Nine years ago, Hurricane Katrina nearly drowned New Orleans. It was the most destructive, deadly hurricane in U.S. history, though hurricanes Sandy and Irene were larger. Katrina was 400 miles in diameter, Irene was 520, and Sandy was an inconceivable 940 miles across.
September is Disaster Preparedness Month, a federal observance. Ready.gov has solid advice, which I am following part of. You are also probably following some but not all of it.
As I remembered Katrina, I thought the first way to prepare for a disaster would be to live in a place with a functioning, not corrupt, sensible government.
If the levees had not failed, the city would not have been damaged much. If the government had been functional, the levees would have been built solidly and well-maintained. Those levees were the American equivalent of shoddy buildings destroyed by earthquakes in China, Turkey, and Iran.
In hearings after the city flooded, local and federal officials said they were confused about who was responsible for the levees.
Magical New Orleans
Of course, choice of where to live is bigger than selecting a decent government. New Orleans is magical, and it’s clear why a person would take the risk to live in the Big Easy.
On a smaller scale, we can protect ourselves even if we live someplace with a dysfunctional government. Sadly, I am among that group, here in Atlanta that just had no idea how to handle 2 inches of snow last winter.
We did well through that one, because we believed the weather service, unlike some people, such as our governor. We stayed in, with a generator and plenty of food and water on hand. Don’t laugh; we were truly stranded by the impassable streets.
But my family was together. What if we had been apart?
Before a disaster, have a way to get in touch, a place to meet, and a designated out-of-town contact person. Ready.gov states, “Identify a contact such as a friend or relative who lives out-of-state for household members to notify they are safe. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.”
That’s going to be the most important thing when the next disaster comes.