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View Full Version : White House thinks Houston evacuation went well!!!


Dark Knight
09-26-2005, 01:11 AM
(AP) White House press secretary Scott McClellan on Saturday rejected the notion that there were problems with Houston's evacuation and said the president was told it had gone well. He also stressed that states are responsible for evacuations, although the federal government has a role to assist local officials.

"This was an unprecedented number of people who were being evacuated," McClellan said Sunday. "And they got a large number of people out of there.

Mabel
09-26-2005, 09:29 AM
Tell that to the people who spent hours and hours sitting on the freeway burning up all their gasoline.

jannuncutt
09-26-2005, 09:54 AM
(AP) White House press secretary Scott McClellan on Saturday rejected the notion that there were problems with Houston's evacuation and said the president was told it had gone well. He also stressed that states are responsible for evacuations, although the federal government has a role to assist local officials.

"This was an unprecedented number of people who were being evacuated," McClellan said Sunday. "And they got a large number of people out of there.
I guess that we really didn't see what we saw, huh?

Jules
09-26-2005, 10:04 AM
The problem with the evacuation was that those that were told to voluntarily evacuate did so before those that were under the manditory evacuation were able to get out. Had it been staggered a bit more, it would have been so bad. But that was precisely the reason we stayed put. I had no desire to sit in that traffic.

I will say that Houston, a city of over 4 million, and surrounding areas with another probably 2 million, is a lot to evacuate. IMO there will always be problems getting that many people out of one place smoothly.

Jeana (DP)
09-26-2005, 10:05 AM
How would ya'll have handled it? Get that many people out of one town in a couple of days' time without anyone sitting on the highway. I'm ready to be dazzled . . .

Jules
09-26-2005, 10:26 AM
I also think they had many more leave than they had planned on - especially after witnessing Katrina just weeks before.

Marthatex
09-26-2005, 10:28 AM
Well, for starters all the lanes need to be made one-way early on; with one lane left open for incoming tankers, food deliveries, etc.

Families can take only one car out.

Gas tankers need nozzles that can fit into cars.

And be sure to take your porta-potty with you.
(Maybe Bush has never had to feel "uncomfortable", stuck in traffic?)

kato
09-26-2005, 10:33 AM
I think they did a damn good job considering the millions of people they were dealing with. Also, there were panicing people leaving that didn't really need to leave that just added to the congestion.

Jeana (DP)
09-26-2005, 10:34 AM
I think they did a damn good job considering the millions of people they were dealing with. Also, there were panicing people leaving that didn't really need to leave that just added to the congestion.


Yup, me too.

Marthatex
09-26-2005, 11:24 AM
Those who experienced it thought it was horrendous. They did a good job of evacuating Galveston and the coastal areas, but Houston was a problem. Many could not get gasoline to get out.

If it had been a terrorist attack or other disaster with little warning, people could not have gotten out. There were not real instructions on who should leave in Houston, and who could stay.

Kay Bailey Hutchison, R- Texas: "I think we need to fine-tune the planning so that contra-lanes are open earlier so that all the outgoing traffic can go on both sides of a freeway earlier than was done for Rita.."

An article about the evacuation: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/front/3366164

JBean
09-26-2005, 11:44 AM
I think they did a damn good job considering the millions of people they were dealing with. Also, there were panicing people leaving that didn't really need to leave that just added to the congestion.I agree with you. I think another thing that added to the congestion was the fact that many of these people evacuated with 2,3 or more vehicles per family.

tybee204
09-26-2005, 11:54 AM
Even tho the evac prooved to me gridlock and a massive PITA the fact that loss of life from the Hurricane was at a minimum made the evac successful IMO

Marthatex
09-26-2005, 12:00 PM
If the hurricane had not veered to the right as it did, I imagine things would have been a bit different in Houston. As it was, it didn't get much weather.

Did Lake Charles evacuate; I know it had alot of flooding. It is much smaller though.

Jeana (DP)
09-26-2005, 12:29 PM
Those who experienced it thought it was horrendous. They did a good job of evacuating Galveston and the coastal areas, but Houston was a problem. Many could not get gasoline to get out.

If it had been a terrorist attack or other disaster with little warning, people could not have gotten out. There were not real instructions on who should leave in Houston, and who could stay.

Kay Bailey Hutchison, R- Texas: "I think we need to fine-tune the planning so that contra-lanes are open earlier so that all the outgoing traffic can go on both sides of a freeway earlier than was done for Rita.."

An article about the evacuation: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/front/3366164

Well the simple fact of the matter is when you move that many people out of an area that quickly, there are going to be delays and shortages and while I'm sure that it wasn't a pleasant experience, compared to the absolutely horrendous conditions in Louisiana after Katrina, things were pretty smooth.

