Jack wrote this in August, 2005:
I see on one of the threads that another major hurricane’s stalking around in the Gulf of Mexico …. threatening New Orleans at the moment. Brings to mind a lot of strange memories.
One of my careers of this lifetime was spent as State Floodplain Manager for New Mexico… wore another hat with it toward the end, Emergency Management Coordinator with a bit of disaster preparedness thrown in. I was paid on annual grants to the State by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Spent a lot of time off in Emmitsburg, MD, New Orleans, Galveston, Oklahoma City, etc.
I suppose the thing that impressed me most during those years was how thoroughly we’ve boxed ourselves in with regards to natural disasters. The Gulf Coast filled with people, then pumped out all the petroleum from underneath, so’s to cause the entire region to subside beneath the waves, if not kept out by the intervention of man. The last time I looked the San Jacinto Monument was threatened. From the top of that spire you could look around and see nothing but submerged streets that used to be high and dry.
In riverine areas the erosion of banks is undercutting whole neighborhoods inland along rivers almost everywhere if they have any flow. In California, they’ve built so heavily in wildfire, mudslide and earthquake areas that every tremor assures an enormous amount of damage.
And on and on.
During those sessions at the National Emergency Management Training Center, Emmitsburg, MD, guys in the same job I was in from all the States gathered a week or two at a time. Evenings we used to sing an old Kingston Trio song:
THE KINGSTON TRIO – “The Merry Minuet”
They’re rioting in Africa.
They’re starving in Spain.
There’s hurricanes in Florida
And Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls.
The French hate the Germans.
The Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs.
South Africans hate the Dutch
And I don’t like anybody very much!
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man’s been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud.
And we know for certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off
And we will all be blown away.
They’re rioting in Africa.
There’s strife in Iran.
What nature doesn’t do to us
Will be done by our fellow man.
I suppose that just about says it all, except nature doesn’t do it, precisely. We do it to ourselves. We build in subsidence areas, riverine flooding areas, earthquake areas, coastal hurricane areas, mudslide and wildfire areas, and we feel fairly put out when it floods, shakes, slides, burns.
But there’s always the president to declare it a disaster, throw in a river of taxpayer money so we can build again in the same location.
Until next time.