ENCORE: The Logistics of Disaster Relief

There has been a major natural disaster – Hurricane Harvey and subsequent flooding – in the US State of Texas this week. Many individuals and institutions are now scrambling to provide relief to the victims in the area.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” – The Golden Rule

This is very neighborly. Those of you who can give, please give of your “time, talent and treasuries”.

But please be logical in your giving. Certain items would really be inappropriate at this time; think: clothes, toys, etc.. In fact, this previous Go Lean commentary detailed the entire discussion of inappropriate disaster relief gifts. Consider here-now, this Encore of that previous commentary:


Go Lean CommentaryThe Logistics of Disaster Relief

It is during the worst of times that we see the best in people.

This statement needs to be coupled with the age old proverb: “The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions“…

… especially when it comes to disaster relief.

In previous blog-commentaries promoting the book Go Lean…Caribbean, it was established that “bad things happen to good people”; (i.e. ‘Crap Happens’ – So What Now?, Managing a ‘Clear and Present Danger’). Yes, disasters are a reality for modern life. The Go Lean book posits that with the emergence of Climate Change  that natural disasters are more common place.

In addition there are earthquakes …

… these natural phenomena may not be associated with Climate Change, but alas, they too are more common and more destructive nowadays. (People with a Christian religious leanings assert that “an increase of earthquakes is a tell-tale sign that we are living in what the Bible calls the “Last Days” – Matthew 24: 7).

$500 Million In Haiti Relief - Photo 1The motives of the Go Lean book, and accompanying blogs is not to proselytize, but rather to prepare the Caribbean region for “bad actors”, natural or man-made. The book was written in response to the aftermath and deficient regional response following the great earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010. Many Non-Government Organizations (NGO) embarked on campaigns to shoulder a response, a relief and rebuilding of Haiti. Many people hold the view that those efforts did a lot of harm, along with some good.

In a previous blog-commentary, it was reported how the fundraising campaign by one group, the American Red Cross, raised almost US$500 million and yet only a “piddling” was spent on the victims and communities themselves.

Now we learn too that many good-intentioned people donated tons of relief supplies that many times turned out to be “more harm than help”. See the story here in this news VIDEO; (and/or the Narration Transcript/photos in the Appendix below):

VIDEO – When disaster relief brings anything but relief – http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/disaster-relief-donations-that-dont-bring-relief

Posted April 24, 2016 – Many of the well-meaning articles Americans donate in times of disaster turn out to be of no use to those in need. Sometimes, they even get in the way. That’s a message relief organizations very much want “us” to heed. This story is reported by Scott Simon, [on loan from] NPR. (VIDEO plays best in Internet Explorer).

This commentary asserts that more is needed in the Caribbean to facilitate good disaster relief, in particular a technocratic administration. This consideration is the focus of the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies of the Go Lean…Caribbean book. The declaration is that the Caribbean itself must be agile, lean, and optimized in providing its own solutions for disaster recovery. The alternative, from past experiences like in this foregoing VIDEO, is that others taking the lead for our solution seem to fall short in some way … almost every time!

The Caribbean must now stand up and be counted!

The Go Lean book declares (Page 115) that the “Caribbean should not be perennial beggars, [even though] we do need capital/money to get started”, we need technocratic executions even more.

What is a technocracy?

This is the quest of the Go Lean movement. The movement calls for a treaty to form a technocratic confederation of all the 30 member-states in the Caribbean region. This will form a Single Market of 42 million. The consolidation and integration allows for economies-of-scale and leverage that would not be possible otherwise. “Many hands make a big job … small”. But it is not just size that will define the Caribbean technocracy but quality, efficiency and optimization as well.

According to the Go Lean book (Page 64), the …

“… term technocracy was originally used to designate the application of the scientific method to solving social and economic problems, in counter distinction to the traditional political or philosophic approaches. The CU must start as a technocratic confederation – a Trade Federation – rather than evolving to this eventuality due to some failed-state status or insolvency.”

