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Threshold For Disaster Skewed

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

We make mistakes sometimes, and the mistake we're making this week is the downplaying of the damage from Hurricane Rita.

The traffic jams from Houston last week looked like a prelude to the apocalypse. So when Hurricane Rita didn't hit one of the biggest cities in America it was, "Wow what a relief." Well, yes, a relief to Houstonians.

But what of the people in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana? If you are one of the 2,000 residents of Cameron, Louisiana, your home was flattened like a pancake. Other little town like Hackberry and Holly Beach — there's not much there anymore.

Flood waters stretch from the Texas state line all the way to Houma, Louisiana. Even bigger towns like Lake Charles — miles from the coast — will long be without power. No power, no water, trees in the streets. The clean up will take weeks.

In any other year Hurricane Rita would be a dominant news story. But, because of Hurricane Katrina our threshold for disaster has been skewed to a higher level.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

By Harry Smith

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