Warner Pacific College
June 23, 2011
Throughout the ages, man has attempted to prepare for the wrath of Mother Nature. However, our best preparation as humans can scarcely match the great force of the element with God’s hand behind them.
In the United States our governmental agency in charge of spearheading disaster relief efforts is FEMA or Federal Emergency Management Agency. This agency is in charge of many things. At the forefront of the FEMA mission is to minimize the loss of life and economic damages incurred from a natural disaster. Beyond this creed, development of safety codes, response to need and training of local authorities in how to respond to the needs of civilians are some others.
While FEMA and local agencies can plan and train infinitum, nothing can protect us from our own under estimation of nature, and the scope of a projected disaster. Additionally, planning, codes and training do not necessarily ensure a smooth implementation in the face of chaos and panic.
An example of this statement can be found in the black eye received by FEMA from it’s response to the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. Over the course of the weeks following the hurricane landing of the coast of Louisiana, FEMA director and chiefs failed to communicate with the scores of private and local governmental agencies who stood idly by waiting for permission to bring in needed supplies and evacuate the mounting number of desperate, homeless refugees. Regardless of the plans in place, and the epic disaster at hand, our government failed to execute relief on even the most basic levels. (Homeland Security, 2006)
In the face of natural and man made disaster, perhaps our greatest strength lies in our resiliency as a nation and the kindness of strangers. Time and time again, stories of recovery efforts are threaded with the efforts of grass roots relief.
Churches, humanitarian groups and individuals come. Like the stream of doctors and nurses seen walking to the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001, these men and women rebuild cities and lives. Many times the smaller groups meet needs and aid in survival where larger governmental agencies fail to even see the outstretched hand.
On a personal basis, I have a business client whose entire business portfolio lies in the tornado stricken city of Tuscaloosa, AL. Suffering a complete loss to one of his business locations, the loss of 8 rental homes and the death of tenants, I listened intently to his recount of that terrible week. As I listened, I thanked God to live in a place such as Oregon, mild in weather and climate.
While I have not taken part in weather related natural disasters, I do actively participate in what I consider to be one our greatest man made disasters, that being the epic proportion of substance addicted people, young and old. While this topic may not seem on the surface to rival such things as fishing boats left in the middle of the highway, or a town flattened, it certainly does leave wreckage and havoc at every turn in its path.
Again, where the federal and local governments have failed, small numbers of groups and individuals intervene in the face of need.
Clearly, disaster comes in all forms and there are no race or age lines drawn in those affected. We cannot stop all of the pain and suffering that has, or ever will happen from these problems. But, one individual at a time, we can make a difference.
CNN (2006). Katrina response “A failure of leadership”. Retrieved on June 20, 2011 from