Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene Was A Wolf

Already I am reading stories about people who are complaining about preparing for the “Storm of the Century” that didn’t happen. Complaints of the hype surrounding Irene and the extensive evacuations, shutting down public transportation, sandbagging, etc. are coming from residents up and down the Eastern coast.

One local old salt on North Carolina coast claimed that this was nothing but media hype and that he had gone through many worse storms before. All that evacuation was a waste of time and money according to him.

Some would-be politicians even have the gall to joke that Irene was a message from God to Washington lawmakers. Seriously? Over 30 people died, priceless personal objects lost or ruined, homes flooded, bridges and roads were washed away and the damage is estimated at around three billion dollars. Hardly joking material.

The obvious contrast to this is Katrina, where the shout of a wolf’s approach was too little, too late and too unrealistic. People either had nowhere to go, no means to do it, or simply didn’t want to leave their homes. As a result, over 1800 people died and the cost just in dollars was around 8.1 billion. Entire neighborhoods still lay in ruins.

That’s the problem with Emergency Preparedness. When you prepare well and relatively little seems to happen, people think a big deal was made of nothing. [Los Angelinos might well think of the recent shutting down of the heavily traveled 405 freeway for a weekend, or Carmageddon, which resulted in surprisingly little disruption.] However, that is the point. When you prepare well, you expect very little to happen because, well, you prepared well!

And, just for record, our salty North Carolina friend, also had a high-sitting house with plenty of food, water and an emergency generator, so he was well-prepared and was confident because of it.

So, when you hear the notice to prepare, to evacuate, to shelter in place, don’t think of it as a cry for a wolf who never comes. Think of it as a reminder that this is why we prepare. We are ready for that wolf, and even with that huff and puff, he simply can’t blow your house down.

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