Hurricane Rita slapped at Key West on Tuesday before strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico, where it appeared to be veering away from New Orleans, but still forced the evacuation of 7,000 of Louisiana's Katrina evacuees from Texas.
I feel really bad for these folks...uprooted by one disaster, now fleeing from another potential one only a few weeks later.
It looks like the federal government is applying the policy of preemption to this potential coast-wrecker. Preemption seems a much better domestic disaster-handling strategy than a foreign policy philosophy.
President Bush signed an emergency declaration for Florida, which allowed federal relief help to be prepositioned. He also said that he had spoken with Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) about storm preparations.
"All up and down this coastline, people are now preparing for what is anticipated to be yet another significant storm," Bush said.
Perry activated 5,000 members of the Texas National Guard. Military leaders prepared to rush the USS Iwo Jima, which has served as a floating command post in New Orleans, and several other naval vessels out to sea to better ride out the storm. Emergency workers began plans to open shelters in central Texas, and the mayor of Galveston issued a voluntary evacuation order, which could be followed by a mandatory order on Wednesday.
Personally, I hope all the preparations are for nothing and the storm never hits...but I am glad to see that the thinking is proactive this time instead of reactive. Maybe we've learned something...