Are We Better Prepared for Disasters?
One year after Hurricane Katrina hit and devastated New Orleans and parts of Mississippi, our country reflects on what has improved and what still remains unresolved. ‘What have we learned?’, we all seem to ask. The need to answer that question seems as fundamental as ‘What can we do?’ was in the shaky days following the hurricane.
So one year later, and what some feel none-the-wiser, the nation looks at disaster relief with an eye to both how we are reacting and what must be done to prepare for the future. Reaction has been slow in the quick year since. In New Orleans, garbage remains strewn throughout parts of the city, abandoned houses remain untouched; many people say not much has improved.
So what exactly have we learned? And what can we do to ensure that lessons learned have enabled us to move forward and that history does not forget.
In the immediate days following the hurricane, CNT staff traveled down to Mississippi with the intent on restoring crucial communications for residents and evacuees. For days, bewildered evacuees traveled to shelters without the means to fulfill one of the first instincts following something of that magnitude: communication with loved ones.
Volunteer staff installed Wi-Fi mesh networks, which enabled people to use the internet to login to the FEMA site, as well as use voice-over IP to call loved ones. The mesh networks work in disaster situations because they are made up of a series of nodes that form a decentralized, ‘mesh’ grid that can withstand such disasters because they do not require underground cables or centralized towers.
Learn more about CNT’s work with mesh-networks, including what we have done in Chicago neighborhoods, and how they can aid in better preparation for these times.