Tornadoes primarily plague the Midwest, blizzards blanket the north and the coastal regions are subject to the forces of wind and water in the forms of the hurricanes and subsequent great waves.

Natural disasters do not discriminate. There is no rationale to their selection of what gets damaged or destroyed. Trailers in tornadoes are my best example. How many times have we seen two trailers side by side, and one is blown to smithereens and the other is left unscathed? Nobody is exempt.

Our mettle is measured in how we handle the disaster when it happens.

Hurricane Katrina's assault on Louisiana and the Mississippi delta region was one of the worst in a long list of disasters to strike our country. The tragedy will go down in history as one of epic proportions.

We are thought by some to be one of the greatest countries in the world. But when we suffer through a tragedy like the flooding of New Orleans, the images on television make us realize just how far short we fall from that ideal.

When the levies failed and the town began to flood, decisions were made -- to run or not to run. In the aftermath, I couldn't help but wonder why those who did not run made that choice. I admit to commenting that to stay obviously wasn't a smart decision.

Then I realized two things. First of all, it appeared that many of the ones who remained did not have the means to leave, and second, it seemed like a lot of those same people simply had nowhere to go.

And when you think about it, it makes sense. Look at the facts. One, you have a city that is built below sea level. Two, the most unfavorable places to build (i.e. the most volatile, or the ones that will flood first when the dam breaks) would be closer to the coast. So three, the ones who can afford to live there are likely the ones in the lowest socio-economic class.

It's true that more should have been done in the early moments following the flood. The military could have been called, supplies and rescue equipment could have been rushed in quicker, and therefore, more people could have been saved.

What also became true to me was the level of poverty that many Americans are forced to endure - a level so great that it traps some in dangerous, life-threatening situations because they can't afford to run. I can't imagine that level of helplessness or hopelessness. How did Americans, citizens of the greatest country in the world, get to this point?

Since last week I've heard several comments that start with the ridiculous prelude "if there's a silver lining to this..." or "at least a couple of good things have come from this tragedy..." There is nothing good about a tragedy of this magnitude. But there are things to be gained.

A disaster as this might make people realize the truth of the expression "there is no nobility in poverty." After witnessing the last couple of weeks, we have seen that a life of poverty is not much of a life and could possibly result in a premature end to that life.

Poverty is a sad thing. But it doesn't just happen. There are too many opportunities for people to prepare themselves for a life that is self-sustaining.

I have to wonder if the tragedy hasn't served as motivation for some to pull themselves out of what might be a dangerous situation. Motivation to do whatever it takes to create a better situation that won't be threatened by the elements. Or at least create a situation that isn't on the front lines.

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