"I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing." ~ Dame Agatha Christie

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lessons Learned

To all those on the East Coast affected (however slightly) by Hurricane Irene, our thoughts and prayers are with you...

Six years ago today, I was sitting in a home in Picayune, Mississippi with my boss and her husband, watching Katrina in all her glory uproot pine trees that were over a hundred years old as if they were saplings.  We lost power and were unable to clear roads for several days--but we lived through the destruction.  I'm alive today in great part because folks who did not know me well insisted I evacuate with them rather than stay alone in my New Orleans apartment.  Many in New Orleans Parish and other areas of the Gulf Coast were not so Blessed.

It was interesting to me as I watched the various government agencies react to this weekend's weather.  As Catherine Aird once said, "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning."  We all saw (especially in hindsight) many mistakes before, during and after Katrina six years ago this very weekend.  Some things worked back then (the good examples) and other simply became horrible warnings...

I was pleasantly surprised to see FEMA and local and state officials show they learned lessons from Katrina:
  1. Mandatory (and early) evacuations of low-lying areas prior to the closing of mass transit
  2. Early deployment of National Guard and other emergency personnel to ensure as rapid a response to emergency that weather would allow
  3. Shelters set up in advance with supplies available to house evacuees
  4. Coordination of every level of government to allow each level to handle its own responsibility with the knowledge that the next level up is already prepared to step in and take over if necessary
The hindsight pundits that today are saying this weekend was "much ado about nothing" are entitled to their opinion.  Frankly, though, I would rather see a coordinated, timely, forewarned response than the devastation in lives and property that occurs when we simply sit back and hope for the best and then scramble to react after the fact.

To those of you experiencing the horrific flooding, stay strong.  It may not look like you will recover now, but recovery is possible.  Things can be replaced.  The quotation on my desk calendar today is from Buddha and seems most appropriate:

"Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful."

1 comment:

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