About The Resilience Institute

The Resilience Institute is part of WWU Huxley’s College of the Environment. It facilitates scholarship, education, and practice on reducing social and physical vulnerability through sustainable community development, as a way to minimize loss and enhance recovery from disasters in Washington State and its interdependent global communities.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The forgotten disaster

Its been a week since Hurricane Ike slammed into Galvaston and Houston, Texas. The devestation is reminiscent of the worst disaster ever in the United States, the 1900 Galvaston Hurricane that, a mere hundred years ago, leveled the island of all inhabitants.

I've been struck by the almost complete lack of coverage of this event. Is it that after Katrina, our sense of risk has been recalibrated? A hurricane with *only several dozen deaths is great? Is it the lack of residents screaming for rescue from rooftops with its titillating specter of a modern-day, horrific replay of Swiss Family Robinson? Is it that in this looming slow-motion economic crisis? With the threat of loosing retirement savings and homes, do losses from a Hurricane seem more trivial? Do people subconsciously quip that at least the Texans impacted will get aid from FEMA? Or is it that at the end of a presidential cycle that has so blatantly mismanaged Katrina, people don't want to think about disasters until someone new is in the White House? Or is the destruction of Galvaston once a century simply an acceptable level of risk? I really don't know.

What I do know is that we are loosing an opportunity to continue the national conversation about how our Gulf Coast will relate to it natural environment.

Here is a slide show of images from Texas, sent to me by Diane Knutson, head of the Environmental Studies office here at Western Washington University. Unfortunately, I don't know the original source, but thanks to whomever took the photos and compiled the images.

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