Living in a tent can be fun when you’re camping, but can you imagine living under a tarp for three years?
Having a family home, whether you own it or rent it, is for most of us simply the way it should be.
But can you imagine that yours is one of 80,000 houses severely damaged in an earthquake two years ago – and you’re still not back to normal?
Those are two among thousands of real-world examples that illustrate the fact that the aftermath of a disaster, such as an earthquake, is really the worst of it. But that’s not what we hear about from the mainstream media, so we’re inclined to forget about such events as quickly as the media does.
For them, there’s no news value in reporting about the ongoing hardships that survivors face. Instead, for the media, it’s on to the next disaster with all its graphic pictures of destruction, interviews with tearful survivors, and pieces to camera from the scene, reading or speaking the same old script in which it’s pretty much only the places and faces that have changed.
The recent record tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma, where a two-mile-wide twister created absolute havoc and destruction, did yield at least one follow-up story, and that was that there has been a tremendous upsurge in demand for storm shelters since then.
This is good news, but we do have to wonder why it takes a very close and very personal disaster to prompt people – in this case the survivors – to do what they should have done long ago – which is, to be prepared for the unexpected. If you live in tornado or storm country, knowing that these natural events are guaranteed to happen somewhere in the vicinity every year, it’s hard to figure out why you wouldn’t make your own survival your number one priority!
Perhaps it’s because exposure to so many natural disaster stories on television, where only half the story is ever told, and that’s all about the worst of it, has left us with very short memories, or with the delusional thought that “sure it’s tough for them, but obviously we’re okay here, so what’s to worry about, we haven’t seen a storm like that around here forever…”
And soon we’ve lost any desire to be prepared for ourselves.
Now if you were exposed to the other half of the story more often, the aftermath part, if you had to see how people have been forced to cope under the most difficult circumstances, perhaps you would move a little faster to get your back-up plan established and ready to roll out at a moment’s notice.
Otherwise, when a major earthquake, a tsunami, a tornado, a hurricane, or a solar storm happens and you’re the one caught in it, and if you survive, you’re going to quite likely find yourself living in a tent for three years, or waiting for two years to get back into whatever is left of your house, or…you’re just going to be homeless and penniless because Nature foreclosed on you, and no-one is ever going to bail you out.
FEMA might have convinced you that a 72-hour survival kit and 72 hours of backup food and water is all you need to worry about to be prepared for any emergency.
That’s ridiculous, especially when you look at the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand, the Japan earthquake that crippled that nuclear power plant.
In just a few short minutes, tens of thousands of people become both survivors (fortunately) and at the same time, they are refugees.
What would it be like to be one of them?
Maybe, if you’re lucky, you can soon make your way to some temporary shelter where you’ll get food and water for a day or two. You might even be able to take your cat or dog there too. But you’ll soon have to start looking after yourself as best you can.
We don’t need to labor the fact that all the usual infrastructure services are probably smashed so badly that it’ll be days, weeks or months before you can boil the kettle on anything but an emergency stove – if you have one.
And even if you get over the shock fairly quickly, you’re still faced with a very uncertain future, because the aftermath lasts a hell of a lot longer than the event itself.
Using Haiti as an example once again, hundreds of survivors who have spent the last three years sheltering under tarps and salvaged tin in a “temporary” settlement, are now being evicted, with nowhere to go. And that’s in a place where men and women literally fight like savages over a puddle of muddy water (according to a personal anecdote from a relief worker who went there).
And Christchurch – it’s mid 2013, over two years since that city was all but flattened, and even now, there are 40,000 houses till requiring repairs.
Japan – the problems at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant have made the headlines almost every day since that catastrophe, and so they should, considering the government and corporate lies and coverups about the ongoing radiation leaks, thyroid issues in children, and the accumulation of 400 tons of radioactive water every day that leaks into the crippled reactor rooms.
Yet we hear little about how the displaced survivors are coping now that they’ve lost their homes, their land, their jobs and their incomes.
It is so easy to ignore or forget that it is not the storm or the earthquake or the tsunami that is the worst of it all.
The worst of it all is the aftermath, and that is what it will be for every survivor of every future event, of which there are certain to be many if current strange weather conditions, increasing earthquakes, monster storms and even solar storms are anything to go by.
Only a fool would expect the government or any agency to come to their personal rescue, especially in a heavily populated city – and if you live in the country? Forget it. Totally.
Anyone who refuses to think and act ahead, anyone who does nothing to help themselves prepare for an emergency, no matter how unlikely it may seem at the moment, is likely to find themselves as homeless and hungry as any dumpster-diver, simply because they chose not to do anything to help themselves.
Those who do plan ahead, and do something about it here and now, though few and far between will be the ones who make the best of the worst of it – the aftermath that no-one talks about, or even thinks about.