Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Scope We Do Not Understand

In the United States of America we were devastated on 9-11 when the world trade center buildings were struck by terrorists and came crashing to the ground ending the lives of around 3 thousand people. This was one of the most horrific scenes we had ever seen, and one of the most deadly on our soil ever. Then came hurricane Katrina and we lost another 1500 or so in Louisanna and Mississippi. Thousands more were displaced from their homes. A disaster, yes.

However, In other countries when natural or man-made disasters occur the death toll often rises much higher, much faster. In China right now 15,000 have been confirmed dead following a massive earthquake. Another 40,000 are buried under the rubble. Many of those are likely to be confirmed dead in the days following.

In Burma the International Red Cross is estimating a death toll between 68 and 127 thousand. What!? To put that into perspective for you that is more than 42 times the death toll of the attacks on 9-11.

What causes the death toll to rise so dramatically. I can pinpoint a couple factors. First is the concentration of population. With more people in the area you are no doubt going to have a higher casualty rate.

Second is wealth. In very poor areas you don't have warning systems on television and radio blaring instructions for you to take cover. If you did you wouldn't have a basement in which to take cover. You can forget about evacuation because there are so few roads in and out of these places, and the number of individuals owning vehicles is very slim. When it comes time for rescue efforts, there are fewer helicopters, boats, generators for light, equipment.. etc to enhance the ability of the volunteers, military or other rescue staff.

In this country we simply do not understand magnatude of these disasters. You can say what you will about how our government mismanaged the response to Katrina, however 90 percent of those in the area were evacuated. Something not possible in other countries. There was warning of the impending threat on television and radio. Something not available in many countries.

Were there mistakes, sure. Should "Brownie" have lost his job, not for me to decide. I can say however, that had this been another country many more would likely have lost their lives. For that I am thankful.

1 comment:

Renaissance Guy said...

Yes, you are right. Poverty isn't just about the lack of means to live well day-to-day. It can also mean being unable to survive disasters.

Thanks for pointing out that our disaster response system is relatively excellent. It's so easy for people to condemn our country from within.

One more point. We in the United States don't just "happen" to be wealthy. It's largely a result of smart choices our ancestors made. God bless them.