This is where I came in.....
As I said at the time, this led to the deaths of several elderly people when the nursing home van they were in caught fire after idling for several hours. Local officials made matters worse by telling everyone in the path of the storm to evacuate. Tout le Houston thought of themselves as "in the path of the storm," and evacuate they did. I live well inland from even the Houston Ship Channel, but people well to my west (away from the coast) were jumping in their cars and heading for the exits. They didn't get very far; even the roads to Austin, almost due west of here, were clogged beyond capacity. Had the storm actually struck Houston, the damage would have been nearly incalculable, as some people rode out the night of the storm on the freeways in and around the city.
In the end, Rita struck Beaumont and Lake Charles, well to the east of Houston. As I said at the time (again!), this is pretty much the damage Houston got directly from Rita.
So now comes ebola to the U.S. via Texas (actually via Belgium and one of the airports in D.C., but why split hairs), and I'm seeing the same panic again. When Rita threatened Houston, not only did the fourth largest city in the country turn into a ghost town (city streets were empty around me; it was like the Rapture), but I saw a man in my neighborhood board up his house and paint the wood with the legend "Looters will be shot!"
When Ike took out power in the city for three weeks a few years later, nobody panicked or boarded up their house and waited for the rapacious looters. In fact, no chaos befell the city at all, and nobody was afraid.
In this scenario, ebola is Rita; the crisis in west Africa is Katrina. And Rick Perry is the hapless administrator in Houston (one of several) telling us panic is our best option just now; when he isn't blaming the Federal government for not keeping Texas safe. Yes, the same Federal government which shouldn't tell Texas how to pollute its air, water, and soil, should have protected Texas from one terminal case of ebola, and two people who are symptomatic but being treated.
In other states, because we don't have the wherewithal, even with the Texas Medical Center and UTMB-Galveston, to handle it. Apparently.
The panic, though, is familiar. It is media induced. Nobody who came to Houston from Katrina to find shelter in the Astrodome was blind with fear. No fear swept through Houston at their presence. Local people helped out, even if Tom DeLay made a fool of himself down there. We were calm.
Until the threat of a storm came. We didn't panic when Ike was coming, either; or after it tore up the city and wrecked our power system and scattered trees like they were Tinker-toys.
But now, the country has turned into Houston, and panic is the word of the day. It's almost funny, talking about a "travel ban" from "west Africa," when no one is calling for a travel ban on Texas, which is where the virus is in this country. Well, now we've taken it to two other states, so I suppose we should quarantine those states, too.
Just a long winded way of saying I've seen this movie, and shame on us all for not knowing how it ends, and for replacing native American xenophobia for native American common sense. Houston embarrassed itself in the Rita debacle, and people died who should have been safely home.
How far are we going to follow the analogy this time?
*yes, you can even use that neglect by the Federal government as part of the analogy, if you want to.