Our View: Hurricans? Tsunamis? Volcanoes? Not here
It should come as a shock to no one to hear the Federal Emergency Management Agency has flubbed it again. This time, the agency whose former chief was fired after doing a heckuva job during Hurricane Katrina let tons of food intended as disaster ...
It should come as a shock to no one to hear the Federal Emergency Management Agency has flubbed it again. This time, the agency whose former chief was fired after doing a heckuva job during Hurricane Katrina let tons of food intended as disaster aid spoil last year.
The agency that's supposed to plan for calamities instead created one, improperly storing some 13.4 million box lunches that cost taxpayers $70 million. Much was salvaged in time to be donated to America's Second Harvest for hunger programs, but 400,000 meals had to be thrown away.
The problem? There were no major hurricanes in the U.S. last year and somehow, the agency forgot that the Gulf Coast, where the meals were stored, gets pretty hot in the summer. Oops.
Our own weird weather notwithstanding, Duluth still lives up to its name as the Air Conditioned City. Taking transportation logistics into consideration, would northern Minnesota be a better storage location for meals-ready-to-ship?
While the deep thinkers at FEMA wrestle with that, there's much to be said about the Northland's relative safe footing away from natural disasters. According to the National Weather Service, the probabilities are virtually nil of hurricanes, tsunamis or volcanic eruptions striking the area, and Duluth and Douglas County are on the furthest extreme of the tornado belt.
That's an opportunity for private industry to consider, especially businesses that rely on the safe storage of goods and information, such as computer data.
It also makes sense for businesses that can't take the chance of being interrupted, let alone demolished, by a hurricane. One backer of the safety-zone business district idea is Carl Svendsen of the Oliver Companies, who keeps a copy of the Weather Service map to show prospective tenants of the firm's Duluth Technology Park on Rice Lake Road, outside of the tornado zone and a thousand miles or so from the nearest hurricane, volcano or tsunami.
We do have our blizzards and storms -- something New York and New England residents know a lot about right now in the wake of a late "winter" nor'easter -- but we also know how to deal with them. And it does get cold here. But that too has business possibilities: It makes for excellent cold storage -- for 13.4 million box lunches, for example.