In addition to the destruction and loss of life, there are several side effects caused by hurricanes, which require careful decisions by authorities and researchers involved in weather forecasting, responsible for the guidelines given to the affected population.
In the event of evacuations, for example, it is possible for people to panic and for regions to be overwhelmed by heavy vehicle traffic, leaving those seeking refuge exposed to numerous risks. During the covid-19 pandemic, then, and under a storm like Laura, every detail must be considered. Fortunately, Houston, Texas, United States, was in good hands this time.
With the careful monitoring of specialists, who had cutting edge technology and cold blood, the unnecessary displacement of more than 7 million residents during the devastating phenomenon was avoided. The professionals based themselves on what happened 15 years ago with Hurricane Rita, which forced more than 3 million people to evacuate the city and ended up weakening soon after.
During the procedure, normal trips of three or four hours took more than 20, 67 died due to the heat of 37 degrees and 23 patients of hospitals transported by a bus were victims of a fire. All of this could be avoided.
Caution and result
With the population growth and the complexity of the infrastructures, if something similar were witnessed during Laura, in addition to all the dangers already mentioned, the contamination by the new coronavirus would take unimaginable proportions.
As such, Eric Blake, of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, lowered expectations about the worst possible scenario with a detailed monitoring of the phenomenon using state-of-the-art equipment. He, Jeff Lindner (chief predictor of the Harris County Flood Control District) and Lina Hidalgo (local judge) set up a real task force.
Together, the three chose to hold the ends and not perform a mandatory, only voluntary evacuation. Only in the latter case would this occur, which would have already been alleviated by those who followed the guidelines without haste. Result: the storm changed direction, the city was not destroyed by Laura and the population was not exposed to chaos without needing to.
The nightmare did not happen.