Thursday, September 01, 2005

Just How Would I Handle Disaster?

There is nothing but bad news coming in from New Orleans and Biloxi and everything in between. It sounds like the chaos of a war zone with no hope for improvement any time soon. One scary thing I heard is that toxic waste dumps have floated to the surface with the rising water and just started to spread. What a sobering thought. But the more immediate problems of no food, no drinking water, and a total lack of everything else essential are far more obvious to most people. One person took comfort in the fact that all her “nearest and dearest” were safe and sound. But what about all those people who are just plain homeless and wretched right now?

I have lived through the heavy rains from hurricanes which came close to my home on the Florida panhandle, but never ever did we see anything like the devastation of Katrina. As I sit here with my stomach full and my A/C humming, I almost feel guilty for being so comfortable, so satisfied with everything I need for life.

All disaster spawns economic surges. I’m sure the construction industry on the Gulf Coast considers Katrina’s damage a windfall. I read today that there may be $35 billion dollars of damage. That will keep a lot of people busy for a long time.

Even the American Community Survey (a 3-million-household-a-year survey which I process) is stepping up to the plate as a way to track just what happens to those thousands of displaced people over the next couple of years. Their misfortune is our claim to fame!

I count myself fortunate to have been spared the loss and suffering that so many are experiencing. Perhaps my time is yet to come, another year, another storm. I wonder how I will behave if and when it ever comes?

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