|Joys of Geography
||[Sep. 2nd, 2005|02:53 pm]
I live in the USA and I rather like it here. The USA is a country of natrual disasters. The cold truth is they happen all the time in this country. There are big ones like what we are currently seeing and there are little ones that never make the international news like the wildfires out west. I've mostly lived in the east and south of the country with a nice stint of a decade or so in the Southwest which I have learned to love. I've seen my share of natural disasters. Ask anyone from the US and they can tell you a story or two about Mother Nature showing some muscle.
I was talking to kotszok on msn the other day about the situation down in New Orleans and since she lives in Northern Europe and she brought home to me how little we think of the usual dangers of living here. Europe has the blessings of an extremely fortunate location on the planet's surface. The region is stable, there is very little geologic activity, and there are relatively few harsh weather phenomina that they have to worry about. It is no wonder the region has had human habitation for several million years.
To explain the US as a whole would be extremely difficult, but for some perspective I'm going to give it a shot. It will help explain my and several other American's views on the situation in New Orleans a little better. We think it is a national disgrace for a large number of reasons.
( Several natural disasters common to the USA by regionCollapse )
Now, in New Orleans there are several factors at work that made things far far worse. Any one of these things would complicate the situation. Since all of these are present the city was a systems engineering nightmare when it comes to a disaster like this.
( First factorCollapse )
( Second factorCollapse )
( Third FactorCollapse )
( Fourth factorCollapse )
We Americans have lots of natural disasters. We give a lot of money, goods, and time to charities too. One reason why we are so generous is because it really isn't hard for us to see how one day we may be the one in need. We expect people to be at their best in a disaster because that is what we hope we would be in their place. Outside of New Orleans, we are completely outraged that anyone would fire upon relief efforts. To most of us that is shocking and completely mind boggling. nepenthene actually put a fairly insightful perspective on it in her post that actually explains quite a bit. It doesn't make the behaviour any better, but any insight is helpful for figuring out how to calm things.
We know that that could have been us. We are by and large more then happy to help out in this kind of situation, we just need to know when, where and how. There has been an outflow of public support from all over from people opening up their homes to school districts reopening closed schools to stream lined college admissions to people simply carting hot meals to refugee centers. With something as huge as this, private effort alone won't do enough. The governmental authorities need to take charge and do what needs to be done without further snipping at each other.
This is a national disgrace because it is simply such a mess and it should not be. We know how to organize a rescue, relief and rebuilding effort. I have no idea why we are doing such a poor job of it, but like everyone else, I'm not happy about it.