To the editor:
The days following Hurricane Katrina have given us a reality check. New Orleans and America were unprepared to deal with large-scale disaster. This should be a clarion call for Cape Girardeau and Southeast Missouri.
Expecting the federal or state government to launch a successful rescue deployment of this magnitude is foolish. The citizens of New Orleans were warned in advance and given a mandatory evacuation notice. There were obviously some who were not physically able to leave under their own power, but there were thousands who chose not to go. Having weathered hurricanes for decades, many people were complacent. Removing 200,000 people in a timely manner after the fact was impossible. What should have happened was an enforcement of the evacuation notice.
After 9-11, I signed up for the Citizen Corps, which is coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security, to help with local preparedness efforts. I received an e-mail thanking me for signing up and saying my information would be provided to a local council. To this day there is no local council, and I've never been contacted.
Cape Girardeau and its environs need to look for solutions to possible disaster situations in a real way. I don't believe for a minute that the federal or state government could help my family in the hours after a major earthquake or a massive levee break. What is Cape Girardeau's emergency plan? I don't know, but I'm prepared as an individual. Are you?
TONY L. SMEE, Cape Girardeau