Thursday, September 22, 2005

Take 2

Well, by now everyone has heard about Lovely Rita. It seems that we are about to have an instant replay of Katrina. Or are we? Permit me some semi-random observations:
  • It seems like the folks in Texas have their act together for Rita far more than the folks in Louisiana did for Katrina. They're evacuating earlier, they're using their busses, they're making sure that the people who can't get themselves out are gotten out, they've already called in the Feds and other outside help, the National Guard is mobilized, etc.. In other words, it seems they're following their emergency plans.
  • Resources are already mobilized and in the area. This gives Texas a big head start.
  • New Orleans, if not Louisiana, apparently has learned something--they've called in busses and are trying to get people to leave.
  • Texas evacuees are being allowed to take their pets, which came out as a big reason a lot of people didn't evacuate for Katrina.
Those are all good things. The bad, as I see it, are:
  • For the first time in history (so I've heard) we're looking at a Category 5 hurricane actually making landfall. Predications are for it to move inland, and still be a Category 1 storm after being over land for 24 hours. I'm not sure if this has ever happened before. This is going to be ugly--very ugly. A lot of very expensive Texas real estate will simply be wiped off the map.
  • We have troops (including a lot of the National Guard) in Afghanistan, Iraq and several other war zones. We're going to be hard pressed to deal with 2 major disasters at once.
  • Gas prices are going to rocket up again. All the other prices, such as for building materials, are going to get way worse than I predicted right after Katrina's extraordinary damage became obvious.
  • We're going to be dealing with millions of storm refugees for a long time.
  • The issue of where the money comes from to pay for all this is going to become pressing. The Feds turned the money faucet wide open for Katrina; they won't be able to do less for Rita. Hang onto you wallet. One of 3 things must happen--the deficit will go up dramatically, taxes will go up dramatically, or spending will be cut dramatically. Or some combination of the three. Something, however, will have to be done.
I suggest making your plans now for an economically difficult fall, winter and spring. I suspect it will last longer than that, but plan on at least 3 quarters of problems. Stock up on any and everything, and don't take on debt of any kind.

I don't even want to think about another big storm, and the Pacific Rim is getting awfully seismically active. This could be the stuff of nightmares.

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