Monday, March 31, 2008


Can it be that only bloggers push for better disaster planning?

by Larry Geller

Holy Katrina! Now they are planning?
--Hunter Bishop
As everyone may know, on the Big Island Kilauea is spewing not only rocks, but fine powdery glass and sulfur dioxide gas. It's what volcanoes do sometimes. The news tells us that these toxic emanations are being carried away by the trade winds. But are they?

Hunter Bishop writes in What disaster planning? about this and more. Or less, maybe I should say. The Big Island may be as unprepared as we are here in Oahu. Which is odd, given that there's a live volcano right in the middle of the place and they have recently had a damaging earthquake. You'd think they'd wake up.

Hunter is concerned about ash in catchment tanks and the effects of acid rain. He complains that even in Harry Kim land, there seems to be a lack of disaster preparedness and planning (this is a short snippet, please read the whole article):

Holy Katrina! Now they are planning?

Evacuation notification plans could have been written already, the protocols shared with communities and perhaps even tested. But no, somebody will be going "door-to-door, if necessary." Why are we still figuring this out?

And about that evacuation. Would it be mandatory? Where would people go? How would they get there? How long would they stay? At what cost? Who pays? What about the infirm? People's pets? Livestock?

What about the security of people’s homes from the threat of looting in an evacuated area? Are there plans to call in the National Guard? Is the guard in fact available? Or is it too busy with Iraq?

Maybe you think I’m being alarmist but shouldn’t someone start thinking aloud about the answers to these questions before they are raised in the heat of a dire emergency? Or will everybody be on their own?

It’s time Mayor Kim leveled with residents about disaster emergency plans, whether we have them or not. And it’s time to stop the paternalistic patter and to partner with communities in developing these plans and making them public before they are needed in order to avoid unnecessary panic, anxiety and confusion in the event of a real disaster.

I've written about the lack of disaster planning including the troubling weakness in our system of medical care. With doctors in short supply in many specialties in rural areas, a disaster could be, well, a disaster. Doug Carlson holds forth on disaster planning and related topics at Citizens Helping Officials Respond to Emergencies.

I'll close by asking if you know where your designated shelter is, and who has the keys to let you in? Does your condo have a plan for elderly residents and others with mobility problems? Have you ever been handed an evacuation plan?

Why is it that mostly bloggers are asking these questions? And of course, when do we get answers? Nah, they don't care about us.

But more important, they don't care about you either.


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