Homeland Security Begins at Home
We cant help but thinking that this business of homeland security is full of hucksters and fearmongers.
Many of the doomsday scenarios we hear about are far-fetched indeed, and the antidote, were often told, is to load up on gadgets, gas-masks and enough cellar junk food to keep a Cub Scout pack in a sugar frenzy for a week.
We know theres evil out there and we all need to be alert. But we also believe that planners need to deploy some common sense when considering human lives in an emergency.
In Anne Arundel County, for instance, County Executive Janet Owens is right when she complains that Baltimore has no business sending evacuees our way.
We will have gridlock and panic with the sudden onset of 50,000 cars, immobilizing our roads, she said last week.
Owens said that after Baltimore Mayor Martin OMalley put up evacuation signs aiming motorists to Anne Arundel, she telephoned to say she was thinking of turning those signs around.
Down in Calvert County, trouble at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant would send southern Calvert evacuees south over the soaring Gov. Thomas Johnson bridge into St. Marys County. Northern evacuees, on the other hand, might not resist the temptation to head right past Calvert High School into Anne Arundel.
Those of us who live in Anne Arundel better have clean towels and plenty of beer on hand seeing as how throngs of people will be headed our way from all directions from the D.C. area, too, Owens said. (Except from the east; we think our Eastern Shore cousins have better sense than to head back across the Bay.)
Were heartened about the prospect of much new commerce for our restaurants, motels and small businesses. But we think it might also be appropriate for mayors, county executives and other leaders to coordinate with one another so that we dont end up looking like the Three Stooges in a panic.
We like the shelter-in-place strategy, where people remain at home, work or school until the problem, or the perception of a problem, subsides. Its better for the public good because youre not adding to gridlock and frenzy on the roads. Its better for you because youre not in the midst of the madness.
Its not a bad idea to have water, batteries and such on hand, as were being told, but some folks clearly are over the top.
For instance, we hope you would disregard the woman in published reports who has gathered paint buckets in which she and her family can relieve themselves.
(If youre that frightened, we suggest you head to a marine store and inquire about portable toilets.)
It also might be a good idea to test those battery-operated radios. Wed suggest turning on some classical music or maybe some jazz rather than listening to our breathless brothers and sisters in the media doing their darndest to scare the pants off us.