On Tuesday, President Bush outlined a $7 billion national pandemic influenza preparedness plan. On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services published backup documentation: It contemplates the costs of a moderate pandemic influenza. Read the rest of this entry »
Now that the letters of the alphabet have been exhausted in the naming of Atlantic storms, letters of the Greek alphabet will be used to name the remainder of the season’s storms: alpha, beta, comma, ditto, etc. There is a better way.
The ancients gave us enduring understanding of human nature, including hubris—overbearing pride and arrogance. Classical dramatists mined it for tragedy, showing how calamity arises when the reach of powerful kings exceeds a reasonable grasp.
And although hubris seems a long way from hurricanes, maybe it is not far after all to a new, more relevant sequence of letters to name the next hurricanes. Read the rest of this entry »
As the latest Atlantic hurricane spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, 90 miles to the north, roadways were empty. A little rain fell on a city closed tighter than a drum.
The lucky people of Miami retreated behind walls from fitful gusts of wind, but if the next disaster is pandemic flu there will be no lucky people and nowhere to hide. Read the rest of this entry »
Areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina look like a bomb went off. And so does the aura of invincibility described in 2004 by a senior Bush White House aide to the New York Times: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. . . . We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
Well. We’ve been studying, and the levee just burst on the school term. Read the rest of this entry »
Late Sunday afternoon, when the weak side of Hurricane Frances dragged its scudding tail of clouds from the south like a ragged cur, we abandoned the family lockdown and took the dogs for a walk.
We’ve been married 25 years, my wife and I, and one of the accompanying joys of a long relationship is finding new things to talk about.
So I asked my wife, who was wheeling her way around puddles gingerly, trying to avoid the soaked foliage and slipping on the edges: Where do mosquitoes go during a hurricane? Read the rest of this entry »
Horrific. An American city descends into chaos and humanitarian tragedy. Let the finger pointing begin.
Special condemnation is reserved for every elected official or spokesperson—trained by media professionals—who stands before a television camera and fails to answer direct questions from reporters.
Next in line: every reporter who allows an elected official or spokesperson or agency official to get away with evasion, coached by media professionals. The relentless redirecting of questions by interviewers back to talking points, unchallenged in many cases by television personalities, is unacceptable.
And shouldn’t there be a law to ban television “news” channels that collaborate with interviewees—lines of questioning, talking points, and leading questions that default to pre-arranged answers? Read the rest of this entry »
We are riveted to images of the hurricane’s victims hauled by choppers from rooftops because we are as amazed by the ways life carries us away as we are by salvation. Hurricanes are never just about hurricanes.
They are also about communities pulling together and neighbors reconnecting. In time, what was torn down is rebuilt, often with a keener eye for opportunity in its garish forms. People go their own way. And the hurricanes come again. Read the rest of this entry »
While millions of Floridians are grittily focused on finding a way back to normalcy, it is worth reflecting on the dominant concern of our times: security.
Hurricane Jeanne hit Haiti hard before it did that loop the loop and aimed right where Frances had gone before. The double blow bent the knees of the most hardened residents of Florida’s Treasure Coast, already weakened by calamitous, toxic outflows from Lake Okeechobee.
The death toll in Haiti, first reported at 500, quickly mounted to more than 1,000 and is likely to double. More than 250,000 are homeless. The storm hit in the middle of the night in Gonaives, where most deaths occurred, without forewarning—no Weather Channel, no TV reporters with goggles leaning into the blistering wind. Read the rest of this entry »
With hurricanes coming at us like bowling balls, people begin to wonder: What lane are we bowling on? Could Florida be the stopper in the return?
It is called global climate change. To judge the credibility of this concern: check your homeowner windstorm- and flood-insurance rates. Something is up, and it’s not just the wind.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration does a terrific job of harnessing technologies to forecast the path of hurricanes. Tens of millions of Americans rely on its National Hurricane Center and accurate, timely science. Why aren’t Americans getting the same quality information with respect to global climate change? Read the rest of this entry »
Thursday. A day strange, anxious, hot and sunny. Coming up with “Andrew.” That’s what the folks who Charley collided with can look forward to—every threat of hurricane is like a lottery ticket you’re hoping won’t scratch the same name.
Ten years after the Category 5 storm hit Miami-Dade, what sticks is the memory of long, slow days afterward. I tell this to my wife, who looks at me like I’m crazy. Read the rest of this entry »