I've been thinking a lot about the people of New Orleans, southern Louisiana, and southern Mississippi, and especially about those who didn't have the means to escape Katrina.
Seems to me that either there wasn't the capacity (or the means to notify those in need) to use available buses to the transport car-free New Orleans and Jefferson Parish residents to other parts of the state. I looked: the plans are on paper. But the misery of Superbowl "last resort" shelter -- now holding thirty thousand people -- seems to have been the solution, and that's not acceptable.
I have thought about this in my own life, seeing as some kind of unnatural disaster might afflict Washington, and Hubby and I have no car. Perhaps it would do no good anyway.
It gives one pause, and makes me think. Natural and other disasters -- perhaps not so horrible as a killer hurricane -- afflict most places. It makes sense to think of a non-automotive way to escape ahead of time. (Here in Washington, I'm thinking of a bus as far north as one can go, and then cut over to the C&O Canal footpath, then walking to Clara Barton's house at Glen Echo, Maryland. The Universalist -- or disaster care -- tie-in is purely coincidental.)
It also makes sense to plan for alternatives to car travel in daily life, especially in the coming weeks. I suspect record-high gasoline prices are coming.
Lastly, some of Katrina's hidden victims will freeze this winter. Higher heating oil and natural gas prices will force life-threatening heating decisions, most far from the Gulf Coast. And that's a looming disaster that we can do something to prevent.