Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 429, August 5, 2007

Frying Pans/Fires


This Hurricane Season
by Sean Gangol

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

I don't know if anyone else remembers the exact moment they lost all faith in the government, but I remember losing mine two years ago during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Not that my faith was all that strong to begin with. By then I had already considered myself a cynical Libertarian. I guess there was still a part of me that wanted to believe that the government would rise to the occasion, when needed.

When Katrina smashed into the coast, the government once again disappointed me. I know there are a many Bush haters who want to blame the president for everything that went wrong during Katrina. Even though I personally dislike George W. Bush, I can't blame him for all the short comings of the government. Don't get me wrong, I believe that he deserves his share of the blame. I remember the People who were starving on their roofs for a week before any federal relief came. Hell, it took a long time for the National Guard to come and restore order, since Bush had most of the troops in Iraq.

Yes, George deserves his share of the blame. However people seemed to forget that the local governments didn't handle the emergences any better. The mayor of New Orleans is the one I blame the most. The man acted surprised when his city ended up underwater. Gee, who would ever think that a city that was built below sea level would be prone to flooding? I remember going to New Orleans ten years ago and hearing the locals dread the day that the big one would hit. Apparently the locals have known for a long time that New Orleans was destined to be hit with a catastrophic hurricane. So why is it that a city official never thought to plan ahead for a disaster like Katrina?

Then there were members of the New Orleans' PD that showed compassion for their citizens by going door to door confiscating legally owned firearms. Of course they had to take the guns out of the hands of law-biding citizens; so that they could protect the officers that participated in the looting.

I had my own experiences with Hurricane Rita, when we thought it was going to hit Galveston. I live in Houston, which is more inland, but it would still suffer the effects of a Category Five hurricane. Tim Heller, our local weatherman made it sound like Hurricane Rita was coming straight for us as a category Five. What Heller failed to tell us was that hurricane was still far off and the trajectory could change at any time. He also forgot to mention that there were patches of cold water that would slow it down before it hit the coast. Unfortunately, my family and I were among those who were scared out of their houses because of Tim Heller's sensational forecast.

It was about midnight, when we boarded up the house, packed what we could and headed to San Antonio. Usually trips to San Antonio take three to four hours, but due to the rest of the people trying to leave town, it took nearly twelve hours. During that time I didn't see one member of the Houston PD directing traffic. I remembered all the times I saw Houston's finest sitting in their cars at their favorite speed traps so they could raise their precious revenue.

After five hours of sitting in traffic we made it outside the city. Our next challenge was finding bathrooms. In one town, we tried to go in and use the bathrooms at a Whataburger, only to be told that they would only serve us at the drive thru. How compassionate.

When we got back on the road, we saw more acts of compassion, this time by local police, whom decided to block off the entrances to their precious towns. There were some patrol cars that blocked off rest stops.

Eventually we made it to San Antonio, where we stayed with relatives for two days. We soon found out that not only did the hurricane slow down to a Category Three, but it missed Galveston completely. The people, who decided to stay behind, experienced thunderstorms and blackouts. Basically, our twelve hour road trip to San Antonio was for nothing.

I did learn something from this experience. I used to belittle those who stayed behind, when they knew a hurricane was coming. Now I understand why these people choose to stay in their homes. This experience also reaffirmed my belief that the government can always make a bad situation into something worse. Supposedly our local government came up with a plan to make sure that the evacuations go smoother, if another hurricane is expected to hit. Maybe it is my lack of faith in government that is making me skeptical, but I just assume stay home next time. I think incompetent officials are more dangerous, then anything nature can nature can throw at us.


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