Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Email: Hurricane Katrina's aftermath [VI]

New Orleans, Louisiana (500,000 population) is under 2-20 feet water after three days, and it will stay that way until they can begin to repair the levees (possibly tonight). There is no power or phones, and airlifts of water and food have been steady. They are evacuating the rest of the city, including the hospitals and 23,000 who took refuge in the Superdome (which was rated for 150 mph winds, but [Katrina's] blew holes in); many of these are coming to Houston. It may take a month for initial stages of cleanup. Over-water highways north and east for miles were torn into chunks. The Gulf coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were hard hit, with at least 100 dead and rescue efforts continuing. This is the third-strongest hurricane and biggest (though not the most fatal) hurricane disaster in U.S. history.

I could say things about the government's delays in getting help to the areas, but let us be thankful for the help that has arrived and is arriving. Citizens are also pitching in from Texas and all over; DA has already left to work with FEMA.

We don't need the Bible to know there will be natural disasters; to avoid water and tornado damages, we might all just live on plateaus and mountains, but instead population centers frequently establish themselves at the confluence of two rivers or on flat low-lying land. Nor is there an increase in natural disasters (save for those with short attention spans), so the Bible isn't predicting "end times" yet (save for those of small minds who indulge in such wishful thinking). Of course it's sad when lives are lost; but for the most part, these were people who did not heed the warnings to evacuate the area or call the authorities for emergency evacuation to a shelter -- and still others went outdoors to experience the storm and were killed by falling trees. No one should stay in a city that is 10 feet under sea level and surrounded by the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, and vulnerable to storm surge from the ocean, when a category 5 hurricane 400 miles across with 165 mph winds is bearing down! This wasn't unforeseen. It was, however, unanticipated by too many.

[Aftermath is a word that means "lessons afterwards." However, the lessons that need to be learned later can be lessened when what is already known is applied before and soon after the disaster hits. While Katrina was an unprecedented storm, I would be shocked if the authorities didn't have emergency plans ready, and then put them in place the same day of the storm's arrival. Why aren't there more boats? Drinking water? Gasoline? Generators? Army trucks? Police and National Guard to control the looters? The Army Corps of Engineers can build a bridge across the Euphrates River in hours under combat conditions yet the gaps in New Orleans' levees aren't patched yet? Where are the cell phone companies who should already be restoring their service? Government officials and bureaucrats are still discussing what the priorities should be. Duh! Everyone knows the priorities are saving lives first; then evacuating people while also stopping the flooding and looting; then restoring phone, water and electric service. Anyone who can deliver these things to the affected areas will be a godsend. Meanwhile as the bureacrats observe and debate, the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and our first responders have stepped in the breach and are working around the clock. God bless America and our sister states in their time of need.]


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