Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The News Star, Monroe, La., on West Nile virus:
... The list of fatal diseases attributable to the lowly mosquito is such that it can chill laymen and historians alike. Malaria and yellow fever. Dengue fever and various forms of encephalitis. Mosquitoes are estimated to transmit disease to more than 700 million people annually, with millions of resulting deaths.
Through the years, medical research has tamed some of the diseases, but not all. And in northeastern Louisiana, a potential killer is paying its annual visit.
Ouachita Parish is leading the state in cases of West Nile virus. West Nile is transmitted to mosquitoes when they bite infected birds. Mosquitoes then transmit it to people. In most cases, humans who have West Nile are blissfully unaware. It's asymptomatic, and they learn they are carriers only after blood is drawn for a test.
Others experience mild flu-like symptoms. Known as West Nile fever, this form causes no long-term problems.
But for a few unlucky people, more prevalently among older people, the virus takes a potentially deadly form, neuroinvasive West Nile. This year, Ouachita Parish has reported five cases of neuroinvasive disease, Caldwell Parish has two cases. Neuroinvasive disease can lead to death, paralysis and brain damage.
It's serious stuff.
Precautions can, and should be taken to reduce the likelihood of contracting West Nile. ...
We have, in news stories and past editorials, gone over the precautions time and time again. As long as we suffer one case of neuroinvasive West Nile in Ouachita Parish, we'll keep at it. They could save your life. ...
Times-Picayune, New Orleans, on Sandy and storm safety:
The report released in August by the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force would sound very familiar to any Southeast Louisiana resident who picks it up. The opening letter from task force chairman Shaun Donovan, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, could be describing the post-Katrina aftermath here in 2005:
"Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast with incredible power and fury, wreaking havoc in communities across the region. Entire neighborhoods were flooded. Families lost their homes. Businesses were destroyed. Infrastructure was torn apart."
The difference is that flooding here was due to levee breaches, and there it was from surge that swamped coastal communities and pushed a wall of water inland. Thankfully, far fewer people died last October in New York and New Jersey than did in Katrina.
But most of those who died in Sandy drowned and many of the victims were elderly, as in Katrina. ...
In 2012, according to the report, 11 different disasters across the Unites States had losses exceeding $1 billion each. That list would include Hurricane Isaac.
According to Mr. Donovan, every $1 spent on hazard mitigation saves "at least $4 in avoided costs if a disaster strikes again." So, helping communities rebuild to higher standards is in the government's interest as well as residents'.
That is an argument for the federal government to put more money into those investments. ...
Officials from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA and private lenders are working on a unified approach. If they come up with a sensible policy, rebuilding could be easier for storm victims in the future.
The Sandy task force also highlighted the inability for many residents in coastal New Jersey and New York to afford flood insurance under new rules Congress approved last year. As in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast, some insurance policies are about to skyrocket to absurd levels unless FEMA or Congress intervenes.
Some sort of relief on flood insurance is essential. Thousands of residents in Southeast Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast rebuilt after Katrina with the approval of FEMA, and the rules are changing after the fact.
As the task force report shows, all of us who live along the coast face similar threats and challenges. If the Sandy task force pushes federal agencies and Congress to address those needs, we could all benefit.
Houma (La.) Courier Daily Comet on campus safety:
The safety of our local communities is just one of the many things that make our region so unique and such a great place to live.
It should come as no surprise that that safety extends to our local college campuses.
While it should surprise none of us, it is an excellent achievement and one that is confirmed by the numbers.
Both Fletcher Technical Community College and Nicholls State University are among the state's 10 safest college campuses, according to a recent report by StateUniversity.com.
Fletcher came it at No. 2 on the list, and Nicholls State came in at No. 6 — among 44 state schools monitored.
That is something both schools can wear as a source of pride.
As importantly, they can use their impressive rankings as a recruiting tool, making the case to prospective students and their parents that they will be safe on campus if they choose to come here for college. ...
That is an excellent point.
The students at our local schools don't have to spend unnecessary energy worrying unendingly about their safety.
At some state campuses, that is not the case.
Just going to the library or traveling from a dormitory to an off-campus workplace can be an extremely dangerous proposition.
Fortunately, around here, that worry and internal energy can be spent on the proper things — getting the most out of the college experience.
It is easy to sometimes take our special qualities of life for granted. So it is nice to be reminded periodically of how well we stack up compared to other state schools.
With that said, it is important that local students don't lapse into laziness, assuming that all is well. They still have to take all the common-sense precautions their parents have preached to them since they started driving.
The difference here is that with those precautions, there is not the extra worry of a high crime rate.
Another good reason to give thanks for our area.