What Afghanistan can teach up about disaster planning.

Despite your opinion of whether the U. S. should have been in Afghanistan still or even in the first place, there are still lessons that disaster planners can learn from the chaos resulting from the withdrawal. I am not sure anyone would have called Afghanistan a stable country, but there was definitely some structure in place with the U.S. military on site there. Taliban forces were unwilling or unable to take over locations held by those forces. That all changed when the military withdrew. The timing and aftermath are where we can find lessons to be learned.

The first lesson is that things can happen quickly. Many areas were seemingly taken overnight by the Taliban as U. S. forces withdrew. This left those who would be targets for Taliban persecution in a panic. Many simply fled in fear for their lives. While most would say this could never happen here, you simply have to look at concrete examples that dispute that. During Katrina many who choose not to evacuate were displaced immediately. The water literally rolled in as a wave covering areas.  Another example is the occupation of the supposed “autonomous zone” in Seattle by protesters. This left anyone with homes or businesses in the area at the mercy of protestors. While luckily widespread violence did not occur, there were 4 shootings in 10 days and a large amount of vandalism and property damage. This is all while the authorities watched from a distance.  The takeaway from this is that you need to be aware of how things around you are unfolding and be ready to hunker down or move in very short order.  Speed is your friend when it means you can get out of an area before things escalate or at least ahead of the masses clogging the way.

A second lesson to learn from this is that any promised aid in the event of a disaster may never materialize. Many of those individuals in Afghanistan that assisted the military either with translation, logistics, or security were promised visas to allow them to come to the U. S. and sanctuary. Only a percentage were granted before the last military flight left. This left those depending on that trip to safety in a lurch. The same again happened in Katrina. Many were promised aid by FEMA and other organizations, but were left to fend for themselves against the elements and criminal activity in the area. The Superdome is a prime example. People were packed in there with little to no supplies and security. The supplies that did arrive were completely mismanaged and many sat unused.  This shows us why it is important to take personal control of the planning and supplies you may need in those situations.

Hopefully most in the U. S. will not need to have alternate identification or illicit routes to leave the country like many may have needed in Afghanistan. Having a full tank of gas and a packed bag of supplies ready to go would be a great idea though.  Anything you can do to take responsibility for your own safety will greatly increase your chances of surviving unscathed. Waiting and depending on someone to save you is not a proper plan.

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