Friday, September 09, 2005

My Thoughts On All Things Katrina

LASunsett has asked for my thoughts on the Katrina disaster. I am reluctant to comment on this because I completely sympathize with all the officials involved. I am not willing to judge from a distance and I wasn’t involved in the Katrina preparation in anyway. What follows is just a series of thoughts, some from my occupational area, some on my political passion. Take what you will from them.

On Politicians:
Politicians are elected based on gathering the greatest number of votes by people who think they agree with that individual.

A politician will do anything to protect the citizen’s opinion of him/her.

Politicians are fallible people too.

A politician can have competent staff create plans but those plans will ALWAYS be adapted to the situation.

An evacuation plan that loses lives will kill your career. An evacuation plan that is ordered and not needed will kill your career.

Local politicians are responsible for local evacuations.

Plan communication is key.

On Evacuations:
Any evacuation plan that removes 80% of 450,000 people from a city is a resounding success.

People have the right to refuse help.

Only the Florida Keys has a well-designed evacuation plan that works but it’s not just because the plan is good. It’s because the area is small, the population is tiny and that population gets to practice the plan once every couple of years.

The bottleneck on most evacuations is not the number of vehicles available. It is the amount of roadway available leading to a safe haven. The roads will become clogged.

Time is key to evacuations. Vehicles will be traveling at 20-40 mph during the evacuation thus requiring much more time to leave. The roads will become clogged.

Plan communication is key.

On Dangers During a Disaster:
Wind removes buildings that provide shelter.

Wind destroys services, which makes it difficult to live in the area if you are not self-sufficient. Emergency kits (72-96 hours) are key to initially surviving immediately after the disaster.

Wind destroys but water kills. Keep the wind out and the structure secure. Run from the water.

On Hurricanes:
Hurricanes are unpredictable. Once you are certain where it is going, it is too late to evacuate. Don’t kill the career of a politician that over-cautiously orders an unneeded evacuation.

Category 1 and weak category 2 can be weathered through vertical evacuation. Run from a category 3 or greater.

The category system is based on the amount of damage one can expect. It is NOT an arbitrary number.

On Disaster Relief:
Lives are sacred. Protect and support them first.

Property can be replaced.

Local officials have jurisdiction during disaster relief. They must request help, they must authorize help.

It is perfectly acceptable to designate a shelter as a temporary with the intent of only using to protect from the storm itself and then move the shelter population to more suitable quarters after the event.

A temporary shelter must be accessible after the event.

There are never enough government staff workers available to perform disaster relief tasks. These things must be done by the affected population and outside relief workers.

On Being Prepared:
Government can ensure your safety in all situations given enough resources.

I can build a home that will withstand a tornado. You cannot afford a home that can withstand a tornado.

People complain about high taxes. Taxes must be raised to reinforce levies.

Being poor raises your risk in life. We are required to help the poor.

Poor people don’t have to be stupid.

If someone understands that they will die, they will find a way to leave.

Plan communication is key.

I reserve the right to add to this post as other thoughts present themselves.