Posts Tagged ‘Book’

Book of the Week: Katrina, After the Flood

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016
Catching Up Ten Years Later

Catching Up Ten Years Later

One of my favorite articles from Inc. magazine explored the decline of a Florida community ten years after it had been struck by Hurricane Andrew. As businesses lost revenues and had uninsured losses, they had to close, laying off employees, who no longer had discretionary income to spend at local businesses which sustained a loss of revenue….it was a vicious cycle and a number of residents were forced to relocate in search of jobs and other opportunities. I particularly appreciated the article, because typically disasters command attention when vivid images of physical damage can be broadcast. But when the news cycle has moved on to other stories, the people impacted by the disaster are left to rebuild without the sense of urgency conveyed by the initial media coverage. I know from my own experience of 9-11 that it is a long, long time before things return to normal – if they ever do. So I had Katrina, After the Flood on my list for some time and finally got around to reading it.

Gary Rivlin, a staff reporter for the New York Times, first went to New Orleans to assess the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina. He observed that 80 per cent of the houses in the city had been flooded, schools and businesses were ruined and the city’s water and sewer system were unusable. In this book, he traces what happens in the aftermath of a major disaster. Boarded-up businesses, some 21,0000 of the 22,000 businesses registered in New Orleans, were still shuttered six months after the storm. Six weeks after the storm, New Orleans laid off half of the municipal workforce. With so many formerly economically productive businesses and workers unable to contribute to the tax base, the community could not possibly finance its own recovery. ¬†What we learn is that life doesn’t go back to “normal”; people re-build or they move on, but the community is permanently changed. It is a gripping read; I highly recommend it.

Role Reversal

Friday, March 20th, 2009
Women Step Up

Women Step Up

In Prepare for the Worst, Plan for the Best: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery for Small Businesses (Wiley, second edition, 2008), I wrote that “I am going to make a politically incorrect statement. Be attentive to the emotional needs of the men in your life. I was impressed by the men in my life and how many of them suffered silently and perhaps put themselves at greater risk of illness and injury…..sometimes we forget the difficult burden of masculine conduct, so listen carefully and be particularly attentive to the men in your life who may have needs that they are too embarrassed to admit.”

The examples I supplied related to my personal experience of 9-11 as the owner of a small business in Lower Manhattan. Now we are facing an economic disaster, a day of reckoning for a quarter century or more of fiscal mismanagement and the financial consequences are even more ruinous. The cost of this has fallen dispropotionately on men. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 82% of the 2.5 million jobs lost in the U.S. since November were held by men. In an article published in USA Today, titled “Women Step Up as Men Lose Jobs”, a number of interesting family stories are presented with a common theme: the role reversal imposes some stress, but more so for men as for women as they navigate the unfamiliar.

We all become comfortable with our daily routines as we go on “auto-pilot”. It is more efficient. But any disaster disrupts our familiar routine and that alone imposes additional stress. One of the key lessons that I learned from my own disaster recovery experience is that if you can identify the stressors, you can better manage them. So here is another one of which to be aware.