Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Coldly effective response

John Tierney in today's New York Times writes about what a real hurricane disaster response strategy looks like. Emphasis added by me: --- "...Mr. Bush made a lot of mistakes last week, but most of his critics are making an even bigger one now by obsessing about what he said and did. We can learn more by listening to men like Jim Judkins, particularly when he explains the Magic Marker method of disaster preparedness. "Mr. Judkins is one of the officials in charge of evacuating the Hampton Roads region around Newport News, Va. These coastal communities, unlike New Orleans, are not below sea level, but they're much better prepared for a hurricane. Officials have plans to run school buses and borrow other buses to evacuate those without cars, and they keep registries of the people who need special help. "Instead of relying on a "Good Samaritan" policy - the fantasy in New Orleans that everyone would take care of the neighbors - the Virginia rescue workers go door to door. If people resist the plea to leave, Mr. Judkins told The Daily Press in Newport News, rescue workers give them Magic Markers and ask them to write their Social Security numbers on their body parts so they can be identified. "'It's cold, but it's effective,' Mr. Judkins explained. "That simple strategy could have persuaded hundreds of people to save their own lives in New Orleans. What the city [NOLA] needed most was coldly effective local leaders, not a president in Washington who could feel their pain. It's the same lesson we should have learned from Sept. 11 and other disasters, yet both liberals and conservatives keep ignoring it."