Letter: Another type of hurricane on horizon

We are getting into the heart of hurricane season here in south Louisiana. But we take great comfort from the fact that we have excellent weather forecasters who give us enough warning so that we can take appropriate measures to protect our lives and our property. Great progress has been made in this area, and we are all the better off for it.

There is another type of hurricane coming that we seem to be mostly unaware of. It’s not connected to weather but it has the potential to disrupt our lives in much the same way.

What I’m talking about is the economic hurricane that is just over the horizon for which we are largely unprepared.

Economic forecasts are notoriously inaccurate, even more so than Gulf hurricanes, but if even half of the large petrochemical projects that have been announced for southern Louisiana are actually built we are in for a hard blow. Some of what’s on the horizon:

1. Complaints from under-skilled workers that much of the work is going to out-of-state workers.

2. Complaints that the infrastructure in Louisiana is not adequate to support the work that is going on.

3. The growth of corruption in the private sector, in local government and in state government due to all of the money sloshing around.

4. Much worse traffic.

5. Overloading of both public and private schools.

6. Strain on all local services such as DPW and police.

7. Complaints from out-of-state workers that housing is totally inadequate and too expensive.

8. A general inability of parishes that are already struggling with explosive growth to deal with a drastic acceleration of that growth.

We don’t have to let this economic hurricane find us totally unprepared.

The governor should convene a group composed of the best minds from the parishes that will be most affected and challenge them with the task of making recommendations to prepare for this economic typhoon and make sure that the state’s reputation gets a great boost from the event instead of a black eye.

Jack Harris

retired chemical engineer

Baton Rouge