By Robert Field
The situation in the Bahamas is indeed tragic. Yet we see how ordinary people, especially momentary leaders, will take matters into their own hands and work together to get essential matter done.
Hurricane Agnes in the 1970s that flooded our 264 unit Gateway apartment complex in Edwardsvile, PA was similar to what happened in the Bahamas. It stayed around for three days!
In emergencies it is always the laypersons who take charge in the beginning. They organize and act on their own, be they contractors or individuals who immediately start working together, as they did to clear the road into the remote Bahama airport. Many were probably neighbors or possibly family members. Leadership coalesces for the moment. (Later people move on with their own lives.)
Then the government catches up. Of course in the Bahamas there may no longer be much of a government.
In our case in North East Pennsylvania, there were plenty of roads and supplies near at hand despite numerous detours. And within days the Army Corp of Engineers roared in and took over.
The Wilkes-Barre region did not lose a single person as a result of Agnes. But it was citizens like the volunteers from our complex’s employees and residents that went door to door to make sure that all residents left their apartment and went to shelters (often school gymnasiums) that were high above the flood plain.
There are no such high elevations in the Bahamas.