Clark gauges the human and economic toll of Hurricane Isaac

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I’ve been asked again and again about the economic impact of Hurricane Isaac.

But I’m finding it hard to focus on that. When I look at major roadways like Highway 90 being washed out and I see all the other destruction around the Gulf Coast, my heart goes out to those people.

Seven years ago, when my youngest child was only two days old, I was called up for active duty by the state guard to do hurricane relief amid the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.

At first, I was assigned to med-evac duty on a flight line at Dobbins Air Force base in Marietta, Ga. I was part of a contingent of 260 soldiers carrying injured, wounded, and ill people off stretchers and doing triage before sending them to area hospitals.

But pretty soon I went down to New Orleans on a flight mission to evacuate those who were supposed to be in better shape. They weren’t.

I remember going down with a three-day supply of MREs and water to hand out to people. I wound up giving it all away at the airport within 15 minutes because so many had not had anything to eat and very little to drink in days.

The people we evacuated turned out to all be med-evacs. We had somebody go into cardiac arrest and another go into diabetic shock during the evacuation.

I have had trouble getting past this experience. We as country didn’t shine with how we handled Hurricane Katrina. I could have easily said to my superior officer, “I have a new baby, I shouldn’t go.” But my wife said, “Go help those people.”

So far, the coordination on the federal, state, and local level has been much better this time around with Hurricane Isaac.

Not suprisingly, much of the media coverage of Hurricane Isaac has been centered around New Orleans. But there are other areas that don’t get the reporters that are hurting even worse.

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On the economic front, I will tell you the economic effects won’t be as bad as everyone was fearing. Oil prices are already receding as the refineries are not taking major hits and the drilling rigs in the Gulf look to be fine.

Mother Nature can be harsh. The question is, what do we do as a country? I want to express to people in the affected areas that I’m there with you in spirit, as are all your fellow Americans.



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