Hurricane Rita in the Gulf of Mexico during the historic 2005 season
Here we are on June 1, the official start to the Atlantic hurricane season. Much has already been said about how “slow” it is likely to be so I am not going to delve in to that. We all know, kind of like John Calipari at Kentucky basketball, that it only takes one to ruin your perfect season. Be ready for anything or be prepared to lose everything. It’s that simple.
Ten years ago we were about to embark on a perilous journey that no one was ready for, not even close. The 2005 hurricane season was the most destructive and one of the deadliest in American history. Hard to believe that a decade has already passed.
What have we learned since the likes of Katrina, Rita, Wilma? Those were the big three that stood out during the historic ’05 season, all of them becoming category five hurricanes at some point in their infamous lives.
I am going to be a pessimist here and say that we have learned very little. The evidence? Massive rebuilding along the same coastline that was all but wiped out 10 years ago. In many cases, more expensive property has gone up in the wake of the hurricanes, inviting an even larger price tag to replace yet again after the next one. And so it goes.
Now, more than a quarter of a generation later, more people than ever are living in harm’s way. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the hurricanes have become more legend than year-to-year threat. This has almost certainly created a silent but very real problem for emergency managers and those who would respond to even a singular major hurricane event. Look at Sandy just three years ago come late October. The Mid-Atlantic region was devastated and Sandy was nowhere close to the intensity of Katrina, Rita or Wilma at landfall. The system was overwhelmed and far too many people lost their lives. Lack of experience more than likely played a key role. We react on what we know, not what we are told. People were told to evacuate but they didn’t know the cost of staying. For those who survived, they do now.
We have to look at each hurricane season as an opportunity, an opportunity to finally get it right. It is time to put the lessons learned from a season like 2005 to good use. Learn what you can about your local hurricane history. Read books, find videos online (I know of a few hint hint) and educate your self and your family. Hurricanes are not scary. Being woefully unprepared is scary. Take the fear and anxiety out by knowing the enemy. Once you do that, you can better formulate a plan to combat that enemy. The goal is not to win but to persevere and survive. Protect what you can of your property and live to tell the story of how you dealt with hurricane-X with minimal problems. Even if another Katrina comes your way and you are faced with losing your entire home, there are ways to mitigate the loss and make it far easier to bounce back, probably stronger than before.
Or, you can do nothing. Sit back and hope, hope that nothing with a name on it comes your way. If it does, you can hope that it won’t be too bad. If it is, you can hope that you have enough food and water to last for maybe 10 days or more. If you don’t, you can hope that FEMA or other relief organization swoops in to save you. While you’re at it, hope for a good hair day so that when TIME Magazine takes your picture as you stand in line waiting for one serving of food and a drink of water, that you at least don’t look like a victim.
Hope is not a planning tool. Be hurricane prepared.
M. Sudduth 9:00 AM ET June 1