The Editor's Message
Hello and welcome to the October issue of The Quill! Hurricane season is here, at least for the American Gulf Coast, and, in the wake of the terrible devastation of Katrina
and Rita, I find myself thinking about the vital role of communications in our lives.
Evacuate, but how?
Unlike the tsunami last boxing day, we had warning these weather systems were coming, and that New Orleans was in grave danger of being "drowned" by a category 4 or 5 hurricane.
The Discovery channel ran programs on it—in fact my husband saw a program just a week before the storm hit. Clearly, the knowledge was there, but was this communicated to the people it affected most? I don't think
so. The working poor, and the poor in health were left in the dark—literally.
The government said "evacuate", but they did not provide the means for the majority of the population to get out of New Orleans. The buses did not come until days after
the disaster hit. Pandemonium, violence, looting, and unspeakable human behaviour ensued. The air was thick with frustration and anger. Even the mayor had a few choice words for the politicians who were
unable to jump in and help because they were too busy talking to television cameras.
Rita makes her entrance...
Did we learn from this? When Rita came along a few weeks later, people certainly paid more attention to it. And, there were plenty of buses to evacuate the affected cities—Houston and Galveston. The problem now was that the highways were so jammed, no one could get anywhere very quickly. People ran out of gas, and were pushing or abandoning their cars just to get out of the line of Rita's fire. The exodus was painfully slow, and horribly disorganized. Again, people were angry and frustrated.
Maybe in this day and age of seemingly endless possibilities of communicating, we have taken communication for granted. We give people half the story, and expect them to figure out the rest. As leaders, you need to back up your words with actions—plan, write, review, test, edit—and make sure you know AND provide the means to reach the audience.
Don't underestimate the power of communication; it can have a profound effect on lives.
Have any examples you'd like to share about how communications has affected lives? Send your articles, suggestions, and comments to me, Margie, at email@example.com.