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Why Does it Take a Catastrophe to Deal with a Known Crisis?

Posted by Thomas Edwards on September 5, 2017 11:25 AM EDT
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The stories of the recovery efforts for the enormous devastation resulting from Hurricane Harvey's assault..... 

...on the Gulf Coast region of Texas has been both heart-breaking and heart-warming.

The damage to lives and to the entire region's physical land mass is of epic proportions.  Stories continue to unfold about the damage to homes, people's lives and to the delicate balance the region has with its industrial base, namely oil and chemical refining.  Stories detailing that less than 20% of the population whose homes are now destroyed partially or completely having flood insurance tugs at heart strings.  Estimates that will go well beyond tens of billions of dollars.  Heart-breaking news continues to grow with every passing day.

Yet, there have also been stories of the heroic actions of everyday people, working closely with professionals and with volunteers to do whatever can be done to save lives and protect what remains from further disaster and damage.  People helping people overcome adversity of epic proportions.  Amazing stories of rescuing others, older people and pets and animals.

Why does it take a disaster to bring about huge actions?  Why were there not better preparations, ways to handle the water deluge?  There are many answers that can be explored and perhaps many reasons why this phenomenon will haunt people in that region for decades to come.  When such a disaster is so predictable, it seems so negligent after the fact that so little has been done to prepare for the eventual and inevitable disaster.  

But one that rings true is similar to the crisis in health care.  We as a culture and even with insurance mechanisms tend to put off and delay how aggressively we deal with the inevitable crisis ahead.  we seem to be much more adept at dealing with the crisis after it happens than to invest the time, emotion and efforts ahead of the crisis.  Our lives and our systems are optimized around recovery...not prevention.  Perhaps one way to move us past this mindset, these systems and this tendency to delay action until it is too late is to take the mindset of recovery before it's too late to recover at all.

As devastating as the Hurrican Harvey catastrophe is and will continue to be for the Texas Gulf Coast and its people, the coming crisis of an aging population and ever-increasing healthcare costs that are optimized around healthcare services and recovery/healing, makes the crisis in Texas pale by comparison.

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