A trip to New Orleans last week by more than 100 Oregonians was called a Flight of Friendship. Certainly, it was that and more.
The trip was a showing of compassion for a community that was devastated by severe hurricanes in the summer of 2005, but 19 months later still is frozen in misery as federal relief efforts remain ponderously slow and ineffective.
For most Portlanders, including those who participated in the Flight of Friendship, the continuing tribulation experienced in New Orleans should serve as a lesson.
While Portland may never suffer a flood of such consequence, this region could experience the devastation of a major earthquake or windstorm or a volcanic eruption on Mount Hood.
How would Portland fare and its residents suffer? How long would the effects of the devastation last? How would local agencies, nonprofits and citizens respond? How long would it take the federal government to respond? And how effective would that response be?
Portland and regional governments do have emergency response plans - New Orleans did, too.
The lessons from Portlanders' Flight of Friendship last week include the importance of being compassionate and caring for others, and the need to make certain that this community is well-prepared to deal with disaster and not suffer as long or as severely as New Orleans has.