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Why Plan? Or… "Yeah, but…"
© 2006 RogueTurtle.com
As disasters go, the flooding in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina was relatively slow moving and very predictable. The television news people warned for several days that the approaching storm was "likely" to hit the New Orleans area. The really prudent people (make that the wealthy people who had somewhere else to go) left and went somewhere else to ride out the storm. Unlike a tsunami, the folks in New Orleans knew it was coming and did very little to help themselves.
Many people didn’t think the storm would be as bad as it was so they did nothing to prepare for it. They "knew" that the government would take care of them. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
In between these two extremes, left all the rest of the people who could have done something; should have done something; put off doing something...but didn’t get around to it.
It would have been a great idea to put aside at least a gallon of fresh water per person per day for two weeks… "Yeah, but that takes up a lot of storage space I just can’t find around my house."
It would have been a great idea to set aside enough canned food to be able to serve at least one meal a day per person for two weeks… "Yeah, but I can't lay out that much cash all at once...the stores were sold out...I don't have space to store it...the food will spoil before we get to eat it…"
The "Yeah, Buts" prevent more preparation than any other reason I know of. If you really sat down and planned out a reaction to any disaster, you would find that you CAN put this stuff aside; you CAN purchase food and put it aside; You CAN store water out of the way in a safe spot. The trick is to start gathering this stuff slowly over a long period of time, where the cash impact is not so high. Stored food can be rotated so that you eat the oldest food before it goes bad, and replace it with fresh food. Bottled water doesn't spoil. It may get "flat", but that won't make you sick.
It would have been a great idea to set aside a small tool kit of non-electrical powered tools to help set up a shelter from the rain. "Yeah, but they'll just rust away until I need them...they cost too much...I can't store them...blah...blah...blah."
It would have been a great idea to have a couple of rolls of heavy plastic sheeting to make a roof over my partially damaged house so I could get at least a little sleep. "Yeah, but I don't know where to get this kind of stuff...what do I do with it...I'm no house builder...you want ME to do that?"
YEAH, BUT is your worst enemy. It prevents you from doing anything to help yourselves.
I bet a lot of you out there watched on satellite TV all the "poor suffering people stuck inside the Super Dome" or trapped in the neighborhoods with no food, water, clothing, or shelter. Did you cry for them. I didn't. I can't whip up sadness for people too stupid to help themselves.
Let’s start with the basics: Why on earth would anyone buy a home inside a city that HAS TO FLOOD. The city is BELOW SEA LEVEL. If the pumps go off, the city fills up. Seems like a simple problem but no one pays attention.
In 1968 I was stationed at England Air Force Base in Alexandria Louisiana. I remember that the local TV and radio stations at that time were arguing with the Army Corps of Engineers about the flood levees in New Orleans. I’m sad to say that in 37 years they did NOTHING to fix the problem. "Yeah, but it costs too much to fix."
Now they get to fix the problem AND rebuild their damaged city.
Fix the water supply...no, lets party.
Here is what I saw when I watched the TV:
I saw hundreds and hundreds of people standing around doing nothing to help themselves. I saw people in shock sitting in the rain. I saw children playing in filthy flood waters. I saw people who had given up any hope except that the Federal Government would come and rescue them. The thought that they could help themselves NEVER ENTERED THEIR MINDS.
There were some rays of hope. I remember one segment where the press was floating around in a boat following another rescue worker who had a boat to himself. They came up to one house in a neighborhood where there was a group of people on a second floor balcony. They had the barbecue going and seemed in great spirits. When the incredulous would-be rescuer offered to "take them to safety" they laughed it off saying they had been prepared and could ride it out until the water receded. These were people with a plan, prepared for whatever faced them. My hat's off to them. But there were very few of these hardy folks.
Shelter: The entire city was a waste land of ruined homes with lumber and debris piled everywhere. It was an open-air "Home Depot" with no waiting line. Help yourselves. Nobody did it.
This web site will have further articles concerning specific plans, equipment, techniques, tools and supplies that everyone can use. The most important thing you can do for yourself right now is to remember that "Yeah, but" will get you killed. Doing something is better than doing nothing. If you can make your life and the life of your loved ones better...even for one hour or one day...then it was worth the effort.