A cautionary tale

Published 9:27 pm Thursday, September 27, 2012

There are few better examples of the need to prepare for an emergency than Hurricane Katrina. The storm will be etched into the American consciousness for a generation or more as the quintessential example of the cost of failure when it comes to official and personal preparation.

Few who saw the images of people stranded on rooftops will ever forget the awful results of being caught flat-footed in the face of the raging storm. For those who lived through the terrible days of flooding in Louisiana and Mississippi, the memories are indelible.

Linda Rogers, who now runs Consulate Health Care in Windsor, was one of those survivors. As the administrator of a 120-bed health care center in New Orleans at the time, Rogers found herself in the distressing situation of having to decide whether to ride out the storm or to evacuate. That decision was made for her when the previous arrangements that had been made to evacuate the facility during such a disaster fell apart as Katrina bore down on the community. She and her staff and the residents spent a terrifying and helpless night watching Katrina take apart and then flood their building. They were finally rescued by state troopers and wildlife officials.

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Even the best plans can go awry in the face of a disaster. But having a detailed survival plan in place requires one to think about the situation ahead of time and consider various alternatives.

Rogers’ story, shared on Wednesday with members of the Western Tidewater Medical Reserve Corps in honor of National Preparedness Month, is a cautionary tale and a reminder that while we may not be able to avoid disaster, we are each called to prepare ourselves for it.