I have been wrestling with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
I am lucky, as it is mostly an intellectual exercise, though still fueled by emotional fury. My friends and family all happened to be in other parts of the country, and thankfully safe, by luck or grace.
All I can do to pull something from the horror is remind myself and others that we have to take care of ourselves. We have to be ready to survive when no-one comes to the rescue, whether by accident or design. To steal a slogan: be prepared.
To put it a bit oddly, I’m also lucky that my family’s history includes having had occasion to be required to pick up and leave home, permanently, on extremely short notice. Thus instilling a somewhat religious need to be prepared for the event of some amorphous and unpredictable disaster. So I have it a little easier than some, having been raised in a sub-culture with decidedly survivalist tendencies. I didn't realize until adulthood that not everyone absorbed basic first aid training and the 13 (or 15, or 27) Essentials as part of the usual growing-up experience, along with learning to brush your teeth, or to close the front door after you come in, you don’t need to heat the whole neighborhood.
I don’t bring this up to gloat, but to plead: make an emergency plan. Know where your identity documents are. Make a first aid kit. Put some extra blankets and a change of clothes in the trunk of the car. Talk to your friends and family – get contact numbers, email addresses, ways to get in touch. Figure out where to go to meet if you get separated. Set up an out-of-area contact you and your people can call to check in with, if you can. Figure out who can drive and who can’t – talk about mobility issues, allergies, medications, impairments, phobias, special needs, pets. Any preparation is better than none, even just trying to think ahead, imagining what you would do, what you would need.
Talk about a plan, or plans, with the people you care about. Then when something happens – rocks fall, aliens invade, floods rise, meteors strike – if history repeats itself in cruel or criminal ways you’ll have a measure of control over your part in it.
If by grace, somehow, history leaves its rut - well, you've just set down the outline for your best-selling post-apocalyptic science fiction opus.