Thoughts on Hurricane Harvey
By James C. Jones, EMT/CHCM
While most people prefer to think of this most recent disaster as a singular event that Houston and America will recover from, the reality is quite different. The billions of dollars that must go to rebuilding Houston may look like a boon to the construction industry and replacing the millions of vehicles and other items destroyed will generate some sales and jobs in the short term this is false economy. All of the wealth and labor that will now be expended on rebuilding what was destroyed will be unavailable for other critical needs. Rebuilding hundreds of thousands of homes in Houston is not building hundreds of thousands of homes for others.
Funds to rebuild Houston will have to come from progress and proactive programs such as infrastructure improvements, the maintenance of bridges, dams, roads and flood control systems in other regions. Resources will have to come from security, defense and emergency preparedness. The hundreds of billions now spent on security and the endless war after the 9/11 attacks is not helping the poor or building safer cities. The losses from Hurricane Katrina reduced the defenses in other cities. Each disaster weakens our capacity to respond to the next disaster and disasters are happening with increasing frequency and severity.
Hurricane Harvey also demonstrated on a small scale the domino affect of disasters. The flooding caused sewage systems, water pumping systems, hospital generators failed, explosions and fires caused by failed systems could not be accessed by fire and police. The temporary shutdown of a few refineries impacting the entire country. Each new disaster makes the next disaster more probable and/or more costly. The politicians and the media work overtime to paint a picture of progress and security, but all of the trends are downward. Every civil disorder, every economic decline, every terrorist act, every flood, every storm, ever wildfire, every man-made disaster makes us poorer, weaker, and more vulnerable to the next and even worse event.
Eventually this chain reaction will lead to a multi-faceted apocalyptic situation. This may even be hard to recognize until our children living in a ruined and subjugated world look back. This process of multiple and increasing disasters leading to more decline and vulnerability is a worldwide phenomenon. We can add revolutions, epidemics, famines, wars and water shortages to the spiral in other parts of the world. These categories of disaster have not yet been added to America’s disaster spiral. The fact is that the world is broke and civilization is in a death spiral that it refuses to recognize. In the words of George Orwell “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”. The spiral is irreversible, but individuals and groups can save lives, protect freedoms and preserve human values and ideals through self-reliance and survival concepts and practices.
If liberty means anything it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”
~ George Orwell