Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dunwoody Needs to Save Money and You Need to be Prepared

Recent events in the USA have shown us how vulnerable we (as a city and as individuals) are in regards to weather-related events.  From destructive wild fires in Texas to tornadoes in Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, etc. people's lives have been forever altered.
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

What can you do personally to prepare?  There are plenty of books and blogs out there with instructions on things to keep around the house.  My first suggestion is a fire-rated safe for documents (birth certificates, insurance policies, car titles, at least one bank statement per account, at least one statement per other money/retirement accounts, etc.).  I think it's also a good idea to back up computer stuff (including all those digital photos) to an external hard drive and keep it in the safe.  Find a floor safe that can be anchored to your floor. Although we are fairly safe from a tsunami here in Dunwoody, here's a story about safes washed  ashore in Japan. A tornado that rips off your roof could turn your metal safe into a Frisbee.  Take the extra time and secure it to a concrete floor.

AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

The biggest demand for people in the tornado-stricken area is fresh drinking water.  Go to Costco and buy a few cases of bottled water (and also buy it in the gallon jug size).  Keep two cases per person in stock, and rotate your stock as needed.  I think it's a good idea to have a water purification plan in place.  Consider buying a Katadyn brand water filter.  I suggest the Katadyn Pocket.  For those of you who hike and camp, it's a worthwhile purchase.  Food?  Water is way more important than food, but you'll need to eat in the event it takes a couple of days to get supply chains in order. Canned goods is all you need.  Canned soups store well and provide nourishment and fluids both (put a can opener in your safe).

What about our city?  How can/should city leaders prepare?  Number one is having money in the bank.  Although there are Federal Government programs out there in case of emergencies (declared disasters) why put your fate in the hands of the Feds?  FEMA seems quick to act to disasters outside the USA, but many complain of slow domestic response times.  The US Government spent $44.9 BILLION in foreign aid in fiscal year 2009.  $11 billion for military, $33.9 billion in economic assistance.  $44 billion would go a long way in rebuilding Joplin, Tuscaloosa, and other areas. But let's get back to reality. 

If disaster hits Dunwoody I'm sure we'd witness hundreds of volunteers showing up to aid residents.  But what about rebuilding infrastructure?  Could we hire crews to clear roads, repave roads, and fix storm-water systems?  Having a nice reserve on hand makes sense when Federal Government red tape would hinder quick progress.  I'm not suggesting the city stash $20 million under a mattress, waiting for a tornado.  Other needs may present themselves.  Just as a family should have perhaps a year's worth of reserves in the bank (is that what Clark Howard says?) the city should maintain a bit of a surplus.  Of course we need not go to the extreme of raising taxes to simply build an enormous reserve.  But many in our city are rightfully questioning the need/want of the city to take on over $100 million in debt for parks.

I'd like to see some basic improvements to our parks, no doubt.  But I don't see the need for residents to bankroll the building of a baseball complex to the tune of $8 million.  Our county taxes are increasing, as is your water bill.  The school board may do the same. Let's secure the $7 million DeKalb owes us for Brook Run and use those funds as required (for Brook Run). $7 million will not build a baseball complex for metro Atlanta's needs, but it will be enough for basic improvements and ongoing maintenance.

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