Tomas, a dangerous tropical storm is bearing down on Haiti. No doubt, Tomas carries with it the potential to drop perilous amounts of rain as it makes its way across the distressed Caribbean nation. The millions of refugees living in tent cities in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake are now menaced again by potential flooding and landslides caused by the threat of torrential rains.
In response to the threat, government officials have issued a Code Red warning and advise the people living in the tent cities to evacuate.
The distressed situation of the Haitian people approaches biblical proportions. It would seem that Moses himself has raised his rod against them to deliver pestilence, plague and destruction on this vulnerable island nation. As Tomas approaches the defenseless people of Haiti, it threatens to wash them away in torrential rains forever swallowing them in an avalanche of mud. Let us pray that the entombment of tent city refugees in the good earth of Haiti is not the final solution to this humanitarian nightmare.
A call to evacuate? Evacuate to where?
You Tube Music Video: Charles Mingus, Haitian Fight Song
Risk: environment, refugees, natural disaster
early darkness unsheathes a slivering moon
the perfect celestial sickle
threatens to thresh exposed digits
wayward trundlers heaving bulky sacks of woe
scutter down the city’s darkest side streets
making haste to the only lighted room
that still welcomes them
cots boast lumpy clots
of errant springs and jagged hooks
grappling the lodger atop a mattress
in bumpy knots of institutional green
coughs and snores, cusses and laughter,
sighs and tears all ceaseless prayers,
some mumbled, some shouted, some thought,
some farted, some sang, some roared
Speaking mutely of the weighty day
resenting new hard memories
hoping for a dreamless sleep
You Tube Video:
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: Moanin
Risk: moral clarity
Just when the price of corn was hitting $7 a bushel, Iowa’s farmers were counting on making a killing this year. The rise in the price of agricultural products due to increased global demand was one of this years few favorable economic developments that farmers were looking to capitalize on. Unfortunately Mother Nature threw them an awful curve ball and wiped out many farms that abutted the angry rivers of the Midwest. The loss of 10% of the states corn yields, has also hurt soybeans and other crops. Though it will certainly drive prices even higher, for the farmers whose fields are underwater , this year will bring financial hardship not abundance as some have thought only a week or two ago.
Longer term the floods destruction may also significantly damage soil and water quality due to the spread of toxins, hazardous waste, dead farm animals and other industrial pollutants rippling through the farmlands as the flood spreads. If 10% of the areas farmland is affected this will command a premium on agricultural futures for years to come.
Eventually, the flood waters will drain off from the once rich arable soil, carrying with it all the fertilizers, petroleum by products and other effluents into the Mississippi River. As it passes New Orleans it won’t be far from its final destination where it can cause considerable damage to the waters of The Gulf of Mexico and its struggling aquaculture and fishing industries.
The Army Corps of Engineers has issued 13 million sandbags. Those sandbags will have to be hand filled. The amount of labor, energy and resources expended to fill those bags in a valiant struggle to buttress failing levee systems is a testament to the American spirit to endure.
As we tally the awful cost of this catastrophic event lets be mindful that investment in our infrastructure is a critical issue that is central to our national defense. I can’t help but think what a wise decision a $2 billion investment in levees would have returned to this country in saved expense and opportunity cost. The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is sure sage advice that unfortunately we always seem to dismiss as a meaningless cliche.
We’ll close this post with a favorite from the old Granges of the Midwest.
Let’s listen to Woody Guthrie sing “This land is Your Land.”
Risk: infrastructure, agriculture, aquaculture, water, Mississippi River, Gulf of Mexico, inflation, arable land, crop yields