Jules
09-26-2005, 12:35 PM
Well the simple fact of the matter is when you move that many people out of an area that quickly, there are going to be delays and shortages and while I'm sure that it wasn't a pleasant experience, compared to the absolutely horrendous conditions in Louisiana after Katrina, things were pretty smooth.

:clap: :clap: :clap:

You got it!

There is always room for improvement, in anything, but I think the problems encountered were to be expected.

kato
09-26-2005, 12:38 PM
:clap: :clap: :clap:

You got it!

There is always room for improvement, in anything, but I think the problems encountered were to be expected.

Ditto to the above 2 posts.

Gabby
09-26-2005, 12:46 PM
I also think they had many more leave than they had planned on - especially after witnessing Katrina just weeks before.


Exactly

BarnGoddess
09-26-2005, 12:53 PM
Just sitting here reading the posts, it seems that Texans here on WS who were involved are the least critical of the evacuation. I would say that many things can be learned from such a huge evacuation and improvements can be made to other evacuation plans. Rather than criticize negatively, implement suggestions for the next mass evacuation, wherever it may occur.

I know that many who evacuated in Florida for many storms up to Andrew, stoically endured traffic and finding a place to stay. They took responsibility for getting themselves out. We were told for years and years to prepare for every hurricane season. Batteries, hurricane lanterns, canned goods, sterno stoves and plenty of sterno for cooking, storing water, keeping clutter to a minimum, and TOPPING OFF YOUR GAS TANK! Fortunately, we never had to evacuate where we lived, but did endure a week or two without power. I had many a meal cooked on a little sterno stove.

Folks, perfection cannot be achieved. Even the best plans have to take into account the human factor. Some people will just NOT comply whether they don't leave or just not follow the orderly plan laid out for a smooth evacuation. That's human nature and unfortunately we can't change it.

kato
09-26-2005, 01:02 PM
Just sitting here reading the posts, it seems that Texans here on WS who were involved are the least critical of the evacuation. I would say that many things can be learned from such a huge evacuation and improvements can be made to other evacuation plans. Rather than criticize negatively, implement suggestions for the next mass evacuation, wherever it may occur.

I know that many who evacuated in Florida for many storms up to Andrew, stoically endured traffic and finding a place to stay. They took responsibility for getting themselves out. We were told for years and years to prepare for every hurricane season. Batteries, hurricane lanterns, canned goods, sterno stoves and plenty of sterno for cooking, storing water, keeping clutter to a minimum, and TOPPING OFF YOUR GAS TANK! Fortunately, we never had to evacuate where we lived, but did endure a week or two without power. I had many a meal cooked on a little sterno stove.

Folks, perfection cannot be achieved. Even the best plans have to take into account the human factor. Some people will just NOT comply whether they don't leave or just not follow the orderly plan laid out for a smooth evacuation. That's human nature and unfortunately we can't change it.

Yeah, like right now they are telling people to not come back til it's time for your quadrant. People aren't gonna listen they're gonna hit the road cuz they wanna get back home. Well, I didn't evacuate and all is/was well on my side of town.

Sally
09-26-2005, 01:05 PM
Well, for starters all the lanes need to be made one-way early on; with one lane left open for incoming tankers, food deliveries, etc.

Families can take only one car out.

Gas tankers need nozzles that can fit into cars.

And be sure to take your porta-potty with you.
(Maybe Bush has never had to feel "uncomfortable", stuck in traffic?)
Oh my God! He banned porta potties?

Morag
09-26-2005, 01:37 PM
Do they not have a plan for the evacuation of the 4th largest city in America in the event of an attack by terrorists? Might part of that plan involve having fuel and water trucks available for the fleeing populace --or at least under orders to show up when they are needed? (The firefighters and police who responded on 9/11 knew to show up without being personally called by the Mayor.) Very little differentiation need be made between natural disasters and terror events when the issue is removing millions of citizens from danger.

Bring back FEMA as it was. "Emergency Management" is not just a meaningless phrase. It makes no sense to expect every mayor/governor/local official to develop a completely separate plan; do you really expect your village elders to rescue you off your roof or to air-drop food parcels to you when disaster strikes? Emergency management and disaster relief, like military action, are services which must be co-ordinated from the top down.

And these services do not appear to be included in the federal response, other than on an ad hoc basis. Why wasn't the Homeland Security chief telling Governor Perry to get that contra flow going earlier, or FEMA newguy getting water, fuel, and medical trucks on the road to service the freeway population ( a city of two million for around 15-20 hours)?

We have the right to expect that our government (at all levels) be prepared to deal with human misery on a large scale--isn't that what Security means in Homeland Security?

