87th AMS Annual Meeting

Thursday, 18 January 2007: 11:15 AM
Hurricane Rita threatens Houston, Texas-What the Media did right and wrong
205 (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
Frank Billingsley, KPRC-TV, Houston, TX
I will present an overview of Hurricane Rita coverage in Houston when one-point-five million people attempted to evacuate in an environment still reeling from the Katrina strike which sent 200,000 evacuees to Houston. I'll review information from government and media given to the general public which lead to individual's decision making process, the immediate role my television station took in advising the public about the hurricane, what actions were necessary, and what actions might be necessary. Evacuation plans were sketchy and shaded-areas for evacuation zones gave little real information as to who should evacuate. Those that did leave found themselves in hours-upon-hours of traffic in 90-degree temperatures....with no food, no water, no gasoline, and no help. While the State has instated contraflow plans for highways, they have not addressed the issue of having little or no time for an evacuation if a Cat 1 should suddenly strengthen to a major storm.

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