The Need to Rethink Evacuation Orders and Plans after Ike

This just in–water is available in Liverpool, 30 miles from Galveston!

Here is my problem. The authorities issue a “mandatory evacuation order” but then after the storm rush in to rescue all who ignored the order in the first place. I know this is America, the land of the free, but it appears to me it is also the land of the stupid.

I do not know how much clearer the statements from the National Weather Service could be when warning of “certain death” if people staying in single story houses etc. Perhaps I am not understanding something here, but if an order is issued saying everyone MUST evacuate and if they do not, they are on their own during the storm; why is the order suddenly forgotten the minute the storm is over?

People do the same thing in the winter when they ski into remote areas with avalanche warnings in place. Sure enough there is an avalanche and then thousands of dollars of taxpayers money is spent to go try and rescue people who should have never been there to begin with. To me, this is somewhat like spending ten thousand dollars to provide a convicted criminal top notch medical care and then execute him a week later.

I am all for compassion, as is evidenced in my posts; but there is a time when stupidity trumps even compassion. God gave us a mind and the ability to think logical and rational thoughts. Where in the realm of either logic or rational thinking does ignoring orders to leave or face certain death fit in? There is a huge difference between voluntary evacuation or mandatory evacuation and mandatory evacuation or face certain death.

To me, I do not see where it is the responsibility of the government to race in, many times risking life and machinery to do search and rescue missions for those who arrogantly defied orders to leave. Why can’t they wait until it is safe to venture into the disaster area? I know this sounds hard and cruel, but seeing pictures last evening of people in waist high water being helped by firemen really got to me. I am thankful it turned out fine, but WHAT IF it hadn’t? What if they all would have been swept away in a surge and perished?

The whole subject of individual freedom vs. governmental responsibility is too huge to tackle in a blog post. I do know that a monster problem has developed out of all this. Dire warnings were issued that people faced “certain death” if they stayed. Thousands stayed and lived to tell about it. This presents a huge problem next time. The trump card has been played and Ike trumped it. No longer can the National Weather Service use the line “certain death” without it being met with skepticism, doubts and outright ridicule.

When the next “Ike” is heading toward not only Galveston, but New Orleans or Mobile or Miami… and the Official warning comes out saying leave or faces certain death, everyone is going to say, “remember Ike” and ignore the warnings. I am not faulting the NWS one bit, I am only stating a fact. We now have with hurricanes, the identical problem we already had with tornadoes and floods. The credibility of the language is shot.

Far too many times warnings are issued based strictly on Doppler images only and not on actual sightings of tornadoes. Then the local media outlets pick up the warnings and turn them into prime time drama. Meanwhile, there never was a tornado for it was only “possible” one could form. Screaming at the viewers to race to the basement, which some television weather people do, only produces a collective yawn among those watching.

My parents lived in Kansas most of their lives. They used to run to the basement every time there was a tornado warning. As they got older and less mobile, they ceased trying to get to the basement except one time when a tornado did hit about 5 blocks away. After my dad passed away, my mom moved to a retirement center and lived there five years through innumerable tornado warnings. There was no basement in her apartment.

I honestly think the days of trying to scare people into action are waning. People are just to callused and indifferent to respond. When you stop and think about how many people flat out ignored a warning which supposedly carried the death penalty for disobedience and lived to flaunt their arrogance; the odds of getting anyone to respond the next time is nill.

I advocate simply laying out the facts and to the best of our ability stating the POTENTIAL consequences. Let people decide what they want to do. Those who want to leave—LET THEM LEAVE—do not tell them they must stay and endure a possible category 4 hurricane. Offer all available assistance to those willing to evacuate before, during and after the storm.

Those who decide to ignore the warnings must sign a release. They release all rights to expect someone to come rescue them during the storm and until it is safe to do so after the storm. Shut the 9-1-1 system down during the storm to remove the temptation to venture out to “save someone”. When the storm is over, set up a pre-arranged number for those who stayed to call and state their condition and systematically go rescue them.

There is more to life than guarding your property. Those willing to sit on their porch through a hurricane with a shotgun on their lap to ward off looters, have to accept the responsibility of their decisions.

Houston, Harris County, Galveston, Port Arthur and many other places were flat out LUCKY with Ike. As has been stated over and over again; if Ike had stayed over water 12 to 18 more hours, at the rate it was strengthening—it would have come ashore a category 4 storm and those defying the orders to leave WOULD NOT be alive to tell about it. Those who are bragging about it being “not so bad” better think twice before tempting fate again. Very few people get a second chance to defy death in this life.


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