The national media can be fickle. Hurricane Ike devastated Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula. Those communities and people in them are suffering as much as those in Louisiana and Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina. Yet, I have seen little in the national media regarding this story.
The Houston Press ran an excellent article, Hurricane Ike’s Wake, detailing the effects of Hurricane Ike. It also questioned why there is so little national media attention to the devastation. Even the charitable contributions to Hurricane Ike relief efforts has been minuscule compared with Hurricane Ike.
Among friends, the lack of national attention concerning the Hurricane Ike recovery has been a topic of conversation. The explanations we have include:
- The election campaign and story of Obama and Palin were overwhelming.
- The collapse of the national economy had others thinking about their backyards rather than Hurricane Ike.
- Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula are not Houston and not the size of New Orleans. Devastation to smaller communities gets overlooked.
- Images of rescue did not feed the media’s desire for sensationalism.
There was one comment of note to the Houston Press article—
"Now you tell us what happened, but the important thing is to tell us what we can do about it."
Recovery lessons can be learned from Hurricanes Ike and Katrina so the impact of the devastation minimized. Federal, state and local governments with coastal areas should have emergency regulations in place and ready to be enacted expecting these types of rare occurrences. Building permitting has to be expedited. New National Flood Building Regulations have to be made much quicker so that those in the most severely devastated areas are not waiting months for permission to rebuild. FEMA has to be more practical regarding federal infrastructure regulations so that local officials can replace infrastructure with an eye to practical and much quicker repair. There needs to be exemptions from the National Flood Regulations which recognize historic areas, such as parts of Galveston, so we do not destroy the unique characteristics of communities with historical significance.
While, governments were much better prepared for Hurricane Ike than Hurricane Katrina, we can still do a better job. I am afraid that revised lessons are not going to be learned because the national attention is elsewhere. It is pretty certain that this song will remain the same the next time we arrive in a catastrophically damaged community.