Mandatory Evacuation

I have been thinking about the relation of science and law, both understood by our framers to be important, sharing similar rules, the facts and their reasonable interpretation. The language is a little different, but both are a common sense approach to the truth.

It was brought home to me listening to WWL radio in New Orleans, which comes in good here, where the SPUD show was devoted entirely to the Texas Mandatory Evacuation Law. Now here are recent survivors of Katrina wondering how Texans are such wimps (my word, not theirs) about their rights. Discussion ranged from constitutional right to practical considerations, and of the half of the program I heard, no one thought the law proper. The Corpus Christ Caller-Times said that while no one was going to get arrested, it gave local mayors and judges that right. Sorry, but I do not have the confidence in government to know better than I do about evacuation. It is not an easy decision, but in my experience, and borne out in Katrina, both government and non-government individuals and groups act both competently and incompetenly near the time of a storm. Adrenalin flows, and we all know how that goes.

Furthermore, a presumably scientifically designed map of surge zones, puts the area where I live in zone A1, the most dangerous, a zone shared with San Jose Island and other slender pieces elsewhere. We live ten miles from the Gulf of Mexico in Lamar in a location and house designed to be as hurricane proof as we could afford. We experienced Claudette when local government and others encouraged evacuation, some going to Beevillle and Victoria where the hurricane did more damage than in Aransas County, after strengthening while hitting the coast at Matagorda Bay.

The decision to evacuate is difficult, some areas obvious, many more debatable. There is considerable risk in evacuation, both economically and otherwise. Claudette was interesting because I thought the safest place to avoid inshore hurricane damage would be to go to west Texas. Guess which way Claudette went. Katrina survivors repeatedly brought up the problem of access if you evacuate. Some storm damage could be prevented with rapid action.

Our local officials have not had the experience of a severe storm, Claudette a category 1, maybe turning a low 2. Celia, a narrow severe storm in 1970, nicked the county to the south. Many say, and I agree, when you go through a serious storm you say, never again, I will evacuate. But that may be more an emotional than rational decision. I am thinking of going to Michigan.

If we do the science wrong, the law will follow, if both lack common sense.

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