Letter Re: Unintended Consequences of a Failure of Basic Services in a Disaster

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Mr. Rawles:

I have maintained that next to water, food, medicine, and defense; waste disposal is going to be a BIG unexpected problem if and when any prolonged interruption of services occur after 9/11 part 2 or some other calamity eventually happens.
 
One of the reasons New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) is not rebounding is that garbage that piled up after Katrina is still rotting in the streets.
 
People that I have seen at my place of work from that area say that less than 5000 people showed up for Mardi-Gras this year because of the stench of rotting garbage and even corpses of dead animals that are still in the streets, waterways, and sewers. Many that showed up stayed a day and left Ricky-Tick because the air quality was so bad.
 
In my own back yard, we had no garbage pick up for nearly 10 days after hurricane Rita. People from other areas began to trespass dumping their waste in our area or putting it in the burn pile. The president of the homeowners' association was notified and went to the dumpsters and burn pile and put up a chain link fence and notice in order to secure the area.
 
We tried calling the Sheriff's department, but they would not respond to anything that was not considered "life threatening." I can only imagine what would have happened if things had gone on for several more weeks, months, or if the entire State had been affected.
 
Most Americans take waste disposal for granted with curbside garbage pick-up, flush toilets, and sink disposal systems. Where I live, we have none of these "luxuries" and they can be a hassle at times.
 
During inclement weather, taking the trash to the dumpster is a hassle. Kitchen scraps have to be taken to the compost pile, and wastewater either goes to the septic system if it is blackwater, and to a cache for reuse if it is greywater. The septic tank has to be babied, and you have to be very careful what you pour down the sink, since the water is reused.
 
One of the big problem during Katrina was that during the flooding, with waters up to 20 feet high, all the household chemicals that were typically stored under the sink contaminated the entire city and will never biodegrade. (At least not in our lifetimes.)
 
Again, I bring these issues up because most people do not consider them a high priority. In a situation where the service infrastructure fails, it is not going to be a matter of how your 401(k) is invested or how many guns you own. It is going to be a matter of how well you can deal with seemingly insignificant things like what to do with your own body waste.- RJL 

Letter Re: Unintended Consequences of a Failure of Basic Services in a Disaster

Mr. Rawles:

I have maintained that next to water, food, medicine, and defense; waste disposal is going to be a BIG unexpected problem if and when any prolonged interruption of services occur after 9/11 part 2 or some other calamity eventually happens.
 
One of the reasons New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) is not rebounding is that garbage that piled up after Katrina is still rotting in the streets.
 
People that I have seen at my place of work from that area say that less than 5000 people showed up for Mardi-Gras this year because of the stench of rotting garbage and even corpses of dead animals that are still in the streets, waterways, and sewers. Many that showed up stayed a day and left Ricky-Tick because the air quality was so bad.
 
In my own back yard, we had no garbage pick up for nearly 10 days after hurricane Rita. People from other areas began to trespass dumping their waste in our area or putting it in the burn pile. The president of the homeowners' association was notified and went to the dumpsters and burn pile and put up a chain link fence and notice in order to secure the area.
 
We tried calling the Sheriff's department, but they would not respond to anything that was not considered "life threatening." I can only imagine what would have happened if things had gone on for several more weeks, months, or if the entire State had been affected.
 
Most Americans take waste disposal for granted with curbside garbage pick-up, flush toilets, and sink disposal systems. Where I live, we have none of these "luxuries" and they can be a hassle at times.
 
During inclement weather, taking the trash to the dumpster is a hassle. Kitchen scraps have to be taken to the compost pile, and wastewater either goes to the septic system if it is blackwater, and to a cache for reuse if it is greywater. The septic tank has to be babied, and you have to be very careful what you pour down the sink, since the water is reused.
 
One of the big problem during Katrina was that during the flooding, with waters up to 20 feet high, all the household chemicals that were typically stored under the sink contaminated the entire city and will never biodegrade. (At least not in our lifetimes.)
 
Again, I bring these issues up because most people do not consider them a high priority. In a situation where the service infrastructure fails, it is not going to be a matter of how your 401(k) is invested or how many guns you own. It is going to be a matter of how well you can deal with seemingly insignificant things like what to do with your own body waste.- RJL 

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This page contains a single entry by Jim Rawles published on April 15, 2006 10:15 PM.

Letter from Rourke Re: A New Breed of Feral Dogs, by Buckshot was the previous entry in this blog.

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