The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU) to provide better stewardship for the Caribbean homeland. The foregoing VIDEO describes the efforts of non-governmental organizations (NGO) in shepherding disaster reliefs. These NGO’s are stakeholders in this Caribbean elevation roadmap. Even though many of the 30 member-states are independent nations, the premise of the Go Lean book is that there must be a resolve for interdependence among the governmental and non-governmental entities. This all relates to governance, the need for this new technocratic stewardship of regional Caribbean society. The need for this resolve was pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 11 & 14) with these acknowledgements and statements:

i.    Whereas the earth’s climate has undeniably changed resulting in more severe tropical weather storms, it is necessary to prepare to insure the safety and security of life, property and systems of commerce in our geographical region. As nature recognizes no borders in the target of its destruction, we also must set aside border considerations in the preparation and response to these weather challenges.

ii.    Whereas the natural formation of the landmass for our lands constitutes some extreme seismic activity, it is our responsibility and ours alone to provide, protect and promote our society to coexist, prepare and recover from the realities of nature’s occurrences.

x.   Whereas we are surrounded and allied to nations of larger proportions in land mass, populations, and treasuries, elements in their societies may have ill-intent in their pursuits, at the expense of the safety and security of our citizens. We must therefore appoint “new guards” to ensure our public safety and threats against our society, both domestic and foreign. The Federation must employ the latest advances and best practices … to assuage continuous threats against public safety.

xi.   Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xii. Whereas the legacy in recent times in individual states may be that of ineffectual governance with no redress to higher authority, the accedence of this Federation will ensure accountability and escalation of the human and civil rights of the people for good governance, justice assurances, due process and the rule of law. As such, any threats of a “failed state” status for any member state must enact emergency measures on behalf of the Federation to protect the human, civil and property rights of the citizens, residents, allies, trading partners, and visitors of the affected member state and the Federation as a whole.

xxxiii.   Whereas lessons can be learned and applied from the study of the recent history of other societies, the Federation must formalize statutes and organizational dimensions to avoid the pitfalls of [other] communities.

This is the quest of CU/Go Lean roadmap: to provide new guards for a more competent Caribbean administration … by governmental organizations and non-governmental organizations. (NGO would also be promoted, audited and overseen by CU administrators). The Caribbean must do better!

Our quest must start “in the calm”, before any storm (or earthquake). We must elevate the societal engines the Caribbean region through economic, security and governance empowerments. In general, the CU will employ better strategies, tactics and implementations to impact its prime directives; identified with the following 3 statements:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines and the Caribbean homeland.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines.

Former US President George W. Bush shares this advocacy!

He narrated this VIDEO here describing the efficiencies of the American logistics company, UPS, in delivering disaster relief:

VIDEO – Report Logistics and Haiti: Points of Light and President Bush – https://youtu.be/8-gmh1QyWTU

Uploaded on Mar 30, 2011 – [In 2009], Transportation Manager Chip Chappelle volunteered to help The UPS Foundation coordinate an ocean shipment of emergency tents from Indiana to Honduras. Since then, he has managed the logistics of humanitarian aid from every corner of the world to help the victims of floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes and cyclones.

The Go Lean book stresses our own community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies necessary for the Caribbean to deliver, to provide the proactive and reactive public safety/security provisions in the region. See sample list here:

Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principles – Respond to Incentives in Predictable Ways Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principles – Economic Systems Influence Individual Choices Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principles – Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Security Principles – Whistleblower Protection Page 23
Community Ethos – Security Principles – Intelligence Gathering Page 23
Community Ethos – Security Principles – “Crap” Happens Page 23
Community Ethos – Governing Principles – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Governing Principles – Return on Investments Page 24
Community Ethos – Governing Principles – Cooperatives Page 25
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact Turn-Arounds Page 33
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Sharing – Emergency Response Page 35
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Confederate all 30 member-states/ 4 languages into a Single Market Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Prepare for the eventuality of natural disasters Page 45
Strategy – Agents of Change – Climate Change Page 57
Tactical – Ways to Foster a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Growing the Economy – Post WW II European Marshall Plan/Recovery Model Page 68
Tactical – Separation-of-Powers – CU Federal Government versus Member-State Governance Page 71
Tactical – Separation-of-Powers – Homeland Security – Emergency Management Page 76
Tactical – Separation-of-Powers – State Department – Liaison/Oversight for NGO’s Page 80
Implementation – Assemble All Regionally-focus Organizations of All Caribbean Communities Page 96
Implementation – Ways to Pay for Change Page 101
Implementation – Ways to Foster International Aid Page 115
Planning – 10 Big Ideas – Homeland Security Pact Page 127
Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Planning – Ways to Improve Failed-State Indices – Governance and the Social Contract Page 134
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Housing – Hurricane Risk Reinsurance Fund Page 161
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 168
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Homeland Security Page 180
Advocacy – Ways to Improve for Natural Disasters Page 184
Advocacy – Ways to Develop a Pre-Fab Housing Industry – One solution ideal for Haiti Page 207
Advocacy – Ways to Re-boot Haiti Page 238

The Go Lean roadmap seeks to empower and elevate Caribbean societal engines to be better prepared for the eventual natural disasters. The good intentions of Americans, as depicted in the foregoing VIDEO, is encouraging … but good intentions alone is not enough. We need good management! We need a technocracy! While it is out-of-scope for this roadmap to impact America, we can – and must – exercise good management in our Caribbean region. So what do we want from Americans in our time of need? See VIDEO here:

VIDEO – Donate Responsibly – https://youtu.be/14h9_9sopRA

Published on Nov 2, 2012 – A series of PSAs released by the Ad Council explain why cash is the best way to help. The campaign was launched on November 5, 2012 by the Ad Council and supported by the coalition — which includes CIDI, the U.S. Agency for International Development, InterAction, the UPS Foundation and National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.

The Go Lean book calls on the Caribbean region to be more technocratic: collectively self-reliant, both proactively and reactively. Because of Climate Change or the Last Days, natural disasters (i.e. hurricanes and earthquakes) will occur again and again. Considering that our American neighbors may Pave our Road to Hell with Good Intentions, we need to prepare the right strategies, tactics and implementations ourselves, to make our region a better homeland to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix Transcript – When disaster relief brings anything but relief

When Nature grows savage and angry, Americans get generous and kind. That’s admirable. It might also be a problem.

“Generally after a disaster, people with loving intentions donate things that cannot be used in a disaster response, and in fact may actually be harmful,” said Juanita Rilling, director of the Center for International Disaster Information in Washington, D.C. “And they have no idea that they’re doing it.”

Rilling has spent more than a decade trying to tell well-meaning people to think before they give.

In 1998 Hurricane Mitch struck Honduras. More than 11,000 people died. More than a million and a half were left homeless.

And Rilling got a wake-up call: “Got a call from one of our logistics experts who said that a plane full of supplies could not land, because there was clothing on the runway. It’s in boxes and bales. It takes up yards of space. It can’t be moved.’ ‘Whose clothing is it?’ He said, ‘Well, I don’t know whose it is, but there’s a high-heeled shoe, just one, and a bale of winter coats.’ And I thought, winter coats? It’s summer in Honduras.”

Humanitarian workers call the crush of useless, often incomprehensible contributions “the second disaster.”

In 2004, following the Indian Ocean tsunami, a beach in Indonesia was piled with used clothing.

There was no time for disaster workers to sort and clean old clothes. So the contributions just sat and rotted.

CU Blog - Logistics of Disaster Relief - Photo 1“This very quickly went toxic and had to be destroyed,” said Rilling. “And local officials poured gasoline on it and set it on fire. And then it was out to sea.”

