As many are aware, the disaster that hit the Gulf Coast of the United States this past week was monumental. As the stories and images unfolded before our ears and eyes we had to keep reminding ourselves that this was coming from a part of the United States, not a Third World country. Yet, lurking right underneath the surface of this tragic disaster is a wake up call for all of us. The people of the Gulf Coast were blasted by a large hurricane that stretched for many miles and wreaked havoc in four states, but it could just as easily have been an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, or terrorist attack. This is a warning for all of us to never forget to smell the coffee.
This Hurricane Katrina was fully expected. The authorities and the folks were completely aware that it was heading for them. The surprise was that no one expected the damage to be so extensive…still, each day as the storm approached, the National Hurricane Center was desperately trying to figure out where the center of the storm would hit. Last year the city of New Orleans dodged a bullet…one of the hurricanes just missed the city. As Hurricane Katrina headed towards New Orleans the levees would only be able to withstand a hit from a Category 3 Hurricane. Katrina was Category 5, until it just reached shore. 80% of New Orleans had heeded the warning to evacuate…yet, I kid you not, the night the storm hit there were Hurricane Parties along Bourbon Street. Many had told the authorities that they would not leave no matter what. Some were too poor to be able to leave…that responsibility fell to the city leadership to come up with a means to evacuate those in need. From what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen, there was a failure on the city, state, and federal levels to comprehend the enormity of devastation this storm could and would deliver. As you can imagine, the political Talking Heads are searching for someone to blame. The first name that always comes to mind for some is President Bush. Perhaps he was a little slow out of the starting blocks, but not as slow as the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana. If anyone out there thinks that the government is some great “Big Daddy” who is always going to be able to be there immediately to help us and take care of us when we fall down…..smell the coffee!
Since 9/11 there have been multiple articles stating that two events have a greater then 70% chance of happening within the next few years in the United States. One, that the city of New Orleans would be hit badly by a catastrophic hurricane, because of the deficiency of it’s levee system to hold back the water. Number two, is that California will be hit by a massive earthquake. What we have learned is that preparations were not put in place to protect New Orleans. I just hope California has looked at this disaster and prepared for worst case scenarios to protect themselves, if they receive a jolt from nature.
So what are we to learn from all this? I, living here in Massachusetts, have been told that one of the hurricanes this season could head up along the eastern seaboard of the United States and deliver a knock out punch to my state. If Massachusetts does get hit, and we are warned days ahead of time to prepare, it would be irresponsible of me not to stock up on bottled water, flashlights and batteries, canned food, and prepare my house as best as possible. While the authorities or the National Guard may get to me at some point, it is up to me to keep myself as safe as possible until the Calvary arrives. As I care for all of you who read this newsletter, I cannot stress enough that where ever you live, you be prepared for whatever events could pertain to your area, to keep yourself and your loved ones as safe as possible. Yes, there’s always a chance that we may not survive, but at least we did everything we could to place the odds in our favor. Let’s all smell the coffee….
Â© 2005 Jennifer Avalon