Rita's Destruction Falls Short of Fears
"As bad as it could have been, we came out of this in pretty good shape," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said after taking a helicopter tour Sunday.
Even with nearly 1 million in the region without electricity, some coastal towns flooded to the rooftops and the prospect of nearly 3 million evacuated residents pouring back onto the highways for home, the news was overwhelmingly positive.
Petrochemical plants that supply a quarter of the nation's gasoline suffered only a glancing blow, with just one major plant facing weeks of repairs. The reflooding in New Orleans from levee breaks was isolated mostly to areas already destroyed and deserted, and could be pumped out in as little as a week. And contrary to dire forecasts, Rita and its heavy rains moved quickly north as a tropical depression instead of parking over the South for days and dumping a predicted 25 inches of torrential rains.
Most significantly, deaths were minimal — with only two reported so far — largely because residents with fresh memories of Katrina heeded evacuation orders and the storm followed a path that spared Houston and more populous stretches of the coast.
I am indeed glad that the damage caused by Rita is not as bad as initially feared. I am really sorry for those who lost their property in the hurricane and also those who lost loved ones.