Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Effects of the Law of Unintended Consequences

As the evacuees settle in to their new communities, we start to see the law of unintended consequences in action.

Item: El Jefe gets an email from a friend in Baton Rouge who says that the city has doubled in size. Now she finds long lines everywhere: the gas station, the grocery store, the drugstore, etc.
Traffic is hopelessly snarled by the addition of all these cars. Hmmm... El Jefe reported that this morning he had the kind of traffic on his morning commute that is usually only caused by severe weather or a major wreck--without either of those things happening. Is the traffic jam showing up here, too?

Item: A friend's son attends a local Catholic high school. They accepted 300 students from a related school in New Orleans. Houston city officials said the campus didn't have enough room for portable buildings. So the school is now running on shifts. The NO students and faculty have the campus Sunday through Thursday from 3 to 8 pm. The Houston students and faculty have the campus Monday through Friday from 7 to 3.

Item: The State of Texas is waiving its requirements for teachers so that Louisiana teachers in Texas can be hired to teach in the public schools. We need them to handle the influx of students.

Item: At the dentist's office today, the hygenist told me a story about a friend's daughter who was beginning her freshman year at Loyola University in NO last week when she evacuated back home with 4 friends in tow. Now each of these students have been placed in other Catholic-related universities around the country--but no two are in the same place. Her friend's daughter is at Loyola in Chicago. In order to preserve her NO Loyola scholarship she had to accept what was offered--same with all her friends. When she worried about the loss of her new college wardrobe, her parents pointed out it wouldn't have been useful in Chicago anyway.

Item: Our church's school is willing to enroll an elementary student from NO, but he doesn't have his ADD medication because it got lost in the confusion of getting out. Without the meds, he can't be properly tested and screened so the school knows how to work with him. The head of school referred him to appropriate medical people who will get him his prescription refilled so he can get tested and start school.

And here's an observation: when the governor of Louisiana called the governor of Texas and asked the state to accept 25,000 evacuees (it's now well over 200,000), he said yes and Houston city and county officials handled the needs of these people pretty well. Did anyone see the State of Texas or the City of Houston or Harris County officials call for the federal government to come down here and take care of the problem? No, you didn't.

The contingency plans developed in case of a catastrophic hurricane hitting the Houston/Galveston area were taken off the shelf and implemented on behalf of our Louisiana neighbors. Is everything being done perfectly? Of course not--humans aren't perfect (see Genesis for explanation). But we're trying to deal with the unintended consequences flexibly and with our focus on what is important.


Jane Ellen+ said...

Too bad the current federal administration doesn't appear to have taken some of those Texas coping skills to Washington...

Quotidian Grace said...

What's really too bad is that the NO city and Louisiana state officials didn't implement the evacuation plan that was developed for their area in a timely fashion.

jean said...

Kudos to Texas to having strong leadership.

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

QG...thank you. I am so tired of the whining and the moaning. I am tired of people pointing fingers and even blaming everything on the President. I have wanted to blog about it but think that I would not be near as lady like as you in my words. ~applaudes~ Thank you.

SpookyRach said...

Great post! Houston has done us all proud. I agree with what you have to say about local officials. I am no fan of the current administration, but I am embarrassed by my party's rush to find ways to blame Bush for this.