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Disaster planning a community project

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You may have experienced those kind of slow motion seconds in which the brain somehow resolves itself to accept disaster. A few days ago as I was driving down Louisville in Monroe, an SUV of three 18-year-olds sailed through their stop sign on the perpendicular street practically sweeping me and my little convertible off the road. The seconds before the impact feel like hours in a dream that you’re trapped in. In the hours after the crash, meeting the parents and filling out paperwork, I sat on the back of a tow truck flipping through all the “what if” questions. At the caboose of the thought train there’s an unsettling resolution that it is impossible to get away from our attachment and dependence on the body, our health deteriorating every day and the dissolution of the materials that keep us functioning.

The very next day I attended a conference on crisis assessment in communities in which methods for planning for and responding to disasters were discussed. University of New Orleans sponsor CHART — the Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology — a team of professors and graduate students traveling around north Louisiana to investigate and implement disaster recovery programs. Their mission is to partner with local communities and identify ways to mitigate risks. In the five-hour conversation-style presentation, they asked several questions about what it means to be prepared for the next disaster. They postulate that for an organization to be resilient, it must be able to achieve its core objectives in the face of adversity. Naturally after the previous night, I was feeling a little skeptical about the ability to prepare for the unexpected.

Under the roof of the Ruston Civic Center, we had the opportunity to discuss the value systems in communities and the structural and practical support of these values. These rely on the tangible systems, supporting the intangibles. Wired to mostly filter and compute things with the right side of my brain, it is a constant struggle attempting to marry it to the left — the practical and the theoretical, ’till death do us part.

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