The party hacks and well-meaning bureaucrats who have been running the Homeland Security Department have not done their job. Had the storm not slowed and veered, the cars on those highways could have been out of gas and under water. What is the plan to evacuate Houston and other cities in the event of a terror attack or other event which occurs totally without warning?

BarnGoddess
09-26-2005, 02:04 PM
Morag, you bring up a lot of interesting items, especially firefighters and police reporting automatically, but the fact is, the evacuations and first responses are still the responsibility of the local and state governments until the federal government is asked to come in. It's the law. The feds can't just show up and take over. They may suggest and offer help, but until laws are changed, individual states still have jurisdiction and responsibility for their citizens. The federal agencies are not blameless for their poor planning and response when they were called in, that I will agree with you.

Our local fire chief has a son who now lives in Waco, TX. He was called by his former fire chief in Lake Charles and left to go there on Wednesday. He's still there helping out. Obviously, the Lake Charles emergency management teams took their local response seriously, putting outside personnel in place before the storm hit. Also, the 9-11 response was done locally in New York, by New Yorkers. The mayor acted immediately without having to call Washington to find out what to do.

Marthatex
09-26-2005, 02:08 PM
Most people I talk to around here, including some who came up from Houston agree that the contra lanes should have been changed alot sooner, at the very least.

I'm glad I didn't have to go through what Houston people did, but I went out and got prepared for a power outage for several days and helped my children do so. It took about 2 days; and next time I hope we'll be more prepared for something ahead of time.

As I pointed out, the hurricane veered to the right, or things would have been much worse in Houston, especially for those who didn't get out.

Details
09-26-2005, 04:51 PM
I'd say it did go well.

Not perfectly, not that there isn't room for improvement, but a huge number of people were moved in a short amount of time, even with the people not fully cooperating with the evacuation plan (waiting until later when they needed to be moving earlier). It's a huge difficult, near impossible task. Given that, how it turned out is pretty darn good.

GonzoReiter
09-26-2005, 05:05 PM
Hurricane planners have a little ditty that goes, "run from the water, hide from the wind."

It means evacuate if you are in a coastal surge area, but hunker down if you are in an area that will get hurricane-force winds and rain only.

The biggest problem in Houston's painful evacuation last week was that perhaps a million people, almost half of those who left, ran from the wind. To make matters worse, the regional evacuation plan was missing a key element pre-planned contraflow lanes that are a part of virtually every other hurricane-prone city's evacuation strategy.

From Corpus Christi to Norfolk, Va., most vulnerable cities have pre-set plans to run their highways in one direction only, headed out of town, said Brian Wolshon, a civil engineer at Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center.

Wolshon gave a presentation on the subject at Houston's TranStar traffic management center two years ago, but found that officials were reluctant because Houston's freeway grid is much more complicated than other coastal cities.

"I don't think they really took it seriously," he said.

The evacuation shows more need to stay put, and all lanes should be outbound (http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/rssstory.mpl/chronicle/3369453)

Marthatex
09-26-2005, 05:09 PM
Constructive criticism is good, I believe, because the "fire drill" exposed the cracks in the plan, which hopefully be corrected if there is another time this has to be done.

As Senator Joseph Lieberman said: "We need to be better prepared. the nightmare that we all have is that, God forbid, there's a terrorist attack of some kind on a major American city that requires evacuation without warning".

Los Angeles officials concede that they don't have proper plans for a mass evacuation or shelter for those left homeless by an earthquake or terrorist attack.

Milwaukee leaders realized they have misplaced their evacuation plan, devised during the Cold War.

Where have our Homeland Security dollars gone? Well much of it was or will be paid to State and local governments to establish, well, Homeland Security. I guess it's up to us to find out and hold our local governments accountable.

I think the amounts allotted have been relatively small because of what we have to pay for the Iraq war. The school for public policy here should be able to tell me where the dollars have gone, and I plan to find out.

KT Can
09-26-2005, 05:48 PM
:clap: :clap: :clap:

You got it!

There is always room for improvement, in anything, but I think the problems encountered were to be expected.
Ditto the responses by Jules, Jeana and Kato.....

Marthatex
09-26-2005, 11:55 PM
Well I wish I knew what everybody is smokin' today.

The Houston mayor said that part of the Texas evacuation plan was to provide gas tanks or tankers along the roads so people wouldn't run out of gas. He said for one reason or another they weren't sure of this wasn't carried out.

Chevron-Texaco shut down on Thursday; they said they had not ever received a message to provide gasoline. This was before the evacuation really began. The ones who were smart were the ones who stayed home; but that might not be an option next time. It needs to be done better in the case of a terrorist attack or a direct hit hurricane.