(Image by John Deering, Arkansas Democrat Gazette)
In the end, the impact of Hurricane Rita will not be as terrible as so many of us feared. Yes, there is damage, there is hardship, there is loss, there is injury and there is - at least in one tragic case on a highway outside of Dallas - even death.
But - thank God, thank goodness and thank YOU - it has not been as bad as we feared.
We have much we should be thankful for ... and many to whom we should be thankful. And I do not use the word, "we," lightly. That's because, in the case of Hurricane Rita, there was so much first-hand, personal and professional connection between the people of the Texas Gulf Coast, and the people of West Texas. As the storm approached the shores of the Lone Star State .. so many of us were wondering, calling, offering.
I suspect that there will be many "what if" pieces published in the days ahead. What if a more potent storm had made landfall at Galveston, for example, or Houston? It should make for great chat ... or at least it WILL after many of us have gotten some sleep, catching-up on what was lost over the last few days and nights.
My own feeling is that, had the storm taken a turn for the worse, there would have been more damage, more loss ... BUT, that would have been alleviated by the emergency preparedness measures taken in advance of the storm by local, state and federal authorities. I suspect that, in the years ahead, policy-makers will look at Rita-Texas as a positive example, from which we might all learn ... and Katrina-Louisiana as just the opposite.