I grew up in hurricane country. We are born and mostly live our entire lives suspended in a giant web of infrastructure and support systems. When you're born into it, it's natural take it for granted and treat that as the baseline. But every now and then you have an experience that makes you realize just how far down below the ground really is, how far it is to fall, and how few cables need to fray before people start dropping.
I'm not one of those doomsday preppers who seems to relish preparing for the zombie apocalypse. I think the much more rational approach is to strengthen the web itself so that we don't fall in the first place. But I'm definitely aware how quickly and how badly things can go.
Hurricane Katrina is the canonical example. Over a thousand people died in the middle of a well-developed urban area, in the richest country on Earth, from a disaster that everyone knew was coming some day. The hurricane didn't kill those people. The city and state's complete failure to engineer robust infrastructure did. If that same hurricane had hit an equally populated city elsewhere, the outcome could have been entirely different.
Went out and bought two “life straws.” We have enough food to last a month without infrastructure just by virtue of large pantries, but when the water goes out, it’s gone.
My wife laughed at me, but from my perspective, if infrastructure is down for more than a month, I’m probably toast anyway. ;)
The USGov has failed in the past at an individual response level, but they're really good at compiling resources to help you and your family be independent. In fact, in San Francisco, the Emergency Response mindset for The Big One has shifted (since loma prieta) from "the government will come help you when it happens" to "do everything you can to survive for weeks without government help, when it happens."
So in your case, do more than buy life straws - store many gallons of water somewhere in your house. This can be done really easily and cheaply - save your used water bottles if need be, or just go buy a big giant plastic drum and drop some purifying tablets in it.
Keep bleach and eyedroppers in your house for when that water runs out and you need to refill with questionable water.
https://www.ready.gov/ has shitloads of easily digestible resources to prepare.
Filtering with bacterial (or if necessary, viral) grade filters, and additional chemical treatment (chlorine or iodine) is vastly more efficient.
A backpack filter does double-duty (have a few spare filters and can treat a litre or so of water in a couple of minutes without too much effort. Larger filters can be used (foot-pumped) for larger quantities.
Keep in mind that if the water's out, power may well be too.
Not a prepper but living here several decades I have come to value preparedness. My family has 3 months of food supply and food safe storage for over 200 gal of water, water filters that can filter raw stagnant water to something safe and drinkable, a safe full of guns and ammo, and two years of vegetable seeds in the freezer.
I'm not expecting an EMP or "the big one" or whatever, I'm not really even worried about it. I've just seen how ugly it gets when folks aren't prepared.
Florida gets that kind of rainfall all the time from all the hurricanes! There are water retention ponds built everywhere that are empty all-year-round right up until a hurricane comes. They’re built mainly for hurricanes and heavy storms. This is especially true in the Florida counties with Universities due to the higher population of cough smart people cough. I know that’s inappropriate to say but some city planners design cities on a whim or because “it seemed right”, while others appoint some rather smart local engineers to design it.
As New Orleans was designated an asset strategic to the national military and energy interests, ACOE is in charge of engineering the infrastructure in and around the city. The issue was that at landfall 2005 the project was only 60-90% complete. (Depending on the section.)
Critical to identify the problem correctly when you're searching for mitigations.
Despite starting that project in 1965.
Don't leave out the Army Corps of Engineers (the Federal government). They bore more responsibility than the city for making that infrastructure safe.
The USACoE is a federal organization, but keep in mind that there is no "federal territory" full of "federal people" that floats separate from the states that make up the US. Ultimately, these were human failures and most of the humans who made these errors in judgement likely lived in southern Louisiana.
Also, keep in mind that the USACoE and state and local governments are not as isolated as you might imagine. Funding for projects comes from a mixture of them. Local government is on the hook to maintain engineering projects after they're built. The UASCoE can only build to to the degree that they have funding. Case in point: the levee main project approved in 1965 after Hurricane Betsy was supposed to take 13 years. Katrina struck 40 years later, and the project was still only 60–90% complete. Of course, there were design failures too, but you can imagine that this puts pressure on the engineers to accept a cheaper, inadequate design because some levee is better that no levee at all.
Note also that USACoE and local politicians and employees are real people who know each other and work together. I wouldn't underestimate the impact of social pressure (and outright corruption) for the USACoE to agree to certain things they might not otherwise because powerful people on the local side are pushing them too.
No, people not leaving the city when they had ample time to do so killed them. Individuals need to take responsibility for themselves.
A full city evacuation still takes days, and given the uncertainty and wide possible zone of destruction of a major storm means that both a wide area has to be evacuated, and it's not clear precisely where landfall will be until a day or so immediately prior.
Mass evacuation via buses or rail is far more efficient, but can only be organised effectively by, or at least strongly coordinated with, government.
Transportation, communication, education, and to some degree even culture are also infrastructure.
Not to mention locking everyone in a stadium and threatening to shoot anybody that tried to walk across the bridge. I tried to find a video I saw once of a newscaster live at the superdome begging for the government to let people evacuate, about how conditions at the superdome were fucked.
People generally help eachother during disasters - then the national guard comes in, treats everyone like they're animals, and make everything horrible. A great book that's documented this happening again and again throughout history is "A Paradise Built in Hell" by Rebecca Solnit.
Calling it like it is: this was mostly about white people protecting their personal interests at the expense of black people. Many of the people making those decisions cared more about their property than they did poor black folks. After all, only a couple of generations ago, many of those people owned black people as property.
> Fifty-three percent of deaths 51% were black; and 42% were white. In Orleans Parish, the mortality rate among blacks was 1.7 to 4 times higher than that among whites for all people 18 years old and older.
Specifically, the system of levée districts, wherein the rich area finances proper maintenance of its section of the levee, and the poor vote not to, on their section. As if water and gravity care (though poorer areas tend to be lower and thus floor more)
> in hurricane country
For non native English speakers, the lack of an article between 'in' and 'hurricane' here refers to a part of a country prone to hurricanes