How is a Pandemic like a Hurricane?
- People had (a little) time to prepare, and all the same grocery staples disappeared from the shelves: bread, toilet paper, and bottled water. There may be no good reason for this save habit and practice, but it turns out that the return of these essentials to the shelf takes an equally long time due to the global supply chain woes, and perhaps a lingering need to hoard supplies.
- The weather afterwards is spectacular… and there is no place to go. After a storm the humidity is low, the sun shines, and all the places to go for a distraction are closed. Our pandemic weather has been a near-uninterrupted stretch of sunshine and low humidity, making us feel as if a storm has come through. We want to be outside – the difference is now we can’t be with our neighbors. This is the reason people are spending time and money in their backyards and balconies, restoring the neglected corners, bringing order to their own patch of ground.
- It establishes a marker in our lives and a way of measuring time. For gulf coast residents, there is pre-Katrina and post-Katrina; now there is pre-Covid and post-Covid. In each of these events many of our friends lost everything. From each of these events we will spend years making up the losses. Katrina damaged buildings, infrastructure, history, the forest canopy, and 1,833 lives. Covid is affecting savings, retirement, jobs, productivity, and 203,670 lives to date, with many more to come.
- The recovery won’t be straightforward. After a hurricane, people must navigate new regulations for flood zones, elevation, and zoning; getting back to “normal” after Covid will not be a clear, linear sequence of measures. The government is as untutored at managing a response to this crisis as George Bush’s FEMA was unprepared for Katrina. We can expect a series of starts and stops, resources that are slow to arrive, highly-touted pathways to a cure discarded, economic “stimulus” an ineffective panacea. The regional Katrina recovery took ten years – will the recovery of the entire global economy take less?