By DEWEY F. BARTLETT, JR.
Mayor of Tulsa
The snowstorm disaster of 2011 is full of messages and lessons for all of us. For some, it’s a message of opportunity to help others. For others it’s recognizing that the power of nature is more any person or government could ever prepare for. As I reflect on what I learned over those 10 days I have these observations:
1. You will never have a complaint-free disaster. Some people can tolerate and ride out disastrous change. Others have difficulty dealing with the disruption of their routines. People don’t like nature changing their schedules.
2. People believe that government can man up and gear up to beat what God puts on a city even when you put every person, every piece of equipment and every resource you have into action.
3. Regardless of the severity of the disaster, people will think you should have been better prepared. That somehow you could out-guess, out-plan, and out-smart that which has never happened before.
4. People will say they have patience as long as you remember that they’re number one.
5. You can tell people what to do or not do to survive the disaster but when they don’t listen, they blame you.
6. You can always count on someone politicizing a disaster for his or her gain.
7. Monday morning quarterbacking always reaches an all time high. Those that know the least will act like they know the most. Some become experts over night.
8. Disasters are emotional. People would rather have opinions than have the facts.
9. Managing the effects of a disaster looks simple when you don’t have any of the storm management responsibility and some don’t appreciate those that do.
10. Disasters will bring out the best in people. Employers taking care of employees, public servants going the extra mile, and strangers helping strangers.
11. Even with 4,000 road miles to work, people mostly care about the road in front of their house.
12. The City was never close to running out of salt or sand, though some attempted to promote that fear in our citizens.
But a great deal of good was done because the disaster brought the best out of people:
1. Though the storm, blizzard and sub zero temperatures were of historic proportions, no one died as a result of the storm. That’s because your neighbors took care of one another.
2. Truck drivers kept driving to bring food and supplies to Tulsa.
3. Volunteers got people their critically needed medical care by going into neighborhoods to take care of them.
4. Neighbors shoveled their own streets because they realized it’s not only the government’s job to take care of your street.
5. The employees of the City of Tulsa are the best anywhere. Without complaint, they worked around the clock 10 days straight putting the citizens of Tulsa’s welfare above everything in their personal lives.
6. The City of Tulsa, Tulsa County and the surrounding cities all worked together like never before. Disasters don’t stop at the city limits.
7. TV and radio stations kept the news coming by putting their employees up in hotels so they could easily return to work and report on the developing disaster.
8. The Police and Fire Department went the extra mile to rescue stranded motorists.
Disasters of any type put a great deal of strain on all aspects of a community. It’s not about winning or losing. It shouldn’t be about blaming or complaining. Things always happen for a reason. For me, that reason is that they pull people together and pull the best out of people. That’s the Tulsa I am so proud of.
- — MERYL Mar 11, 06:27 PM #