Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lingering Aftermath of Destruction

Let's do the math — from January 12th to September 12 is pretty darn close to 9 months. It was on January 12th that Haiti was knocked to her knees, and here we are 9 months later and she is still on her knees. A fresh report by the Associated Press, complete with photos as evidence, says that "rubble is everywhere in the capital city, and some places look as though they have been flipped upside down or are sinking to the ground."

Needless to say, full recovery hasn't yet happened. And this despite a multitude of nations sending help in the form of manpower and money, equipment and supplies. Nearly 100 million dollars has been spent by USAID and the U.S. Department of Defense just to remove 1.2 million cubic yards of rubble. And from the photographs, it looks like the junk is still in the streets, almost as if nothing has been done. In fact, the estimate is that only 2% of the rubble has been removed. So the place is essential just as it was 9 months ago.

One Haitian presidential candidate says his country is in need of a rubble czar — "everybody is passing the blame on why things haven't happened yet."

One of the problems with government intervention in a disaster zone (well intentioned as it might be), is jurisdiction squabbles. Who is in charge of what? Who's money is going to pay for what? A lot of time, effort and money is lost in the battle to organize a bunch of different agencies to get relief delivered to survivors, round up the criminals who are roaming the streets preying on victims, and start the recovery process.

The lingering aftermath of the disaster in Haiti should stand as a monumental lesson about how difficult it is to clean up after a monster catastrophe.  It should serve to wake us up to our own responsibility to prepare to do as much for ourselves as possible.
  • Prepare to survive on site, if possible
  • Prepare to evacuate, if not possible to stay put
  • Prepare to clean up our own mess and rebuild
  • Prepare to help our neighbors do the same
  • Prepare to get to work on the project whether or not any government ever shows up to "help"

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