Friday, September 02, 2005

A matter of scale

I have been thinking a lot about the hurricane victims and considering the problems faced by rescuers.  It seems to me that, aside from the inherent difficulties in rescuing people from areas that are horrible – flood, disease, etc. – a big part of the problem is simply a matter of scale.  There are just too many people who need help for this to be done quickly.  Let’s consider the super dome with 20,000 people inside.  They all need to be bussed out of there.  How many people can a bus hold?  Let’s say 40.  That means we need 500 busses.  If the roads are closed and there is one route in and we can only load one bus at a time, how long does it take to load a bus?  Let’s say 10 minutes.  That means 5000 minutes of loading – that’s 83 hours.  Even if we double the speed at which busses can load that’s two full days of just loading people on busses.  That doesn’t account for the idea that the busses may not be available or the fuel for them might not be available.

I’m not saying the people in charge are doing it right – I don’t know and I’m in no position to judge because all I see is the devastation and frustration of the people there.  But I do know that rescuing 100,000 people is a lot different than rescuing 10 – when the numbers get this big it is a whole different problem.  

I hope and pray that things get a lot better soon.

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