The End of the Season
The 2005 hurricane season has been the most active season ever recorded. It's January 3, 2006, and tropical storm Zeta, the 27th storm of the 2005 season, is still active. No season ever before had exhausted the alloted first names, no season before had to use Greek names, and the 2005 season needed six! Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and Zeta! Only Beta and Epsilon became hurricanes, and none of them did enough damage to be retired (if a storm does enough damage, its name won't be reused), but think about it: What does it even mean to retire a storm that's just a generic Greek letter?
In the aftermath of Katrina, hundreds of thousands of Louisiana residents fled to Houston. 25,000 were supposed to be housed in the Astrodome, about a mile from where I live. In the end, only about 11,000 were placed there, and they were evacuated when Rita approached Houston (how convenient - no one wanted them there, especially not me), but Greater Houston has grown by over 250,000 people - a quarter of a million! - due to Katrina.
While I'm fortunate that I can't say I've personally made an unpleasant experience, crime rates have spiked in Houston. I can't cite official sources yet, but the local news were full of incidents. It's sad, but it makes sense: The people that fled New Orleans and then decided to stay had nothing to go back to. They were poor in New Orleans already, and they still are poor. And while by all means not every poor person is a criminal, no one doubts that chronic, concentrated poverty breeds crime.
Rita missed Houston, and the 2005 hurricane season seems to be finally coming to an end now, early in 2006, but the damage done to Houston cannot even be estimated right now.
Thanks again for reading.