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"Look to the Left of your Tools"

Posted 8/16/08

Disclaimer: The following article is the sole opinion of Arthur Helms. ZWN and it's affiliates do not influence, endorse nor are accountable for Mr. Helms opinions.

I may be showing my early geek side, but there is an “old dwarvish” saying that says “Look to the Left of your Tools”. What this means is that each of your tools serves a primary function but you should never ignore their secondary uses. The forge hammer becomes the war hammer, the woodsman’s axe becomes the warrior’s blade and even the simple walking staff can become a stout defensive weapon. Many nations of the world have plans in place for natural disasters, especially those nations geographically predisposed to exposure to them. However, time and again when these nations experience a necro-mortosis outbreak their populations crumble, basic services fail and their people are left to face the walking dead with little to no aid from their government.


Earthquake, tsunami, tidal wave, large-scale necro-mortosis outbreak, hurricane; what do all of these things have in common? Each can devastate a wide swath of territory in a shockingly small amount of time. Each impacts not only people but property and structures and never for the better. Each is incredibly expensive to clean up after. Each can cause widespread fear and panic responses from simple price-gouging all the way up to riots and looting. Each can not only destroy the lives caught in their path but change the lives of thousands of others by association. That’s the bad news.


So what’s the good news, you ask? Each of these disasters can be prepared for to minimize their impact. Experience and technology has allowed us to develop plans and strategies to aid us in both preparation and the aftermath. And, each can be survived, provided the proper pre-planning is coupled with intelligence, common sense and a strong and proven aftermath response. A necro-mortosis outbreak shares many of the common traits of a natural disaster when viewed in terms of preparation, crisis management and clean-up. Unfortunately, the average person tends not to see the similarities when Uncle Edward is rising from the dead or they see a dozen figures shambling from the dark, moaning and reaching for their flesh. Everyone who lives in areas prone to them fears hurricanes, but it’s an abstract fear. The wind doesn’t have a face. The rain wasn’t at your last birthday party and the lightning isn’t your child’s godparent. A necro-mortosis outbreak breeds a special kind of fear. This particular disaster is an intimate one and a wide-spread one at the same time.


I have talked before about our need as not only a nation but as an entire race to quell or fear of necro-mortosis by logic, reason, education and planning. Once you get past the human factor, a necro-mortosis outbreak is no different than any other natural disaster. Plans for any such disaster are almost always a safe bet if applied to a necro-mortosis outbreak properly. To illustrate my point, let’s look at last year’s Miami outbreak as opposed to, say, Haiti and its struggles.


Haiti has been the scene of rolling outbreaks for the better part of two years now. Being a relatively poor island nation, their disaster planning, management and clean-up can be considered poor in any disaster. The human element of necro-mortosis disasters was and still is the largest obstacle for them to overcome. Many Haitians still refuse to see the undead as the by-product of a plague even after the plague has caused so much devastation to their homeland. They don’t see a reanimate, they still see Uncle Edward. Add that to inadequate transportation networks, ill-conceived or even non-existent evacuation plans, a decided lack of leadership and vital supplies and a host of other common Third World issues and you have a recipe for a prolonged negative outcome from a natural disaster.


Now, compare the Haitian situation with the Miami outbreak. Yes, we still encountered the human condition in Miami, with residents worried not only for their reanimated loved ones but in many cases worried over their legal immigration status. There are more than a few folks in Miami that don’t want to be found by the authorities in the best of times, and here they were, trapped in a marshal law situation with soldiers, police and emergency services workers coming into their homes to pull them away for evacuation. Now, add to that the general population of Dade County and the surrounding areas. The only reason Miami fared as well as it did was because local, state and federal authorities and agencies were able to fall back on time-tested disaster management strategies and procedures. Evacuation routes from the city were already in place. Emergency services workers mobilized and were organized quickly. Law enforcement agencies were prepared with the proper equipment, training and planning to stem looting, rioting and assist in the original eradication sweeps. State and federal authorities were quick to dispatch the National Guard and the CDC en masse to aid in all areas of the disaster management process. Communications networks and even the power stayed on almost the entire time, allowing for a much smoother overall management and clean-up effort.


This brings us to the recent outbreak in Russia. Russia is still one of the largest nations in the world. But, like China, much of its wealth and power is derived from a few key, heavily populated industrial areas. The rest of the nation is typically quite rural and poorly developed. If there had been just one good, solid road to be had anywhere near Biysk, the evacuation and containment of the outbreak would have been far easier, quicker and would have taken a much smaller toll on human lives. Additionally, poor census records and the utter confusion of the situation means that there is a very real possibility that there are reanimates that have yet to be discovered or could be roaming the rough lands surrounding the town, further risking a secondary infection or even spreading the contagion into other areas of the country. Had there been even minimal disaster planning in the area, much of this could have been alleviated before Reanimate Zero ever appeared. The situation in Biysk could have been a flash flood, a wild fire or even an outbreak of a more common disease. Aside from the obvious yet relatively minor differences associated with the undead the people of the region would have faired no differently. There still would have been no road, there still would have been no plans for emergency shelter, food, water and medical care. If the area was unprepared for these “normal” disasters, who is really surprised that a necro-mortosis outbreak left them completely paralyzed?


Every natural disaster has its unique needs, but at their base they share enough common factors that they can be planned for. Every nation in the world needs to analyze how the Miami outbreak was handled. It is for the most part a textbook example of how already-conceived disaster management plans can be applied to a necro-mortosis outbreak. The plague is a relatively new natural disaster with a human element that while can’t be denied absolutely must be controlled. Much of the world already has the tools to deal with disasters. Now, it needs to look to the left of those tools to see how those plans would be of use in an outbreak situation.


Art

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Arthur Helms is a syndicated columnist who has dealt with a host of social and political issues. His previous syndicated column, “Logic, Please?” offered commentary on a host of world-view issues as seen through the cold yet bright light of plain logic, demonstrated fact and simple common sense.

While the academic and political elite often dismissed his commentary as “too simplistic” for our complicated times, his books of collected columns and hundreds of national speaking engagements each year attest to his connection to a readership yearning for simple answers to complex issues. Helms recently ended his syndicated column to sign on exclusively with Zombie World News, providing a fresh, logical,
plain-English view of the plague and to bring some common sense to what many perceive to be a senseless situation.

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