Friday, September 02, 2005

Cuba and hurricanes

less than 2 months ago, cuba was able to move 1.7 million people on short notice.
the whole civil defense is embedded in the community to begin with.  people know ahead of time where they are to go.
they come to your door and knock, and tell you, evacuation is coming, then they come and tell you, now.  
if no electricity, they have runners who communicate from a headquarters to central locations what is to be done.  
the country's leaders go on TV and take charge. but not only the leaders are speaking. the TV weatherpeople are knowledgeable. and the population is well educated about hurricanes.
they not only evacuate. it's arranged beforehand where they will go, who has family where. not only pickup is organized, delivery of people is organized.
merely sticking them in a stadium is unthinkable. shelters all have medical personnel, from the neighborhood. they have family doctors in cuba (!), who evacuate together with the neighborhood, and already know who, for example, needs insulin.
if they evacuate to a countryside high school -- a last resort -- they have dormitories there.  
they also have veterinarians and they evacuate animals. they begin evacuating immediately, and also evacuate TV sets and refrigerators, so that people aren't relucatant to leave because people might steal their stuff.
it's not throwing money at the problem.  it's not financial capital, it's social capital. the u.s. in this sense has zero social capital.
dealing with hurricanes in cuba, as compared with how it's done in the u.s., is similar to the differences in how they deal with medicine. it's not reactive; it's proactive. they act as early as possible. the u.s. doesn't have civil defense, it has civil *reaction.*

from BoingBoing and more from this article on the BBC

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