OPINION | Barry Richard: Media Already Playing Harvey Blame Game
Why does there always have to be someone to blame? Harvey continues to show no mercy to East Texas and the media is already looking for someone to blame. Can't we at least wait until the recovery process begins before we start pointing fingers?
Harvey is an unprecedented natural disaster. From where I sit in the safety of my dry office space there is an heroic effort underway to rescue storm victims trapped by rising flood waters in Greater Houston and elsewhere. The loss of life, at least at this point appears minimal. The destruction is horrific and mounting.
The entire Texas National Guard and public safety officials from through out The Lone Star State are racing against time to locate the missing and those still stranded. Across the country Americans are lining up to donate blood and are writing checks to help with the relief effort. Volunteers are flooding into Taxes to lend a hand. Recovery will take a long, long time.
Like most Americans enjoying one of the final weekends of the Summer season I didn't see much coverage of Harvey until Monday morning when schedules and routines returned to normal. I was horrified at what I saw. I was equally horrified to hear that in the midst of the crisis some in the media were already looking to assign blame.
It didn't take long for news commentators to begin asking why Houston Mayor, Democrat Sylvester Turner hadn't issued a mandatory evacuation order. With many thousands of people needing rescue from rooftops and homes would it not have made sense for Turner to order everyone to leave in advance of the storm?
Before you jump on that bandwagon consider that there are 6.5 million people living in Greater Houston. How do you evacuate 6.5 million people? And to where? Imagine if you will 6.5 million people clogging the region's highways as flood waters rose some 10-15 feet. Imagine all of those residents without transportation walking on streets soon to be washed away by more than 40 inches of rain.
On Friday Governor Gregg Abbott recommended that residents leave Houston ahead of the storm. Some did. Most did not. Again, how do you force 6.5 million people to evacuate?
Mayor Turner made the right decision in not calling for a mandatory evacuation, instead leaving it to residents to determine whether or not to seek higher ground. Everyone in East Texas had been given ample warning of what was to come and to make plans accordingly. If you are standing in front of an oncoming train do you need to be told to get out of the way?
Disasters happen. They will continue to happen. Heroes roll up their sleeves and help the afflicted. The rest sit at news desks in New York and Washington and criticize.
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.