Hurricane Katrina - Knowledge is Power, but is that Enough?
When Chad asked me to write a post for his blog, I wasn’t sure that I would have much to say that might interest his target audience. Not being a frequent (or at all knowledgeable) investor, I was not sure how I could shed some light on the topic of finance for a group of people that already knows more than I. That is, not until I looked at the bigger picture. We are at the one year anniversary of when Hurricane Katrina struck our country. The impact of this event is so significant that it has touched us all in some way shape or form, and unfortunately much of the context in which this event occurred revolves around simple dollars and cents – the very topic of this blog.
I say that Katrina struck our country instead of New Orleans specifically, because in truth while the hurricane’s initial geographic location was NOLA, its effects have reached every state, city and person in the nation. From the impact on friends and family to the new neighbors that may have fled to your town to the money that has been (and still needs to be) spent on rebuilding, each person is aware of the situation and has been impacted – even if they weren’t residents of the “Big Easy” a year ago.
Many have argued that those who suffered from Katrina’s wrath brought it on themselves by not heeding the warnings of forecasters in the days leading up to the storm. However the truth is that many people did not have the resources to leave. Without money for a car, the gas to fill it, or the ability to pay for a hotel a safe distance from the storm, many people had no choice but to stay and ride out the storm – especially since there was no plan in place to help them. It’s unfair that in this situation the lack of money translated into lack of safety and the denial of security. This makes the idea of money management and future planning even more relevant not only to us as individuals but also to our nation as a whole.
Even many people that had their own plans in place, such as a place to go during the storm, insurance policies and savings accounts are still finding themselves in a difficult if not impossible financial situation. Coming back to houses destroyed by the storm, denied claims and the loss of jobs due to the closing of many companies, people that at one time were financially stable have lost that security.
When a devastating event such as Katrina occurs, I think that one of the best paths to recovery comes from looking at what we’ve learned. I think our country learned a great deal from the hurricane – the question now is whether we as a group have used this knowledge to enact change. We’re always told in school that knowledge is power – but power alone clearly does not get the job done, as many worry that should another hurricane hit this region we would face this same level of devastation. It’s a good lesson that action is needed to correct this situation and thousands of others that exist in today’s world. The question still stands - a year later what have we learned? And have we acted on this knowledge?