Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Friday, September 02, 2005

An assessment of emergency preparedness

Judging from CNN's coverage, you might think there were massive goof-ups everywhere. Here is a different perspective:

New Orleans waited too late to evacuate, and doesn't seem to have had a very good plan for helping people without cars escape the city. The Superdome has been a nightmare, with insufficient supplies or facilities, though at least it's been a living nightmare.

But many commentators have looked at the images of people without food, water, or much of anything and announced that this shouldn't be happening in America -- as if we enjoy some sort of supernatural immunity to natural disaster, or some sort of superhuman ability to make things better.

It doesn't work that way.
He continues with an admonition that individuals prepare on their own:

...FEMA and the Red Cross recommend that you stockpile enough emergency supplies to get through at least a week without food, water, or electricity [because] it generally takes at least that long after a major disaster to get aid flowing. Roads are blocked, bridges are down, power plants -- and lines -- are wrecked, and communications are interrupted. For at least a week (and you're much better off to be prepared for two) you may be on your own.

It's too late for the people affected by Hurricane Katrina to do anything about that now. But it's not too late for the rest of us. Don't pretend you'll never need to be prepared for a disaster. Prepare, and hope that you never need to use it.
The most serious natural disasters we are likely to face in our area are snow and ice storms, power outages, and tornados. In our home we have followed this advice for decades. Our major concern is that we feel somewhat trapped in the peninsula of Southwestern Ontario. Should we want to evacuate the area, we probably would not be able to do so.
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