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Experts Weigh In on Hurricane Response

It's not over yet. But as Hurricane Wilma moves on its path to the US, the season is already being reviewed, especially by two experts on disasters.

"If you combine it with last year as well, with the number of storms that hit Florida and this year, we've really seen an upswing in the number of potentially devastating storms," said Dr. Walt Peacock, who heads up A&M's Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center.

Through his extensive study of natural disasters, Peacock's seen a couple trends. Mother Nature's ramping up, and people are spreading out.

"Part of what we're seeing is, simply, a major populations shift and concentration of people in areas that are highly susceptible to different types of natural hazards," he said.

The sprawl isn't being stopped by the storms, so more people need assistance. Enter Texas Task Force 1, and Director of Emergency Response and Rescue, Bob McKee.

"Everytime that we respond or prepare to respond is a new benchmark," he said.

And in the eventuality that Wilma packs a major punch to Florida, Task Force 1 may move out again. They moved in Katrina, and saw emergency plans tossed out the window in the chaos. Not so for Rita, a far more successful endeavor.

"We had a plan, but we stuck to that plan, and I think that was the key that it was successful," McKee said. "Certainly, the storm was not of the same magnitude and damage. Although still terrible, it wasn't as terrible. But you have to have a plan, and you have to stick to that plan."

And in the men's discussion at the Bush Library as part of A&M's Homeland Security Center, they noted other successes were seen, and mistakes from Katrina learned from.

"I'm optimistic because we saw a change between Katrina and Rita," said McKee. "We will continue to see changes. The unfortunate part of an incident like this is it brings challenges to light."

"I think we saw, with Rita, a much more open response, and we saw very active state and local involvement as well," Peacock added.

And with Florida's unfortunate experience with storms may fortunately come an organization yet to be seen this year.


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