No Easy Decisions
“The power is back on, thank God!” –95% of Atlantans sometime last week.
In reflecting for this week’s column, I couldn’t help but replay something I’d heard over and over throughout storms Harvey and Irma. It stood in direct contrast to the countless, amazing displays of heroism, selflessness and humanity that we saw during and after the storms’ aftermath. Each utterance, whether blatant or veiled by the pretense of concern, unnerved me to the core.
WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST LEAVE?
The realities of “why people stay” are multifold, complex and deeply personal. Those decisions also center on economics. Plainly put, it costs to pick up and go far enough and quick enough to secure safety. Flights or gas, food and lodging (unless you’re lucky enough to have friends or family out of harm’s way) are expenses that frankly, make the decision for many people. For reference, 63% of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency, Forbes Magazine reported last year.
We also cannot ignore the physical and emotional trauma that occurs during these disasters too. Not many of us know how we would react to witnessing the destruction of our very community, neighbor or worse, our own home. I couldn’t imagine a first-hand encounter with widespread injury and death, nor do I want to be tested to find out.
We have to stop thinking of others’ choices in terms of what we would do. Rather, we have to start thinking about what people can do in their literal shoes (if they still have them). Do they have the ability, do they have the support, do they have the basic resources and if so, can they even access them?
With or without a natural disaster, those on the fringes have no easy decisions.
Che D. Watkins
President and CEO