Sunday, September 18, 2005


I got this from Jeff Weigand via the stlouist. Bob Kraiberg put this letter out warning for a disaster. He has some experience in advising in the event of a disaster. He is also funny. It is some sharp observations and warnings. I am curious what sort of plans our city, our state and the Feds have in the event of a real emergency. I would like to say I have some confidence in our city, state and feds. I won't though.

I know that I have already taken a few of the precautions in just my natural everyday readiness. I am phasing out the leather soled shoes to speak of one step. Of course, I can't help but think of the extra advise the Feds gave of in defense of a gas attack. Duct tape and vinyl sheeting. I know if that chaos breaks out, we will be totally wiped out on a level we haven't ever seen or imagined. And in that world, I would begin to live like a Han Solo or Mad Max in a world of Escape from New York. Or something like that.

What does New Orleans and Soulard have in common? The Big One won't be pretty.

In another life, before I found my true calling as Liquor Commissioner, I was a former Director of Disaster Operations now referred to as CEMA (City Emergency Management Agency). My friends would affectionately refer to me as the Master of Disaster, a title I would have gladly adopted if I had chosen to follow a career as a professional wrestler.

Despite my aversion to most things scholarly I did manage to learn a few things about emergency preparedness. The "Big One" for New Orleans has long been recognized as a direct hit by a big hurricane. Have you ever wondered why a drink with that name was made popular in The Big Easy? Our greatest risks are tornados, floods, chemical spills and earthquake (Our "Big One"). There are several similarities and differences in dealing with our respective Big One.

To name a few:

ADVANCED WARNING--The levy breaks caused by Katrina need no explanation. However, you could see Katrina coming in advance and evacuate if you could or so desired. There will be no advanced warning when New Madrid goes off. Mass evacuation is unlikely. Consider the fact that St. Louis is surrounded by river bridges. Manchester road is the only way out of town without crossing a river bridge but involves crossing several overpasses.

Imagine rush hour times twenty. Now consider just one bridge rendered impassible by the earthquake. Throw in the invariable accidents, breakdowns and those running out of gas. Many thousands trapped like rats in eternal gridlock.

FIRE-many of our non-reinforced brick buildings will collapse and gas lines will break.

BOTTOM LINE to my words of woe-be prepared to hunker down for a week or two.

Permanently tie a wrench to the gas valve at the meter. This is no time to be looking for a wrench. TURN OFF THE GAS

Have a "Disaster Kit" and supplies pre-packaged available to survive those first 72 hours or so. It should include the following basics:

durable waterproof container
drinking water
first aid supplies and guide
food bars/can goods
toilet paper
emergency whistle
feminine products
emergency signal mirror
2 person tent
all weather ponchos
leather work gloves
dust masks
sanitation bags
water purification tabs
waterproof matches
utility knife
folding shovel
light sticks
can opener
pry bar
drinking cups
duct tape
50 ft. nylon cord
pet food
winter clothes-it could be -10 degrees or 100 in the shade.

You might also want to consider security issues (looters and criminal opportunists) Of course this disaster kit can be of your own design. Heck, you could even throw in some hurricane mix if you so desire.

Hopefully this disaster kit will do nothing but gather dust-if not I'll see you when we dig out.

Bob Kraiberg


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