Irene has not yet made landfall and this article may well be premature. While I hope that Irene decides to veer to the east and avoid landfall the models are increasingly showing that to be an unlikely event.

A category 2 or 3 hurricane Irene is not to be dismissed. The damage could well be very serious indeed. While Hurricanes are far from an unknown  on the East Coast, serious ones are thankfully rare visitors.

My wife is from the Gulf region, when Katrina hit we were a couple of thousand miles away. The days after Katrina were sleepless ones. News of friends and family was impossible to get. Most of the region was without power, and the communication infrastructure had collapsed. What little information we could get was on the internet. A couple of nodes had survived the onslaught and continued to be active.

New Orleans was the city that CNN and all of the other news people focused on, but if you look at a map of the region you will see that north of New Orleans is Lake Ponchartrain, and then the city of Slidell. For days there was no mention about Slidell. The only data we had were some NOAA photographs taken by plane.

The good news that trickled in over the next ctwin-spans-between-slidell-and-new-orleans.jpgouple of weeks was that we had lost no family members. They were scattered across several states, but they were alive. Homes lost, possessions lost, but they had survived.

Over the following weeks and months a new and ugly picture began to emerge. The government response, FEMA moved from helper to hinderer. What you saw on the TV was not reality. Katrina soon became yesterdays news, and few outside of the Gulf region understand the aftermath. Once something becomes yesterdays news, the government forgets all about it!

Of course New Orleans and the surrounding area do not have much in the way of political clout.

Irene on the other hand is set to upset a very political area. One has to wonder if disaster strikes, will the response by FEMA and the other agencies be somewhat different?

I’ll bet that the lobbyists are hard at work right now. Oh the potential for making hay is so rich. Maybe a $50 million dollar contract to support a local politicians Sand Bag company? A $50 million grant to Monsanto to develop Hurricane proof GMO crops. A $50 million grant to Aquabounty to hurricane proof their Franken-salmon growing operation. The long term potential is huge.

You can also bet your vote that FEMA will be Johnny On The Spot. No stinking MRE’s, full door to door service of five star food. The chances are that they have already obtained the services of Robert Irvine to co-ordinate Food Mission Impossible!

Simon Barrett

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