I believe our industry uniquely qualified to aid the displaced citizens of the northern Gulf in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. This is a great opportunity for our industry, our explorers, adventurers, professionals and enthusiasts to supply targeted and substantive aid to our southern neighbors. If not us, then who?
In speaking with members of FEMA I have been told that they will be relying heavily on "private sector contributions" to provide aid. This aid will take the form of "life saving and life sustaining as well as short and long-term housing support." The challenge that faces those trying to provide aid is that in order to get to victims in these areas that we may need to create "human relay teams" to get food, first-aid and temporary shelter into these areas because of thousands of downed trees, utility poles, debris and abandoned vehicles coupled with the absence of National Guard forces simply because the military is spread so thin.
Everyone, please know that for whatever reason, the emergency response at the federal, state and local governments, was, and continues lacking tremendously in numerous regions of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.
We can complain about the red tape or we can get ready to go. I am suggesting that we staff OERT's or Outdoor Emergency Response Teams to coordinate the relief effort in specific regions. On the ground we can identify and then distribute succor to those needing relief.
In our age to come, tornadoes or terrorists, disaster both natural and man-made, will require that the "private sector" respond to help their families, neighbors and friends. Heaven forbid another disaster; the agencies tasked with protecting our citizens find themselves on the ropes already. We, you, me, our friends, our industry is the "cavalry", the only "response team" that we can count on, as the events of the last week have sadly proven.
Emerson wrote "To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded." Everyone, we may not help thousands, we may reach only hundreds, but we will reach them. If we work together, as an industry, a family, we can make a huge impact in the lives of folks who need us now. If the tables were turned, they would be hiking towards us with packs full of support.