Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Those Pesky New Orleans Buses

The blogosphere has been alive with postings about the buses of New Orleans that were not used to evacuate people before Katrina hit and which were flooded, and therefore unavailable, after the levees broke. Here is the latest from Instapundit. Or see this from Junkyard.

In all the outrage, I have read only one person who raises the obvious question: Where would the buses have taken all the evacuees?

Much of the suffering in New Orleans was avoidable. Instapundit notes that local authorities were slow with the evacuation order, and did not utilize resources at hand to evacuate those who lacked transportation.

Perhaps they were concerned that once they had evacuees on buses they had no plan for where to take them. [emphasis added]

Keep in mind that this mass evacuation would have to have occurred ex ante. Before the hurricane. Before the flood.

Suppose the Mayor and Gubnor had loaded up 300 buses with 40 people each [12,000 evacuees per trip of the fleet]. Where would the buses have taken the people? Is there a destination or set of destinations specified in the official disaster planning?

I can just imagine the outrage in Baton Rouge or Little Rock or Jackson or Houston:
What? You want to send how many low-income folks who don't have cars or friends to stay with or money to our city? Get serious there's nowhere here for us to put them.
And imagine the second-guessing that would have taken place if they had not needed to evacuate (e.g. if the levees had held).

In other words, an integral part of disaster planning must also include multiple destinations for the evacuees.
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