Thursday, September 08, 2005

Thoughts on Katrina

I've avoided posting anything about this subject for some time, but really need to talk about it, rehash both the good and the bad that is coming from it. I work in the Transportation department for my company. Technically, I administer databases, generate reports and act as an administrative assistant for my supervisor, among other things. My background has little to do with my current position, but I find that I enjoy this more than I enjoyed what I was trained to do. I also help our Transporation suppliers with rate negotiations and problem solving. We don't have many suppliers in the disaster area, but my carriers do. They've been sending me pictures and updates from their employees. For me, these are more moving than the pictures of people crying on the news. For me, these pictures show that the people who will be needed to bring the supplies won't be able to. Their trucks are under water. The roads are under water. The goods waiting to be shipped in their terminals have been ruined, or at the very least, severely damaged. It is good that donation stations have been established. The Red Cross, Google, Amazon are responding to the needs of those affected, whether physically or emotionally. Dozens of others are as well. A lovely woman who already owned the domain has turned her web designer business homepage into a means of helping everyone find answers. There was no doubt in my that the people of this country would jump in and help. After all, when the people of Iraq were looking for relief from their dictator, we went in. When the Tsnami victims needed help, we pledged money as a country and as individuals. When the towers in New York fell, we continued to support our economy in the best ways we knew how. In the face of adversary, Americans stand firm and fight back. Our methods differ, but the motiviation remains the same. What does disturb me about the situation is the number of people who simply disregarded common sense and stayed. They were told to evacute. It was mandatory. The warnings were ignored. A bad situation was made worse by people who did not listen to common sense. Why didn't the city step in and help out? Could they not have used school buses and other forms of public transportation? The problem has been compounded by disease and filth. The means of getting people out or getting others have been destroyed. The long terms effects are much bigger than whatever pundit currently talking on the television really knows. Not only have fleets of trucks been destoryed, those that remain will have to cope with regular loads and with disaster relief loads. The truckload industry is already suffering from a shortage of drivers and regulations that severely restrict driving time. Add the work related to rebuilding this region and the problems multiply further. When the "Runaway Bride" was found, she was sued by the city for the tens of thousands of dollars that the search incurred. Should the people who stayed in the face of a mandatory evacuation be charged for their rescue? If I lived anywhere near this area, I'd be thinking two thing about my future. Where should I live and what company can I work for? How much industry was destroyed? How many companies will be forced to fire people because the business they worked for no longer exists? An even bigger question is insurance. Most property owners will have it and cash in on the lottery that insurance really is. Big picture wise, though, if someone doesn't want to stay, they may be forced to because of their insurance company. A member of my family lost their home and possessions to fire (none of them were in the house at the time.) They wanted to rebuild the house differently than it had been done originally, but in equal or greater value. The insurance company demanded that it be rebuild exactly as before. If you are a home owner, lost your house, decide to move away, it is very possible that you could be "stuck" there because of something as simple as insurance that is supposed to protect you. What options do these people have? The complexitity of the problem has only begun to surface. Traditional answers are not going to work in the face of this disaster. Creative solutions will be required. I know we have the right people in this country to provide them.

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