There's a lesson learned by every Boy Scout, if he learns anything at all, which is reflected in the motto: "Be Prepared." Someone once asked the Founder, Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell, for what should a Scout be prepared. His answer was, essentially -- anything.
From the day I moved out to be on my own, there has always been camping and survival equipment stored in my closet. I'll admit it's not all packed in one container, ready to grab as I fly out the door. But in an hour, I can be ready with enough to survive for two to three days all in one backpack; with first aid equipment, extra wool socks (which stay warm even when wet), extra briefs and can be rinsed and drip-dried for repeat wearing, non-perishable whole-grain food items for eating on the run, MREs (meals ready to eat, military issue), a hunting/survival knife, emergency rescue blanket, flashlight, batteries, a radio, a parka with extra survival goods packed in case the pack gets lost or stolen... did I leave anything out?
Oh, yeah, I'd bring my guitar along if possible. The traveling model.
(By the way, you know how to make matches waterproof? It's easy. You get those wooden stick kind that come in the big boxes, and paint them at the top end with clear nail polish. Keep them in a little waterproof container, or a little tin. That way, when you need them and even if they're all wet, just wipe them dry and strike on the appropriate surface. You're good to go.)
In addition to the usual roadside emergency stuff, I keep a couple of lengths of good, strong rope in my car. I also keep a woolen blanket in the back seat, and a couple of emergency survival blankets in the glove compartment.
I have never, EVER, lived on on a flood plain. You can't control Mother Nature. If enough rains falls, all the "flood control" efforts upstream won't stop the water from settling in the lowest place. And believe you me, water always finds the lowest place. And it stays there, till it decides to leave.
In New Orleans, the police looked the other way as looters walked off with groceries. But they failed to stem the onslaught of sub-human creatures who walked off with television sets, VCRs, cartloads of designer athletic shoes, and other luxury items. These neanderthals are the same ones who are gonna bitch about why the city takes so long to clean up after them.
It is said that one-fourth of the NO population is below the poverty line. Most of them live in the low-lying area of the city, which was hardest hit by the flooding. Perhaps the greatest shame of poverty is not the loss of material goods, but the loss of human dignity. The knowledge that others have what one does not, is enough to dampen the spirits of the weaker among us. In despair, they take what they can get, heedless of the cost to themselves or others, and to the devastation of the following day.
It is that devastation which is the result of their own lack of foresight. But is it not also the result of a culture that places value on the wrong things? What sort of example is set by those who have, for those who have not? Without question, those who do the looting cannot be excused. But might their stealing of luxury items be considered the lesson taught by those who prosper, and display as much to the point of excess? Is there an irony in the prospect that the latter may include some of those from whom the goods are looted?