Wednesday, August 31, 2005

 

Katrina observations

While watching the coverage someone compared the aftermath of Katrina to a nuclear detonation. In a way, this is worse and better. A nuclear detonation will be more contained than the disaster area that Katrina has created. A fission bomb would have a kill zone, depending on its size of no more than 15 miles. Katrina has devastated hundreds of miles. A nuclear detonation means fallout and the primary mission would be to get the survivors treated. However, that operation would be contained to a specific geographic area and the likelyhood of survival would increase as you move away from blast area. Because of the huge area covered and the fact that survivors are scattered ovedr this area, Katrina presents a huge challenge in coordination of federal and state disaster relief services.

The flooding of New Orleans is a disaster unlike anything the United States has faced since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. An entire city has been rendered inactive by the flood. I have not heard how many people are still in the city other than the superdome has roughly 10,000 people. All of these people will need to be evacuated because the city is not likely to be drained before the heat and standing water create a health crisis. I imagine that it will be easier to move these people to dry land rather resupply them. There are no firm estimates on when the city will be drained.

It is morbid to say but a nuclear detonation would be easier to manage because you would know with a fairly high degree of certainty the chance of finding suriviors in a certain area. After a hurricane, who knows how many people stuck around in what area? As far as managing this crisis, getting to the people in New Orleans is top priority. People in flooded areas will have to be picked up by boat and helicopter and this promises to be a race against time. I am sure this will rival the biggest airlifts history. We need to get people out of New Orleans before they start to panic. From news reports I have heard of looting and attempted carjackings and this will only get worse potentially putting rescue workers in danger. When I learned how to rescue someone who is drowning I was taught to avoid being grabbed at all costs. A panicking person will do whatever it takes to survive and that includes drowning their rescuer.

DIEGO: An interesting comparison of disasters. There is adequate warning for a hurricane and therefore time to prepare where presumably a bomb detonation is a complete surprise.

In the case of New Orleans I believe the mass flooding was expected at some point. It has been a topic of conversation occasionally in the news as well as among friends as I have visited the city several times. The fact that it is below sea level made the potential for disaster obvious. It seems that a complete evacuation of the city has been suggested (ordered?) and the focus for now should be on saving lives. But soon I think it should be questioned as to weather the city should ever be rebuilt. Private investors can return at their own risk but I'm not sold on using any government funds to help anyone return rather than relocate permanently.

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