Lessons From a Natural Disaster: Jon Mooallem

The great Alaskan earthquake on Good Friday, March 27th, 1964, was surprising, and the lessons from the response are helpful in understanding how we respond to the COVID pandemic today.


"The earthquake overwhelmed people the way the strongest emotions do," wrote our guest, Jon Mooallem recently in The New York Times. "It was pure sensation, coming on faster than the intellect's ability to register it." 


A big theme of Jon's new book, "This Is Chance!" is how the citizens of Anchorage almost instantly became "a wave of unofficial first responders." Despite officials' fears of panic, looting and violence, many people rose to the occasion, with countless acts of kindness. The crime rate plummeted, just as it has in recent weeks in New York.


The story also includes a riveting account of the role played by local KENI radio reporter Genie Chance. The personal messages that she passed on from the local police and fire station spread vital information and helped local citizens make sense of the disaster they were living through. 


Recommendations: Jim is listening to the music of singer-songwriter, Jon Prine, who died recently of COVID-19. He also recommends the TV miniseries, "Devs", on FX, written and directed by Alex Garland.


 

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