Thursday, September 22, 2005


I just watched a man on TV who would have scared the bejesus out of a Super Hero. He said, in effect, that in case of a national disaster similar to the hurricanes that have been pounding us, "you are on your own!"!

What? I thought a large percent of my tax money is going for my protection in a national emergency! I have seen pictures of all those Disaster Exercises on television in almost every U.S. city, with police and firemen saving imaginary lives and average citizens pretending to be gassed, or bombed, having heart attacks from sheer fright, or bleeding profusely!

I've seen the televised warnings, yellow rising to orange...or was it the other way around?... the solemn announcements..."we have it on good authority there will be a terrorist attack this weekend...we don't know where or how or who, but be alert"! And, watching all this, I have felt that we have a national disaster force that is in place, sort of fatherly, like a Daddy watching over his brood, making sure we are safe!

Well, Katrina taught us this may not be the case. Whatever caused the glitch, whatever caused those people to sit for five days without food, I am sure the rest of us do not want to see it repeated. Nor did the fellow I saw on TV. "You're on your own!" he said, and continued on to give instructions on how to save yourself.

First, he went back to our old favorites....plastic and duct tape! This panicked me a bit, because I just couldn't remember where I had put my duct tape after the last scare! Then I found it in my cosmetic bag. As I recall, I had decided that cosmetics were as important as duct tape in a disaster scenario. I didn't want to die without my lipstick.

This man said that, after a nuclear attack, we must know which way the wind is blowing, so that we can deduct which direction the radiation clouds are traveling. Now, if you don't have a battery radio, you will probably have to just wet your finger and stick it upward. There will be no electricity for any newfangled invention like television, so keep a radio and several batteries.

Once we have ascertained that we are out of the path of the wind, we have to cover the windows and doors with plastic, then duct tape them firmly. Don't forget openings like mouseholes and the holes in the plaster the kids have made with their Christmas toys. This room must be completely airtight, its oxygen intact, its duct-taped walls warding off the foe!

So, not only must you keep your duct tape handy, but you must store about ten days of food and water. If those New Orleans citizens had done this, keeping the storage bins on their roofs, it would have saved a lot of trouble. So, this fellow on TV said, keep about ten days worth of water, a gallon a day per person. For a family of five people, that's fifty gallons of water you must store in your Duct Tape Room. Just tuck it somewhere, then climb over it and start storing ten days worth of nonperishable food, food that doesn't need to be cooked, but can be devoured out of a can or a box. And, for God's sake, remember the can opener! He insinuated people could die for lack of a canopener. If not death, at least one could suffer from nasty gashes from a rusty knife.

I can imagine the troubles we are going to have, locked in our Duct Tape Room, arguing with the teens because they want to waste our radio batteries by tuning in the rap music stations. It is a known fact that ten days of Eminem will drive any parent into seizures of one kind or another. And the rations won't help, either. "Pork and beans again! Ugh! We had them for lunch!".

And our troubles aren't over. This fellow who was clearly helping us all live through a disaster said that we not only had to keep these provisions in our Duct Tape Room, but that we should fully outfit our cars! For a family of five, that is fifty gallons of water to be tucked in the trunk and somewhere in the back seat, as well as food and supplies. And, for God's sake, don't forget the can opener! Nor the gas. Nor the baby.

Now, the problem is this. Many of us live in climates where keeping water in the car is not so easy! Freezing jugs of water have been known to burst! And frozen cans of food can do the same. There is a chance that our provisions may collapse into an inedible stew in the floor of the car! And the fellow on TV didn't even go into this at all! Nor did he explain just where we will be going in the car. It all depends, you see, on that mushroom cloud that sent those deadly gases into the atmosphere. The wind, which many of us have prayed for on a hot day, has become our enemy.

These instructions are for a nuclear attack and must be slightly modified for other disasters. For tornados, one must hide and don't forget that mattress! For hurricanes, run like Hell. For floods, an inflatable boat, fully stocked with a ten day supply of food and water, would be helpful, but not possible, unless one has built an Ark. And for horrible diseases, like small pox or cholera, that First Aid Kit is just not going to be enough!

Then, after this fellow had completed his instructions on Disaster Management, a woman from the Atlanta Center for Disease Control gave a talk on Bird Flu, which threatens to become a pandemic and kill many of us. Since there is no vaccine and only a limited supply of the only medicine that will cure Bird Flu....and I guess you know who THAT will go to.....there is just no way to halt the progress of this disease unless you place yourself in complete isolation and I am not even sure of that!

Just in case you need it, perhaps you should buy more Duct Tape. If the chickens get sick, we may have to buy beef, and with Mad Cow around, along with the prices of steak, you might want to Duct Tape your mouth and give up eating entirely. This whole Disaster thing has addled my brain and, if one strikes, I may just emulate President Bush and take another day of vacation!