Swickard column: It's not if, it's when

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.   Watching the Hurricane Harvey disaster in Texas causes me to wonder why it came as such a surprise. Yes, it was stronger than had hit for many years. And the way it hit caused feet of water instead of just inches.
            Still, that is hurricane alley and there are many examples of hurricanes devastating the area with storm surge water or just buckets and buckets of rain. What I really wonder is why many people didn’t have any disaster supplies set aside.
            Supplies such as food, water and batteries are easy to store in case of a hurricane. And again, they are in hurricane alley.
            I’m not talking about should they leave or not from where they live. That is their minute by minute decision based on how the storm is tracking and how much risk they care to take. But that is not my central concern.
            Rather, my concern is that so many people “flooded” the stores ahead of the storm trying to get food and water with which to ride out the storm in their own houses. Why were they just then trying to get supplies?
            They know they are in a hurricane zone. Yet hours before the landfall of the big storm people were just then starting to go to stores looking for water and food. Why were they not prepared already?
            Many hurricanes have pounded their area in the past. Example: A Category 4 hurricane hit Galveston, Texas, on September 8, 1900 causing perhaps ten thousand deaths. Back then there were no systems in place to warn the residents.
            Today we have nonstop weather reports that warn of approaching storms. Yes, sometimes they are wrong but if people prepare with food and water along with batteries for radios and flashlights, they are not out that much money. Why not already be prepared?
            But the same could be said for any place in our country. A disaster will happen wherever you are in some form like in New Mexico during a very cold spell in February 2011. There was no electricity for days. Some people had a very hard time because they had not prepared.
            Unfortunately, the answer often is that some people never prepare. They assume the electricity will always work.
            Likewise, the same is true for people traveling in remote areas of our state who do not bring water, food and blankets. Cars will break down. Sometimes there is no cell service. Sad to say at that point there is going to be some suffering people.
            We must prepare in case of disaster. How? We need to have at least a week of food, water and supplies for ourselves and family plus what we will give to neighbors who didn’t prepare.
            Why would we give to our neighbors? Well, for one thing the lights will come back on so you don’t want to deny your neighbors who will remember your wonderful charity or how they were treated poorly.
            Again, you have been warned to prepare.