St. Charles Herald-Guide

Itís all about the angle

By Patrick Yoes - June 7, 2006

Itís all about the angle.

Nine months later, with the scars of Hurricane Katrina all around us and the vivid images of the madness she left in her wake still fresh in our mind, Hurricane Season is once again upon us. With it comes the very real need to start your evacuation planning.

Donít forget, when Katrina took her last minute wobble to the east, St. Charles Parish was afforded the difference between the doom our neighbors have lived with ever since the storm and the boom we are enjoying n our local economy in this Post Katrina rearranged Louisiana. Had Katrina not taken that wobble to the east just before landfall, it could have very well been images of your or my home shown as the back drop of the evening news reports for the past nine months.

There is a great deal of discussion about who has the right answers as to what the 2006 Hurricane Season will bring. Renown Colorado State University hurricane researcher, Dr. Bill Gray has made predictions for over 50-years with impressive accuracy. Unfortunately, he was close to his record-breaking predictions of the 2005 Hurricane Season. For the 2006 season he predicts storm totals lower than last season, but much higher activity than most seasons of the past. But neither Gray, nor any expert for that matter, can tell us who will be impacted.

Hurricanes make their way to the New Orleans area on a frequency that can be tracked by reviewing the historical data of all recorded storms. If the laws of the average remain in our favor, a direct hit of the New Orleans Metro Area is certainly possibleÖ it just isnít probable.

But the odds or predictions really donít matter; we are prone to flooding, even at the hands of the smallest storms making landfall many miles away. As we well know, a storm doesnít have to be a direct strike to cause us problems and our probability of that happening is on average, every other year. In reality, it is all about the angle of the winds approaching our region and it doesnít always matter where the storm actually moves inland.

Hurricane Rita impacted the Louisiana and Texas stateline; yet, she flooded many areas of Southeast Louisiana left vulnerable by a weakened network of earthen levees and floodgates that have already proven to be less than adequate by Katrina.

Hurricane Juan in the mid 1980ís was a minimal storm at best, yet he flooded a large portion of St. Charles Parish. Tropical Storm Francis in the late 1990ís brought considerable flooding throughout our parish as she moved into the Houston area. The flow of winds that push water into our communities make us even more vulnerable that a direct hit, simply because it happens more often that storms like Katrina.

The bottom line is, the best time to plan for the next disaster is now. Every family should have a location prearranged and a list of items they should bring with them when the evacuation order comes. While it is possible we might evacuate early only to find that we were spared, the alternative makes evacuating well worth the inconvenience. Make you plans now!