Monday, September 8, 2008

No Place Is Truly Safe

Image credit: Weather Underground

[Click on the image to see it full size.]

With Hurricane Ike crossing Cuba on its way toward the Gulf Coast, Elizabeth Walters' guest essay at Pacific Views seems especially timely today:

To live now in St. Bernard Parish, or New Orleans, or any other Gulf Coast community that has been destroyed over the past few years requires the ability to simultaneously acknowledge the past and believe in your heart that history cannot repeat itself so cruelly. If someone truly thinks that another storm will bring destruction on the scale of Katrina, then south Louisiana is just not a place it is possible to live.

The people here elevate their houses, urge the government to strengthen the levees and do everything they can to prepare themselves for the next time a storm comes. But ultimately, this place is at the mercy of wind and water, and its future is left to forces beyond our control—to fate, to luck, to God, to global warming, to probability. Although we dodged a bullet with Gustav, the storm succeeded in shaking that faith.

Close Call:A Brush With A New Storm Revives Fears From Katrina

Image credit: Wikipedia Commons

Of course, we in the Pacific Northwest know about the forces of nature. If we don't when we arrive, there is an earthquake or a volcano every few years to remind us. The truth is that no matter what part of the country you live in, there are hazards like this. We can talk about how foolish people are to live in a flood plain or along a fault, but the fact is that there are disasters everywhere. I've lived through floods on the East Coast, tornado watches in the Midwest, and earthquakes and volcanoes on the West Coast. On two separate occasions, I've avoided hurricanes by a matter of hours while visiting Florida.

That's why we need to remember that even though it's New Orleans today that is suffering, it could be your community or mine tomorrow. No place is really safe. Get used to that idea, and learn to plan for it. And remember that a government's competence at planning for disasters, and dealing with them in a humane and timely manner, is more important than just about any other function it can perform.

Check out Elizabeth Walters' essay. It's a good one.


HopeSpringsATurtle said...

I've been watching the weather closely. Put a hurricane watch gadget on my homepage. The house I left on the Mississippi Gulf Coast lost its roof during Katrina. As mad as I still am at my ex, Istill don't want anything to happen to the house I put so much work into. I have friends all along the gulf and epoel at Keesler in Biloxi. My heart and prayers go out to them all. Thanks for the post Cuj.

Cujo359 said...

I hope your (ex-)house is OK. The latest chart suggests Ike's headed toward south Texas, but we all know that can change in the next couple of days.

Anyway, it's hard to wish for the thing to go a particular way. No matter where it goes, someone gets hit hard. Cuba sure took a beating today.