What kind of a stunted intellect tells people not to evacuate in the face of the landfall of a hurricane? Well, one person saddled with that decision is Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston, Texas...the same Houston, Texas, that is now under water.
After Texas Governor Greg Abbott and President Trump urged residents in Southeastern Texas to evacuate coastal areas in deference to locations that would not be affected by Hurricane Harvey, Turner abated that plea by telling his residents to "stay put."
In a tweet, Turner told residents, "Quite frankly, leaving your homes, getting on the streets, you’ll be putting yourself in more danger and not making yourself safer...And so, we’re just asking people to hunker down.”
Today, volunteers and professional First Responders from as far away as Tampa, Florida, have been dispatched to rescue tens of thousands in the Houston Area who have been stranded in their homes amid record flooding. Obviously, Turner was about as wrong as one can be in not issuing an evacuation order.
The question now must be why? Why was Turner so incredibly wrong? Why would he make such a foolish declaration? One theory points to gross incompetence coupled with a bit of political opportunism.
Let's examine history.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's order not to use fleets of buses to evacuate residents before Katrina - a decision that resulted in over a thousand deaths - resulted in the usual suspects in the mainstream media blaming President Bush, not Nagin, for the lack of disaster preparation and the complete lack of execution of the established disaster plan for the city.
Every city, every town and every village has a disaster plan. New Orleans, always wary of the inevitability of a direct hit from a hurricane, certainly had one. But no one, including Nagin - a political creature, thought the devastation would be so excessive. No, Nagin and minions were banking on a minor event so as to play politics. It backfired, intensely.
Fast forward to Houston, Hurricane Harvey and Turner. After the reality of Katrina, why would any sitting politician, local, state or national, risk it all to countermand a plea to evacuate from a governor and president? What could possibly make sense of such a gamble? Hhhmm...Why not create a similar political moment here; an opportunity to pile on an already unpopular president, especially when the hurricane was only a Category 1?
But Harvey suddenly ramped up to a Category 4 hurricane and now tens of thousands are in harm's way, all because either: a) a politician pretended to know more than emergency management professionals, or b) a politician wanted to make a name for himself with his party higher-ups.
Either way, his actions (or inactions) now see his residents being rescued from rooftops. We can only pray they don't find scores of dead in attics across the Houston Area.
All in all, pretty incompetent leadership when safety is job one.