Photo: Wikipedia Commons
Hurricane Sandy demonstrated how incredibly fragile the thin veneer of civilization really is. Many of the hardest hit areas along the Jersey shore and the coast of Long Island quickly descended into a state of anarchy.
Let’s rewind back to before the storm hit and say you are a married couple who has a small child and a pet. Most people will do a version of the following:
- You go to the store for flashlights, batteries and bottles of water.
- You also stock up on Power Bars, toilet paper and dog food.
- You pick up some extra food.
- You pick up a collection of movies to keep your child entertained during the storm.
- You charge your cell phones and every other gadget you own.
- You fill all of your bathtubs with water.
- You talk to your child about what to expect during the storm.
With your preparations made, you wait for the storm to come. When it does, you are content for the first few hours, at least for part of a day. That is until the power goes off.
The next thing to go out is cell phone communication. So, no calls out from your recently-charged phone. You must rely on your land-line phone. That is if you still have one. A lot of people are opting to turn off their land line phones and just keep a cell phone.
You find you can use water from the bathtub to fill the toilet. That allows you to flush and keep everyone in a better mood (because there’s no smell).
How about the iPad? Welcome to cloud computing. The internet’s down so you have no access to news or current information.
Fast forward two days. You are one of the lucky ones and had no storm damage. However, you still have no electricity, no heat, no TV, no internet and no cell phone coverage. And the two days worth of food you keep around the house is nearly gone. You’re used to going to the store several times a week and right now that is starting to seem like it was a bad idea.
Fast forward to the start of the third day. Your child is hungry, so you decide to venture beyond your neighborhood and look for supplies. As you get nearer to the shopping area, you see the long lines of people and the tempers flying. The question on everyone’s mind is where is the government? Why aren’t they delivering food and water to us?
The truth of the matter is the government does not have the ability to supply food and water to everyone in a major disaster. And it is unrealistic for you to think so.
For Hurricane Sandy, FEMA had a “lean forward” strategy that called for advanced staging of supplies for emergency distribution. However, that failed to live up to its billing in the immediate aftermath of the storm. This is strangely reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina.
Folks, you must realize that you are on your own after a disaster. You must make preparations for your family because most likely, help will never arrive. Or it will arrive too late.
Don’t expect to sit back and be taken care of after a major disaster. The responsibility to take care of your family is on you.