Wednesday, September 07, 2005

What played out (is still playing out) in New Orleans continues to cause me moments of great despair as I go about my daily life here in Philly. The spin around us is amazing and the content is terrible and it is hard to listen for too long. I am afraid that the consequences of this are going to have reach far and wide and I don't think we really know what is ahead. However, more than the actual hurricane itself, the underlying core of this is rotten and that is what is so disturbing and upsetting. The total lack of leadership from those with the real power here is astounding.

The pieces that I've picked up in the news that give me hope are those from other countries where they share an alternative vision for how to prepare for disaster as a community. These aren't perfect governments by any means either, but there is clearly learning and collective wisdom embedded within the thinking behind these plans.

The first was an interview I heard on the radio show "The World" where a Bangladeshi BBC, Sabit Mustafa, is interviewed and shares what Bangladesh learned from a 1991 hurricane that killed hundreds of thousands. It can be downloaded here: Comparing New Orleans to Bangladesh (4:30) ... The second was an article that was sent to me through a list that I'm on that describes how Cuba dealt with a similar situation last September -- The Two Americas.

I'm interested in following up on this thread about evacuation as time moves along here. How are folks without cars factored into evacuation plans? I am, after all, one of them. Do I know anything about plans for Philadelphia in case of an emergency. Well, no. I don't. ... Here's what it says about evacuation on Philadelphia's Emergency Preparedness and Response plan. Reading this, I'll just say that I'm glad I have neighbors with cars and cash on hand. Reminds me though I should put batteries in this radio I have here just in case they really do announce what corner you should go stand on.


Anonymous John said...

Ignoring some of the political bombast, the Two Americas article had some good points. The idea of pre-set evacuation points should be considered. I don’t think it is as easy as saying in case of a flood (or whatever) everyone in X goes to these places. For one thing, I don’t believe Americans would accept that type of order. For another, if it is a large city normally not all of it is going to be at risk from every crisis, so there would have to be someway of identifying who should leave. Also you would have to specify not that just Philadelphia should go to Allentown, Harrisburg and wherever, but which neighborhoods should go where. You can’t have everyone go to Allentown and no one in Harrisburg.

Another good point, which does not relate just to disasters, is Bush’s unwillingness to call for shared sacrifice, or to put in another way to recognize that choices require trade offs and we can’t have everything. If you want, or need to, other things such as tax cuts may have to be postponed so that the war and other governmental needs can be met. Bush has bought acceptance of his policies by acting like the can do all it wants and still cut taxes. It is not just the cost of the war that put a strain on levee work it is all the pork spending he allows as a way of keeping support in Congress (and the communities).

1:36 PM  

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