!!!!!!!!!

Mac Diva said...

I realize you published this to critique it. But, I think you are helping the racists by giving them space.

BTW, I've seen the same 'everything is wonderful in Texas' claims made in regard to the evacuees remaining there instead of returning to Louisiana. The same kind of stereotype replacing facts, too. The two states have about the same pre-hurricanes unemployment rates, exactly same minimum wage and less than stellar education systems. Considering many people in New Orleans at least owned their homes there, and had longterm roots, objectively they would be better off returning if their homes can be rebuilt.

Anonymous said...

Having personally been through Rita, I can tell you most of that list is dead on. I live on the border of Louisiana and I can tell you the crime rates in the area skyrocketed. Especially Houston, from Katrina refugees.