This is tragic and serves as a reminder that the human costs of mass evacuations are not always less than those of hurricanes. Public officials should not treat mandatory evacuation as the safe option when hurricanes approach. Not that officials aren’t usually conscientious. However, post Katrina, “must evacuate” is in danger of becoming the politically safe buzz-meme WRT hurricanes, and it is unwise to assume that evacuation is always the safe option. There are often no safe options.
I find more fault with the press in this regard than I do with politicians. The media have become hysterical in their treatment of hurricane risks. Drudge has been particularly bad.
(A previous post on related topics is here.)
UPDATE: Via Instapundit comes this thoughtful post about evacuations and media hysteria. The author says that for many people in Houston there is no need to evacuate, and that the media, by making no distinction between risky low-lying areas and everywhere else, are panicking people, exacerbating road congestion and making the area-wide situation much worse than it has to be. That’s right. Waves and flooding are the big killers in hurricanes. While people who are near the ocean and in low-lying areas should consider leaving, for people who are already inland and on high ground it may be reasonably safe to weather the storm at home or in a robust larger building.