Film Review #2
What a Disaster
The world has encountered numerous disasters in its history. There has always been ecological disasters like hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes, but since the birth of humans, there has been an entirely new class of disasters, such as the one that happened on April 26, 1986. On that day, a sudden surge of power during a reactor systems test destroyed a whole unit of a nuclear power station at Chernobyl, Ukraine, in the former Soviet Union. The accident released massive amounts of radioactive material into the environment. In addition, these things have changed a lot because technology has put many disasters firmly in control of humans. Since these technological advancements, natural disasters don’t doom us as they once did. Instead we are able to stop or reduce the effects of a lot of them. That is why I believe Martin Smith and Marcela Gaviria, the producers of the film The Storm, were trying to tell us the government should be held accountable when it comes to natural disasters. There are things the government can predict and are able to give plenty of warning for. The government should be the main focus when it comes to natural disaster safety measures.
I understand what the opposing view might think: the government is not always able to predict every single natural disaster. Therefore, they should not be held responsible for the deaths or damage caused by natural disasters. While that may be true, the government is in a far better position to protect people from natural disasters than they are on their own. The government has access to weather monitoring devices and warning systems that they can use to help save lives such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Satellite and Information Service (Nixon 1970). Hurricane Katrina is the best example of when the government does nothing to help the millions of people affected. Not only was Hurricane Katrina by far the most lethal and most destructive storm of the 2005 hurricane season, as well as the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States, but it’s also one of the top five deadliest hurricanes ever. This impacted New Orleans’ music, livelihood, health and safety, religion, food security, and housing (Fazzino 2018, 9).
Another argument the opposing view probably thinks is that people can help themselves. Hence, it’s the people who are ill prepared for hurricanes and choose to stay in their homes that sustain the most damage, and if they tried harder, it would prove that people can take care of themselves during a natural disaster. I agree that people who stay in their houses and are killed are responsible for their own deaths. However, it’s up to the government to give enough warning about things such as hurricanes. New Orleans officials, for example, had known for a long time that their citizens were at risk from big storms. Just a year before Katrina struck, a Federal Emergency Management Agency simulation pointed to the devastation a Category 3 storm would cause. Evacuating the city would be a huge problem. When the storm did hit, the city was extremely unprepared (Kettl 2014). If the government doesn’t give the people enough warning, than people won’t even get the chance to secure their houses nor would they even know anything about how to make a house safer because the government didn’t give plenty warning or advice.
In conclusion, I understand that the government is not expected to do all of the work when warning for a natural disaster, implementing safety procedures, and diminish further damage. However, they are responsible for a lot of it and should be accountable if they don’t do a good enough job and don’t warn and help to decrease the damage. Death and damage is going to happen, but if the government fails to act beforehand and afterwards like they did during Hurricane Katrina, the damage and death toll will be unbearable.
Fazzino, David. 2018 “Disaster Anthropology & Disaster Reconstruction.” Hurricane Katrina and Disaster Anthropology pg. 9.
Nixon, Richard. 1970 "Satellites." Satellites | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Accessed April 03, 2018. http://www.noaa.gov/satellites.
Kettl, Donald. 2014 "How Much Can (and Should) Government Protect People from Natural Disaster?" Governing Magazine: State and Local Government News for America’s Leaders. Accessed April 03, 2018. http://www.governing.com/columns/potomac-chronicle/gov-insurer-of-last-resort.html.