There’s a change in my ways of thinking that occurred because of my experiences with Katrina. I know that it has happened to others as well.
It’s not quite post-traumatic stress disorder, maybe a step below. I notice it in little things. For instance…
I had a safe deposit box in the Chase at the corner of Carrollton and Claiborne (in New Orleans). It was just below shoulder level for me, probably some 5 feet or so above the ground. The water got up to about 3 feet in that area. Contrary to my expectations, the vault was not watertight, or was not closed before the flood (I think it was the former). I never went back into that bank — Chase pulled the boxes from all of their flooded safes and put them in a warehouse, where people could go get their boxes. As soon as I walked in, my eyes went wide.
All of the box units (probably 10 boxes across by 20 or 30 high) had distinct lines on them. Above the lines, the units looked normal. Below, they looked awful. They were dirty and terribly rusted. I had to sign something before accessing my box, acknowledging that I might find… undesirable stuff in my box. Luckily, as I noted above, mine was out of the reach of the flood waters.
When I got a new safe deposit box here in Baltimore, I made sure it was as high as possible. It’s almost entirely irrational. This part of town is high up on a hill, and it’s not ever likely to flood.
But it can’t hurt.
I was already paranoid about offsite and portable backups of computer data before the hurricane. That partly saved my ass, but I’ve noticed that others are now becoming more careful about backups as well.
I don’t want to buy stuff. I moved an average of once every two months from April 2005 to August 2006. I want all of my stuff to fit in a U-Haul van (not a truck, the plumber/carpenter/etc type utility van). Every time I think about buying something, I can’t help but think about the fact that it might disappear due to some disaster or another. Even though my stuff is insured, why go through the bother of acquiring things if I’m just going to have to replace them later?
This is also irrational — massive natural disasters, and even catastrophic house fires do not happen very often to a single person. If this were really a hindrance, I’d work to overcome my irrationality. Since it lines up with my budget and desire for minimalism, I’m not fighting it much. If something gets really inconvenient not to have, I’ll buy it.
There are other things, here and there. As I mentioned in an old post, Katrina gave me a good solid reminder about impermanence. Other Katrina survivors (and I use the term loosely), have you noticed similar tendencies in your own thinking?
Katrina will effect you forever. I survived Betsy in NOLA and even though I live in Hammond now (40 feet above sea level) I put an axe by my attic stairs before Katrina hit. You never can be too careful.