It now looks certain that Hurricane Katrina will push fuel prices - and air fares - up through the roof.
Hurricane Katrina has just killed hundreds of people, and it could well be thousands of people that we don't know about already. But now the awful diseases we've all heard of in Third World countries - Cholera and Typhoid - look all set to hit flood affected areas in Alabama, Louisiana and the Mississippi.
Fuel costs are going to skyrocket...
The chances of the US getting their fuel production back to normal quickly now have disappeared. The US has two giant disasters to try and cope with. The Hurricane/Flood and it's associated damage and public health dangers. And now a major interruption to the nation's fuel supplies.
It might have taken a month to get fuel supplies in the US back to normal if Hurricane Katrina were a mere run-of-the mill disaster. But it wasn't. Hurricane Katrina looks like she's the biggest natural calamity the US has ever faced. There are hundreds of thousands of people displaced, and that's mind-boggling.
Even with the vast wealth the United States has at its disposal, the world's biggest military machine and some of the world's top civil defense and rescue specialists, the US has a really tough road ahead to help the people of the affected southern states, and especially New Orleans and Biloxi.
The US still needs its fuel, so world fuel prices, and everyone else's air fares are likely to hit heights we've never seen before... and heaven only knows how long fuel prices will stay high.
There are just too many factors in the big puzzle.
The immediate victims of Hurricane Katrina are the hundreds, maybe thousands, who have died already. But the displaced survivors now face an even bigger danger... from
Here we have people from the world's richest country who have suddenly found themselves faced by a common Third World danger.
The survivors are in an environment with contaminated water. You can't drink the water anymore because it's contaminated by sewage, bodies and toxic chemicals. And with everything flooded, how will anyone boil water to make it safe to drink?
How will the Hurricane Katrina survivors maintain personal cleanliness (vital to keep off diseases) and how will they get safe food?
Electricity is down in thousands of homes, so many have no cooking, lighting, fuel or even communications... That is a disaster I don't think the US has faced before.
Shelter and drinking water are the first priorities now for the survivors. (Most people don't realize a healthy human being can last up to one whole month without any food at all.) It's not fun and I don't recommend it to anyone. But it is possible.
But you can only last two days without drinking water, and maybe less without shelter from the elements.
Katrina has been a disaster for the USA, and now it could well be an end to cheap fuel prices that we've taken for granted. You can expect air fares to start going up almost immediately as well.
If you're thinking of air travel now, I don't know if there are any cheap air fares left. Parhaps it's the time to grab yours now.
David Harvey is a retired journalist who lives in Sydney Australia. He is the publisher of several websites including http://www.dirt-cheap-airline-tickets.info - a great source for the cheapest air fares on the web.
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