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Published:September 5th, 2005 07:03 EST
Red Alert, Shields Up! Hurricane Katrina

Red Alert, Shields Up! Hurricane Katrina

By Sean Stubblefield

We too often take things for granted. Things like hurricane Katrina. When we don`t expect the unexpected, we are left totally unprepared to deal with it, practically & theoretically. We don`t usually (like to) think about such unsettling and upsetting things, and therefore have no foresight. If we don`t acknowledge it and pretend it doesn`t exist, maybe it will go away and leave us alone. We arrogantly and naively assume that nothing bad will happen to us. We would be mistaken.

Hurricane Katrina eradicated a whole city, with plenty of collateral damage. Really stop and think about that. It is almost as if an atomic bomb had been detonated inside the city.

New Orleans, for all intents and purposes, is gone. This is huge. I don`t think many people truly and fully comprehend the scope of just how huge.

The bad news is that we were totally unprepared, logistically and mentally, for the kind of devastation caused by Katrina. We had no structure or infrastructure in place, neither to protect people and property from the onslaught of the storm, nor its aftermath. There were no funds, no adequate facilities and resources available to accommodate such extensive destruction, and displacement of so many people. No ordered evacuation or relocation process. There were no contingency plans, no strategy, no anticipation. Everything resembling emergency assistance, rescue and relief aid had to be thrown together in a jerry-rigged, make it up as we go along fashion, at the last minute and after the fact. Relief and rescue efforts were poorly organized and executed. FEMA was completely insufficient to the task. The survivors of this storm wreckage have to depend on charitable donations and makeshift housing and medical treatment to survive afterward. Many people reportedly had to wait days before receiving any donated money or food, as well as medical treatment and housing, or the simple but vital comfort of a shower and clean clothes.

Several thousand people are now homeless, jobless and restless.

Where are they supposed to go? What are they supposed to do? How are they going to rebuild their lives? Our economy " our economic structure-- is revealed to be completely inefficient and inadequate. In the short term, reparations are being made for the refugees, but what about the long term effects of so many displaced individuals? How are they going to be relocated and re-integrated into society? The city of Houston alone has been suddenly flooded with new residents. How is their presence going to affect the local economies and resources of where ever they find a new home? Are they going to become a strain and a burden on everyone around them? Traffic in Houston is already a mess. What happens when these new residents start getting cars? And it is difficult enough to find jobs in Houston before this tragedy. How are we to employ all of them?

Are they going to settle permanently or indefinitely where they sought refuge, or distribute the weight of their presence across the country in other states?

And what about rebuilding the city of New Orleans?

These are the kinds of questions and concerns that need to be addressed and resolved. Very soon. Are we even up to the task?

Katrina gives us all reason and opportunity to wonder how we would fare with other tragedies of this magnitude, or greater. These are indeed tumultuous times we live and die in. The bombing of the World Trade Center, a gigantic tsunami in Asia, a humongous hurricane on the Gulf coast. These kinds of catastrophes seem to be increasingly and globally more prevalent. We are far from invulnerable.

If something as relatively small as the smashing of one city can throw us into such turmoil and disarray, how are we going to react to a third world war? What are we to do if an alien invasion were to commence? What is our response to be if other such massive natural disasters occur? What if the zombie hordes finally unleash their nefarious assault on mankind. (hey, we need a bit of levity in tragedy)

Humans do not reign supreme and unchallenged. There are dangers in this universe.

We need to take proper precautions.

The good news is that this complete lack of preparedness brought to our attention how unprepared we are, and maybe now we can correct that for the future.

Think about the future.