Tag Archives: storm

Failure of Imagination


Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As part of my research for a book I’m writing, I am reading “The Great Deluge,” by Douglas Brinkley. I’ve actually been reading this book for some time, taking it in small bites for a multitude of reasons. One of those reasons is that it will serve as material for just a section of my book, so I don’t need to complete it within any particular time frame or bump other reading material to accommodate it. A second very big reason is that I can’t read it too close to bedtime, when I normally do the bulk of my reading, because it’s highly likely to give me nightmares.


The book is an incredibly precise accounting of the lead-up to the storm and its aftermath. Anyone near a television during those days who watched from safety outside of the storm’s devastation no doubt can still recall the searing images of a city devastated, many of its people stranded and losing hopeif not their lives. Brinkley, a consummate historian, tells the story with the in-depth parsing of events that only a skilled historian can achieve, while also weaving a story that draws you into its grip from the first paragraph of the first chapter.


A lot of blame was slung around after Katrina had moved on, and much of it rightfully so. What I can’t help but conclude—and the book makes starkly evident—is that a failure of imagination was one of the greatest underpinnings to the human consequences of this disaster. Sometimes we forget that true horror lies not just in books and movies. Or maybe we want to forget, which is why we ignore our imaginations, allowing them to fail at the very time when life—potentially our own as well as othersmay depend on it.

Prepping… What’s So Funny?


Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I attended the Mid-Atlantic Emergency Preparedness and Survival Expo over the weekend. I’ve read many articles and online comments about preppers, and there are a few common reactions: respect, a knowing wink, or an outright insult and dismissal as a bunch of crackpots.

It may be the use of the term “doomsday.” It has Hollywoodesque connotations of unreality. Or, maybe it’s the seemingly excessive lengths that some preppers go that may induce eye-rolling, such as the building of bunkers. It’s too easy to look at recent history, when folks in the 50’s built nuclear fallout shelters, and judge them as excessive because we know nothing happened to require their use. So anyone building a shelter or bunker today is seen as over the top because there is seemingly nothing to warrant such extravagance.

Who’s to say? Just because something hasn’t happened doesn’t mean it won’t, but it’s all a matter of personal taste.

While any pursuit can be taken to an extreme, learning skills that promote independence and the ability to take care of yourself and your loved ones is inherently a good thing. I don’t think you need to throw the baby out with the bath water and cut all ties to society. We are still social creatures, and working together to prevent “doomsday” scenarios from occurring still makes sense.

Besides, it’s all fun and games and mockery until the unexpected hits. It doesn’t have to be a complete collapse. How many people have experienced the inconvenience of a power outage? I can’t get water from my well when the power is out–talk about feeling helpless. It takes little inconveniences like that to make you realize… I’m really dependent on a system that when it works, great. But ask the people who lived through Hurricane Katrina what the system was like there. Can anyone forget the people stranded without drinking water?

My favorite snarky comments I see with prepper-related articles (isn’t the comment section one of the liveliest bits of any article?) are those that say, “I’ll just go take a prepper’s stuff if need be.” If that isn’t a classic case of entitlement, I don’t know what else would qualify. The funny thing is, the commenter probably relies on GPS and wouldn’t be able to find a prepper, so maybe they’d better think of putting some gallons of water by instead of thinking they’re going to turn into Mad Max. Better to focus on developing Mad Skills, baby.

The speakers at the Expo were a diverse group with a range of background experience. It was with passion that they shared their knowledge. Some might look askance at the fact that they each had something to sell. I can’t fault anyone for packaging their knowledge or creating products and selling them. It’s still the American way. And, it didn’t seem like anyone was trying to bilk the crowd or getting rich off their endeavors. People plunk down money for things of far less value, and anyone willing to pay for knowledge or practical products has probably made a wise investment.

I took pages of notes and look forward to sharing tidbits over the coming weeks. But first, what do you think about the prepper ‘movement’? Folly, or foresight?