Communication in the Wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
With a gust of wind and downpour of rain, Hurricane Katrina blasted Lousiana and other areas along the coast, just as was expected. Even the storm surge was expected, but what was not expected was the depth, breadth and tremendous impact the surge would have on the city. Businesses, government and media grinded to a halt, except for those brave reporters who stayed behind to bring the world the pictures that are now, no doubt, etched in the minds of people across the globe.
For those in business, the crisis management plan is a plan that many hope never to have to enact. When many executives with operations along the gulf coast were questioned about the storm that devasted the region, they were quick to mention their multi-pronged crisis management plan, complete with e-mail and phone trees. But, how in the world did they communicate anything to their employees when phone lines, internet lines and basically everything else in the area was cut off during the hurricane?
In this era of uncertainty, communication officials and agencies must look forward to alternative ways of communication. Yes, internet and cell phones are very useful, considering that the infrastructure is still intact.
Perhaps, this communicator thinks, in order to move forward we must look behind us. In the case of the devastating hurricanes that just ravaged our Gulf Coast, electronic communication between individuals was spotty at best and in this case a more primitive mode of communication may have been useful... PRINT!
We drop packages of food and leaflets over Iraq, Afghanistan and other counties, but the forward-thinking minds in our government (I am talking state, local and federal here, the blame can not all be shouldered by W.) found it too primitive.
It is the duty of every single person in this country to have their own plan, should a disaster strike their area, but it is the job of every communicator, not matter who you signs your checks, to work toward a communication program that is not only effective in perfect, or less than perfect conditions, but also in catastrophic times.
I leave you to think about that for a while... the next post will discuss in depth, some of my ideas and thoughts on new (old) modes of communication.