Shelter from the storm

Hurricane Katrina’s destructive effects have left us speechless, but we’ll be talking about it for as long as we live. Those authorities who were forewarned repeatedly about this impending catastrophe but who failed to take the prescribed precautionary measures, or who were prevented from doing so, will hear interminable criticism from unforgiving future generations. As one wag put it, “In this case we can’t just lock the barn after the horse has been stolen. Even the barn is gone”. We’ve been taught a lesson though. It can happen here. And this isn’t the first time Mother Nature showed us her fury. The devastating Hurricane of ‘38 came out of the blue and many of us in the Northeast heard the word “hurricane” for the very first time during those terrifying hours. But Katrina was different. For those without shelter or the wherewithal to flee, things will never be the same. Sadly.

It should never be the same in the Gulf States either. Every conceivable measure must be taken to guarantee the survival of those exposed to natural disasters. Evacuation is the surest way to preserve lives, and where evacuation is not possible, shelters must be made available. There can be no excuse now. Instead of spending a billion dollars a day killing people in foreign lands, why not use that money to preserve lives and property in our own country?
• Katrina’s tide could not have been stemmed by the deteriorated levees and authorities at every level knew it in advance. The very highest authorities, however, had their own priorities. You can be sure that this particular barn will be locked post haste.
• Evacuation measures? Easy. Every piece of government-owned rolling stock, along with those countless school buses, must be programmed to take wing with preassigned passengers. [Speaking of taking wing, many years ago, the U.S. Naval Flight Program in Pensacola had an emergency “flyaway” program in effect during hurricane seasons. Solo pilots were each assigned an SNJ, and were told to follow a flight leader to safety. Sophisticated weather forecasting methods had not been perfected back then and the “flyaway” was a sudden and surprising event. But it was still a simple and effective measure because the Navy was prepared. With several days notice the Gulf States could easily undertake a successful flyaway-type evacuation.]
• Shelters? There are storm-proof buildings throughout the entire area. During World War II, and even during the Cold War, every such building was a designated air raid shelter. We were thoroughly prepared for imagined events back then, and now we must prepare ourselves for events that are real rather than imagined.
• Click on to our “Method of Operation” page again. Did you notice that the four-story Administration Building between the two operating storage and retrieval sections has been designated as an Emergency Civil Defense Shelter? Most of our facilities will be built at the water’s edge, of course, and must be designed to withstand hurricane and earthquake stresses. It was only natural for us to anticipate the secondary use of these structures as Civil Defense Structures. It might be well to add at this point that the condensed configuration of this racking structure prevents movement and displacement of the slotted containers stored within the structure. This safety feature is not available in exposed conventional container terminals, and it’s just one more benefit we have to offer. Something to think about.