Not Quite Ready for the Worst?

Creative Commons photo by Kakela

Since the dawn of civilization, humanity has felt what they could only describe as the wrath of God, challenging its survival and ability to thrive.

This wrath came in the form of devastating events such as natural disasters, disease and various unforeseen tragedies. Although these historical events have devastated various environments and populations of people, many civilizations and environments have managed to survive amidst the chaos, solely based on their ability to adapt.

As human civilizations have continued to endure, infrastructure began to weave its way into society and governments continued to mature and reduce inefficiencies, the destruction of natural events reduced. In turn, mankind began predicting tragedies and developing necessary prevention tactics.

Although we feel more capable to prevent devastation, are we as prepared as we think? When analyzing the history of American natural disasters and the current events of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, the answer is unclear.

From the Dust Bowl to New Orleans to the current events in Florida, many concerning issues have arisen regarding the effectiveness of government response and emergency aid. Additionally, the government’s ability to find solutions for the economic and political aftermath of the destruction has also been questioned. Are these concerns warranted?

When looking back at the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, one of the leading contributors to the Great Depression, many historians believe that the American government was ill-equipped to handle the economic devastation of the natural event, leading to the near destruction of the nation. This led to massive unemployment, ecological and agricultural devastation, lack of resources and several other overwhelming factors.

Fast forward to Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest hurricanes to hit American soil, we still find remnants of the aftermath plaguing Louisiana 12 years later. With the controversy surrounding the federal government’s inability to promptly respond, in addition to the countless communities still recovering, many believe that more could have been done to assist the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

In the midst of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, cities and towns are without resources, subject to the destruction of their homes, while many are continuing to lose their lives.  Although the situation seems grim, one hopes the response of FEMA and the military will be more prompt and efficient this time around.

As the dust settles and more time has passed, we will be able to draw a clearer verdict on whether or not the effectiveness of the federal government’s ability to respond to this national emergency has improved. The difference between learning from the government’s lack of preparedness in the past to preparing for the future disasters, is simply life or death.

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