Emergencies: Katrina versus Pensacola
by Dr. Jim Gschwind
The Despondent Correspondent
My doctoral dissertation dealt with crisis situations leadership, and emergency management as it transcribes to the brain process. This recent crisis in my hometown of Pensacola Florida reiterates my findings.
It is best describe the situation as it is today. We have a train stuck in downtown Pensacola; we have train tracks destroyed for Cxs; we have roads washed away; we have power outages; we have cars washed into neighbors yards; we have at least two sinkholes of 30 feet; schools are closed; state of emergency has been declared; congressional representatives have requested federal-aid; the state was first to respond, with national guard deep water vehicles and troops. We received 27 inches of rain and 24 hours. Homes were flooded, people climbed out of their attics, and businesses in other offices and schools closed for two days possibly three. We had people stranded just like Katrina. We had people left homeless because their homes were destroyed, because they were on high ground and didn’t see the need for flood insurance. Just to give you a perspective I have a rental double wide in Gulf breeze in the Midway area that was hardest hit, and sustained no damage at all. Why is this? I had brought it up to code, there are 33 tied owns through the roof, and all I do to prepare for hurricanes, is tied down my umbrella, tie trash cans to the telephone call, and hunker down. I’m blessed the fact, that when my late wife was alive, I installed a standby generator and a full large propane gas cylinder attached to it. All my household items are run on gas. And I have a pump. This is how residents of Northwest Florida prepare themselves for hurricanes and other natural disasters. Yes, we had tornado warnings. In fact during Ivan, a house 50 feet from me was destroyed by a hurricane generated tornado while we watched from our rear window. That post to rest the myth that storms a zero on trailers. I lived in l995 in a home destroyed twice in 30 days by hurricanes Ivan and Opal.
While I am proud of my mitigation efforts, I am more proud of my fellow citizens. During Katrina, we heard residents of New Orleans quickly ask where was the government helping us. The citizens of Northwest Florida, Mobile and the Mississippi Gulf Coast even after Ivan, especially in Mississippi where we can south of I-10 was completely destroyed, never asked for any help, and when about helping each other neighbor to neighbor.
While I’m sure, some progressives in our neighborhoods, were waiting for the federal government, these local community service organizations and neighborhood watches, went to work helping others without thinking for one minute, that the federal government would be here to help. Our citizens and our local governments stepped up to the task. They did this without any hope at all from outside influences. We are quite frankly used to holding out, because FEMA doesn’t show up sometimes in outlying areas for 3 or 4 days and we expect that.
For those of you who think large centralized government is the answer to everything, I will remind you what president Reagan said, “big government, is not the solution, it is the problem”. As a conservative, tea party member, and perhaps what some might call a libertarian, all I can say is this current crisis, proved that local individuals and government, are the key to American greatness.
Pensacola has been through this many times and has a rebuild many times as many of us individually have, and, I am proud to be one of them instead of one of those begging people to come in and help us. Congratulations my fellow Pensacolans you have restored my faith in local can-do attitude, rugged individualism and the fact that my study showed that instinctive decisions show people to be more altruistic than long-term deliberate avoidance. The longer we think about something, the more we begin to wonder what other people would think of our decision. That’s why long-term decisions are often very selfish whereas instinctive and natural gut decisions are most likely to succeed.
Is there any wonder, why this town has produced so many athletic greats such as Roy Jones Junior Danny Warfield, the snake, our latest golf pro two-time winner, Bubba Watson(Kenny Stabler), Emmitt Smith, and many others. This is because sports teaches them not only to become a team player, but also to display rugged individualism and personal pride.
For you Northern elite,s progressives and quasi-socialists up north who think that those of us in the South are unintelligent or subpar to you as the elite, I pose this question to you……. how would you act, how would Christ act? Isn’t that what we ask ourselves many times every day? We are confident in our faith and our belief in each other as human beings. We don’t need the Democratic progressive party or false God politicians to tell us how to behave to each other. We do it because we are Christian, we do it because we are good. We do it because we ignore you telling us that we are less than you and your northern elite ivory towers so disconnected from humanity that you have to massage your egos emotionally by grasping at government control, because you feel you cannot handle it. I feel sorry for you, that you need some major Almighty government to care for you, when God does that every day. If you would only follow the golden rule, and treat others as you would be treated, we would not have these political divides.
eeing my fellow citizens, act the way they did, caring for each other, not expecting the government to step in, tells me that we are on the right path. Carry on Pensacola, you’ve been through a lot, and have risen above it without the federal government. We have learned to depend on each other and God rather than a dispassionate cold aloof and tyrannical federal government. Remember my motto for my dead fellow shipmate always “life is good”, and he stated that thought and belief through 20 years of cancer treatments until the day he died. How can we be less. How can we complain this great land we have, unless we let it slip away. God bless you Pensacola, my own for the past 35 years, I didn’t have a home before I came here, I was military bounced around, and you have shown that my neighbors and friends here are the best I’ve come across. We will get through this with God’s help, not the government’s.