Gustov, Hanna and Ike; Update–Even Less to Like

As so often happens with hurricanes, rarely does everything go according to plan. Gustov intensified faster than anyone believed yesterday and weakened more than anyone believed over Cuba last night. Also, the projected track is now ever so slightly to the east of where it was yesterday. I congratulate the authorities for making the decision to evacuate New Orleans and much of southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi.

Gustov is moving much faster than originally thought and this is why those who either have to make the call to evacuate or actually evacuate must walk a very thin line of timing. Too little time and thousands of people could be caught in the open in vehicles. Too much time and the storm could change course enough to make the evacuation unnecessary. We can only hope there is enough time to move the millions of people in Gustov’s path to the safety upstate before the storm hits.

The people of this country should be prepared for images come Tuesday morning that bring back very bad memories of three years ago. The potential is there for New Orleans to see greater flooding than with Katrina. Hopefully we will not have to see the images of stranded people at the Superdome since it will not be open. I am sure there will still be people on roofs who stubbornly refused to leave and then demand to be rescued from their stupidity.

Hanna now appears to be a storm which will ride up the east coast of Florida with a very good chance it will either hit South Carolina or North Carolina as a major hurricane. With so much attention focused on Gustov, it will be very difficult to divert resources and attention to the East Coast. Having been involved, I do know the Emergency Management system is top of the line in both South and North Carolina.

There is a very good possibility that a rare double hit might be coming for the Carolinas. Soon to be named hurricane Ike looks to be on track to follow on the heels of Hanna and quite possibly strike the same areas. Although very rare, this has happened as recently as 2004 in Florida.

To make matters worse, there is a chance there could be two more named storms come to life in the Atlantic this week. Despite the promise of the tropical onslaught slowing down later in September, what lies ahead the next two to three weeks could end up straining the American disaster relief setup to the max. There are only so many trained volunteers, so many feeding stations, so many tents and cots, so many bulldozers and so many chain saws. Worst of all, there is only so much money to help in the relief effort.

As I write this, warehouses well north of the coast in Louisiana and Mississippi are being filled with supplies to help with the disaster relief and recovery. Unlike Katrina when everything had to come in after the storm, there are now huge warehouses filled or being filled with necessary items to help with the initial clean up operations. Unfortunately, it will take many warehouses filled many times to help with the recovery effort.

As much of America ignores what is happening on its coasts because it does not affect them; it puts immense pressure on the rest of America to step up and provide manpower help and financial contributions. Yes, America did a great job after Katrina but what if we are facing three or four Katrina’s within a few weeks? Will America be willing to divert some of its money and attention away from politics long enough to help those devastated by any upcoming storms? I pray the answer is YES.

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