So you have a Category 5 hurricane headed straight for your coast line. Anyone under the age of 40 living in the area has no first hand memory of a hurricane so large that it will take more then 48 hours to recover from. What goes through people’s minds at this point?
I’d assume that people have become ignorant of the strength of the wilderness. I mean why would it even occur to the typical city dweller that nature can flatten a city in the matter of a few hours? It isn’t like the world experienced a tsunami 8 months ago that leveled the coasts of numerous nations in minutes. I mean if we had experienced something like that with 24/7 news coverage for 2 weeks then people would be aware that this can and will happen to them. I guess we need to have a natural disaster every 6 months. It seems as though if there is 8 months between disasters then the world forgets what can happen.
So lets be real for a second. The hurricane moved through on Monday. The National Guard arrived Friday morning with massive amounts of food, water, and transportation to remove people. That is three and a half days after the hurricane passed through the area. Thats pretty impressive if you ask me. It takes a bit of preparation to move that many people, supplies, and vehicles. For the National Guard to arrive in three and a half days is impressive, if you ask me.
Some people have faulted the Iraq war as the reason it took them so long to respond. I don’t believe this impacted the time line significantly. So maybe they had to enlist to help of National Guard stations a little farther then normal, but that could not have added more then a half day to the time line. Only about 10 percent of our military forces are over seas in Iraq or Afghanistan at the moment. We should be able to operate a humanitarian mission within side our borders with 10% of our forces missing. If we can not, then as a nation we are in serious trouble.
If you look at the branches of the military that are built to respond at a minutes notice to situations of disaster, you’ll find the Coast Guard. On the 24/7 news coverage we have I witnessed Coast Guard helicopters on Tuesday morning pulling people off roofs, attics, etc. I thought the Federal Government was slow to respond?
So what are the people complaining about? New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin, publicly blasts the federal government for not responding fast enough. I’m confused here, the Coast Guard responded immediately. The National Guard arrived in force three and a half days later. The Army arrived four and a half days later. By the end of the fifth day all the residents located in the Super Dome and Convention center had been evacuated by these groups. This is phenomenal, a complete city evacuation within 5 days.
So Mayor Ray Nagin, where is your disaster plan? Since you are responsible for a city that is largely under sea level, protected by levies, shouldn’t you have an extensive disaster plan that your authorities could quickly execute? It isn’t the federal government’s job to bail you out when you fail to prepare.
One could make the argument that the city of New Orleans being off line will have severe negative effects on interstate trade, therefore it is the federal government’s responsibility. Lets get real though. Can the central government actually create and test disaster recovery plans for every Town/City with more then 10,000 people in the US? Of course not. That is too much for one central organization to do. Especially one who is far removed from the dangers of one specific region. The people who live in each region will understand the threats of nature better then anyone in Washington, a place with almost no worry of natural disaster.
So to all those people who do live in the Gulf regions effected by this and who are complaining to no end, what absolves you from responsibility for your life? Why does responsibility for your own life not lay on you, but rather some politician who probably doesn’t understand your needs anyway? We have many modern conveniences; electric, gas, sewer, and phone. All these things require relatively decent weather to operate safely. As above mentioned these things are just conveniences, they are things nice to have. Any person should be able to live without these conveniences. Maybe each neighborhood should have all external services shut off to them for a week each year just so they remember what fortunate lives they have.
The other thing I see people upset about is not being rescued instantly. Are you kidding? There was just a hurricane! Of course it will take some time for the authorities to rescue your dumb ass. It is your dumb ass, because you were told on Saturday that you should move to higher ground. I understand some people don’t have the money to leave the city, but shelters were setup ahead of time in the city to protect people. Worst case you should be able to walk to the nearest shelter. If you are too out of shape to walk to the nearest shelter that is your own damn fault. For people that can’t walk due to a legitimate disability (being fat isn’t a disability. It is an excuse) you should have summoned help.
All this talk brings me to the question, “Would I have been ok?”. The first thing to look at is what would I have done. Would I have left the city? Probably. In that case my car has two flashlights, fire extinguisher, water, food(energy bars), knife, maps, CB radio, shortwave radio, first aid kit, phone, GPS, blankets, and tools. What I would have brought with me is a small box of sentimental items, my computer, and a hand full of camping equipment. So I’d be fine if I would have left.
So if I was dumb enough to so stay at home I would have boarded up my doors and windows. I would have waded out the storm in my house as the people in New Orleans did. If I needed help I would not be crippled due to lack of phone service. I have the CB radio in my car with a long antenna that transmits pretty far. I have a shortwave hand cranked shortwave/fm/am radio that i could listen too for current news and weather. I have an extensive first aid kit, lantern and camp stove with fuel. I have bottled water, food, and a water filter for when my water runs out. Without the water filter you can distill your own water either with the Sun or with the camp stove. I also have a kayak that I could have loaded up with my necessities and left the house on.
So either way I could support myself safely for some period of time. Are there some additional things I would do to prepare myself for such a situation after thinking about it? Yes. I’ll stock a little more water and food in the car and house. I’ll put some sort of tarp/shelter in the car. Pretty much though there isn’t much I’d do different.
People need to take a step back after this. They need to take responsibility for their own survival. No one else is responsible for your survival. People should take a look at communities like the Amish and learn from them. There is eloquence in their simple self sufficient lives. There is nothing wrong with using public conveniences, but one needs to also be self sufficient if the need should present itself.
I feel deeply saddened for all the people effected by this disaster. I sympathize with them. Most have lost all, but their lives. Some have lost all. That is a great tragedy. What I have no sympathy for is the lack of responsibility people feel for their own lives. That is pathetic. Grow up and take responsibility. Stop whining that the rest of the country is not there in a seconds notice. It is your life, no one else’s. Act like it!