“So, rather than clothing somebody, it went up in flames?” asked Simon.

“Correct. The thinking is that these people have lost everything, so they must NEED everything. So people SEND everything. You know, any donation is crazy if it’s not needed. People have donated prom gowns and wigs and tiger costumes and pumpkins, and frostbite cream to Rwanda, and used teabags, ’cause you can always get another cup of tea.”

You may not think that sending bottles of water to devastated people seems crazy. But Rilling points out, “This water, it’s about 100,000 liters, will provide drinking water for 40,000 people for one day. This amount of water to send from the United States, say, to West Africa — and people did this — costs about $300,000. But relief organizations with portable water purification units can produce the same amount, a 100,000 liters of water, for about $300.”

And then there were warm-hearted American women who wanted to send their breast milk to nursing mothers in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

“It sounds wonderful, but in the midst of a crisis it’s actually one of the most challenging things,” said Rebecca Gustafson, a humanitarian aid expert who has worked on the ground after many disasters.

“Breast milk doesn’t stay fresh for very long. And the challenge is, what happens if you do give it to an infant who then gets sick?”

CU Blog - Logistics of Disaster Relief - Photo 2December 2012, Newtown, Connecticut: A gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Almost instantaneously, stuff start arriving.

Chris Kelsey, who worked for Newtown at the time, said they had to get a warehouse to hold all the teddy bears.

Simon asked, “Was there a need for teddy bears?”

“I think it was a nice gesture,” Kelsey replied. “There was a need to do something for the kids. There was a need to make people feel better. I think the wave of stuff we got was a little overwhelming in the end.”

And how many teddy bear came to Newtown? “I think it was about 67,000,” Kelsey said. “Wasn’t limited to teddy bears. There was also thousands of boxes of school supplies, and thousands of boxes of toys, bicycles, sleds, clothes.”

Newtown had been struck by mass murder, not a tsunami. As Kelsey said, “I think a lot of the stuff that came into the warehouse was more for the people that sent it, than it was for the people in Newtown. At least, that’s the way it felt at the end.”

Every child in Newtown got a few bears. The rest had to be sent away, along with the bikes and blankets.

CU Blog - Logistics of Disaster Relief - Photo 3There are times when giving things works. More than 650,000 homes were destroyed or damaged in Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Thousands of people lost everything.

Tammy Shapiro is one of the organizers of Occupy Sandy, which grew out of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

“We were able to respond in a way that the big, bureaucratic agencies can’t,” Shapiro said.

When the hurricane struck, they had a network of activists, connected and waiting.

“Very quickly, we just stopped taking clothes,” Shapiro said. Instead, they created a “relief supply wedding registry.”

“We put the items that we needed donated on that registry,” said Shapiro. “And then people who wanted to donate could buy the items that were needed. I mean, a lot of what we had on the wedding registry was diapers. They needed flashlights.”

Simon asked, “How transportable is your experience here, following Hurricane Sandy?”

“For me, the network is key. Who has the knowledge? Where are spaces that goods can live if there’s a disaster? Who’s really well-connected on their blocks?”

Juanita Rilling’s album of disaster images shows shot after shot of good intentions just spoiling in warehouses, or rotting on the landscape.

“It is heartbreaking,” Rilling said. “It’s heartbreaking for the donor, it’s heartbreaking for the relief organizations, and it’s heartbreaking for survivors. This is why cash donations are so much more effective. They buy exactly what people need, when they need it.

“And cash donations enable relief organizations to purchase supplies locally, which ensures that they’re fresh and familiar to survivors, purchased in just the right quantities, and delivered quickly. And those local purchases support the local merchants, which strengthens the local economy for the long run.”

Disaster response worker Rebecca Gustafson says that most people want to donate something that is theirs: “Money sometimes doesn’t feel personal enough for people. They don’t feel enough of their heart and soul is in that donation, that check that they would send.

“The reality is, it’s one of the most compassionate things that people can do.”

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