Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 29, 2009

Tragedy + Renewal = Resilience

Filed under: Preparedness and Response,Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on August 29, 2009

In today’s weekly message the President focuses on Gulf Coast recovery.  He concludes his remarks with attention to what readers of  The Watch may recognize as all-risk readiness and resilience.

On this anniversary, we are focused on the threat from hurricanes. But we must also be prepared for a broad range of dangers – from wildfires and earthquakes, to terrorist attacks and pandemic disease. In particular, my Administration is working aggressively with state and local governments – and with partners around the world – to prepare for the risk posed by the H1N1 virus.  To learn more about the simple steps that you can take to keep you and your family safe from all of these dangers, please visit www.ready.gov.

So on this day, we commemorate a tragedy that befell our people. But we also remember that with every tragedy comes the chance of renewal. It is a quintessentially American notion – that adversity can give birth to hope, and that the lessons of the past hold the key to a better future. From the streets of New Orleans to the Mississippi Coast, folks are beginning the next chapter in their American stories. And together, we can ensure that the legacy of a terrible storm is a country that is safer and more prepared for the challenges that may come. Thank you

Earlier this week when I began researching the progress of recovery, I anticipated taking a rather negative angle.  I was surprised by the strong  evidence of renewal and, yes, resilience.

It is certainly possible — easy — to find contrary evidence.  But while I began with a negative bias, the predominance of what I found challenged that bias. (See collection of links in Friday’s post.)

In a comment on what was posted yesterday, William R. Cumming reasonably notes that New Orleans will be flooded again. No less than Craig Fugate has said Katrina could have been much worse.   A future hurricane — and a future levee breach — will certainly be worse than four years ago.

It should be possible to raise questions of return-on-investment without prompting accusations of philistinism or worse.  It is the question I intended to raise when I started the week.

But as wildfire threatens the suburbs of Los Angeles, and another hurricane swirls through the Atlantic, and H1N1 scurries across the planet it is also reasonable to recognize how we all abide on the edge of disaster. 

And it is worth celebrating the resilience of  human spirit wherever we find it.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

August 29, 2009 @ 11:58 am

Yes hope does spring eternal. As my comments on Katrina reveal, not just Mother Nature but the USACOE will strike again. ALL LEVEES EVENTUALLY FAIL–either by overflow [exceedence of the design interval] or by aging and improper maintenance! You pays the taxpayers money and you take your picks!

More important is that again the President clearly has not been briefed on the distinctions between Emergency Public Information (including PARs and PADS–Protective action recommendations and decisions) and the normal Public Affairs propaganda routine of the Executive Branch (some would call it “SPIN”)! Instead of sending citizens to
http://www.ready.Gov (the DHS site) he should have had citizens go directly to http://www.flu.gov! Hey sometimes even large departments try and out manuver each other. It is a one of the very first principles of crisis management and emergency management that expertise is understood for what it can provide. Time to grow up OBAMA Administration. By the way maybe HLSWatch.com is read by the White House and HHS. Shortly after posting the comment that the Japanese Government was going to subsidize the full costs of hospital expenses for the flu (assume above some normal base) there was a rather confused White House press release announcing the same policy for US!

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 30, 2009 @ 12:01 pm

Hey! White House who has the “rumor control” function for the Swine Flu? Many romors now in circulation and won’t spread them any more here. But some are quite distressing if fact! Just one hint of one!
Gender differentiation and impacts by the virus!

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