Even before Gustov officially makes landfall it is obvious the storm is NOT going to be Katrina number two. It could have been and if not for the cooler water, wind shear and dry air making its way into the system it could have been a very bad hurricane. As it turns out, Gustov will greatly impact some, especially in southern Louisiana, but will not produce the catastrophic flooding once feared.
So, does this make all the various government agencies and officials who prompted two million people to evacuate wrong? I believe only a fool would think so. Gustov provided everyone from the mayor of New Orleans to FEMA the opportunity to show the nation how much has improved in the realm of emergency management since the dark days of Katrina.
The powers that be really had no choice, politically or humanitarian wise, but to order the evacuation of New Orleans and surrounding areas. Just two days ago as Gustov wiped western Cuba off the map and appeared headed for the warm water loop north of Cuba, all models were forecasting a rapid intensification to a category 4 or even 5 storm. In light of the available information, there was no other course of action which could be taken than to order total evacuation of a city that sits many feet below sea level.
Whether through prayers or the intricate variety of factors which make or break a hurricane; Gustov never ramped up and in fact lost much of his strength after crossing Cuba. Many experts think this was because of cooler waters left over in the Gulf after Fay. Others think it was because of a combination of factors. I will let these experts figure out the reasons why later, but for now we should all be thankful that we are not going to be dealing with Katrina two later today and in the days/weeks/months/years to come.
As good as the news may end up being regarding Gustov, the news regarding Hanna is not so good. While everyone has been glued to the developing saga in the Gulf, Hanna has been enduring everything that would normally kill a tropical storm as she sits near the Bahamas. Hanna will shortly make her move north and once tapped into the Gulf Stream, watch out.
Current forecast tracks take Hanna into Georgia or South Carolina as a category 1 storm. Independent forecasters are quite sure Hanna will become every bit as strong as Gustov is and end up in the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina or little further north. With a potential landfall of Friday, this gives all parties a few days to prepare, and the wise people would do just that.
What appears to be taking shape is a hit late in the week from Hanna and then a week later from what should become Ike. Both storms are taking aim at the Carolinas. There might be one more storm in this burst of activity, but that is debatable. The experts are saying we could see a lull for three weeks before a final burst in tropical activity in October. I am quite sure that for many, that is the last thing they will want to think about.
In conclusion, I pray the response to an incoming storm that has been manifested with Gustov will be just as strong for Hanna and any storms after her. I pray that the massive array of support in place for Gustov was not strictly political, but shows the commitment by FEMA and other governmental agencies to protect our country from natural enemies just as they do from human ones. When you think about it; isn’t an enemy an enemy, regardless of how it looks or the weapons it possesses?
If all the resources of the United States military are available to help in a disaster, there is no reason to believe there will ever be a fiasco such as Katrina again. But, if such resources are withheld or spread too thin, then the burden falls again on the private sector to prepare people and help them as first responders. In all but the worst disasters the military should not be involved, but if there is a chance we could see anything like Katrina, then I see no harm in enlisting the very best resources available to help, protect and serve the citizens of this country.