Bus Disaster

B Ozanne

May 3, 2004
I don't want to go into details, but this just shows that ordering an evacuation isn't as simple as it sounds. The dangers of evacuating might be more than staying. You just never know.

This looks to be a good defense for those accused in LA for not evacuating the elderly.
A good defense for allowing people to stay in a place that was always assumed couldn't survive anything more than a Cat 3 storm? I think not.
A good defense for allowing people to stay in a place that was always assumed couldn't survive anything more than a Cat 3 storm? I think not.

I didn't saw excuse, I said defense.
I think my point is getting missed. I agree that people need to evacuate. I agree that evacuation is dangerous. I agree that hurricanes are dangerous.

Clearly evacuation saves more lives than it puts at risk.
We are almost always going to see an indirect hurricane related fatality when these evacuations occur. With so many people, things happen. This bus fire happens to be a very unfortunate occurrence that would have happened if these people weren't evacuating a hurricane.
It was pretty gut-wrenching when I turned on the tv early this morning and saw the flames. At the time I knew the results were going to be grim.
Bus Tragedy

HOUSTON - Finger-pointing is still at a minimum here, but just like meteorology, at some point a decision must be made and things rarely turn out quite as planned. I am reminded that only an organization as large as the government is capable of handling something this large, but by its very nature it must be relatively bureaucratic. Can't just have all us cowboys running amok! This happens in all large organizations faced with a potentially overwhelming crisis - public or private. Taking action outside our normal roles in an organization is not easy and the wrong action can increase the danger rather than mitigate it. Some are comfortable with this ambiguity, many are not.
Bottom line:

We had dozens of underwater school buses in New Orleans under jurisdiction of a less-than-competent local government, and a body count there which (while Praise God it may not be 100,000 as was speculated) is growing.

Now we had many buses leaving Galveston filled with people. One other bus (the shell of this one looked transcontinental rather than local) develops a brake fire in Ellis County, TX, and, tragically, happens to be carrying some elderly people hooked up to oxygen cannisters, which explode.

Horrendous news either way.

And there's always going to be human error with any operation, private or public.
There is unfortunately risk in everything in life. Unfortunately, in putting over a million people on the road there will likely be some loss of life on the road. As almost all storm chasers recognize, our biggest risk is the roads we drive.

There is an interesting article that explores the risk of requiring child safety seats on airlines. The added cost of the seat would force more people to drive which is an inherently more dangerous mode of transportation and consequently what would appear to potentially increase safety, actually ends up costing lives.

Evacuation from a costal postition is probably less risky in the overall calculus.
Will those who died in the bus fire be in the official death toll for Rita?


Not that it should matter, one life lost is one too many... but I would assume, "no." From what investigators have found, the bus caught on fire due to mechanical failure, with the fire spreading through the bus, itself, resulting in explosions from on-board oxygen tanks...

This is in no way related to Hurricane Rita.

Regards -
Well the deaths occurred as a result of the evacuation... there were elderly people who died on busses leaving New Orleans who were counted in Katrina's toll. In those cases, it was heat and the lack of the air conditioning in the busses. I can see how a case could be made that this is a similar situation... old and frail individuals being evacuated and then their deaths resulting from mechanical issues on the bus.
This is in no way related to Hurricane Rita

It is a direct result of Rita actually, but not the fault of the Rita. There is a difference. Also what exasetrbated the fire's damage 20 fold were the O2 cannisters for the elderl that blew in result of the fire onboard (or blew themselves for other reasons).