Hurricane Irene, an enormous storm of unimaginable power, is bearing down on the east coast. Although there could be loss of life and substantial property devastation, America has more than enough resources to meet her and survive mostly intact. Unlike third-world countries we have the people, equipment and money in reserve to clean up. But it maybe the human locusts that follow in her wake that are hardest to battle against.
Irene is expected to make landfall in North Carolina, but it is the northeastern states that have made extraordinary efforts to evacuate the population and shut down public transportation systems. The corridor stretching from New Haven, CT to Atlantic City, NJ is one of the most densely populated areas in America; 55 million people are currently preparing for this large natural disaster.
Cities, counties, states and utility companies are on standby. Funds have been reserved to respond to emergencies and the federal government has a large department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, ready to provide local assistance. The public sector is ready to go.
But in the aftermath of disasters, bad things happen and authorities are often not around to help out. I’m sure that we will hear stories of looting and fraud following the hurricane — it generally happens after every natural disaster. The AP reported the following after tornadoes swept through Birmingham, Alabama in April:
Looters have carried off televisions, power tools and prescription pills. Elsewhere, unscrupulous businesses are charging double for a tank of gas or jacking up the cost of a hotel room. Authorities also warn of construction workers who leave with the cash before opening their tool kit and the danger that identities could be stolen off wind-blown documents.