shark bait wrote: because no one lives at sea
2.4 billion people (40%) currently live within 60 miles of the coast (actually that figure is from when the population was 6 billion - it's now 7.7 billion). I've seen predictions that that will rise to more than 60%, with the population itself heading for between 9.6 and 11.2 billion (the population is estimated to have grown by > 200,000 people TODAY).
Lots of people live near the sea. Even more live along rivers
shark bait wrote: ships are a real shit way of delivering medical capability to the public
Says the person with the benefit of a National Health Service, living in a country where they think that 2 inches of rain in a day is a lot and 80mph is a high wind speed.
Point A - For many people, ships like Comfort and Mercy are the only way they get access to medical care. If we are going to spend a fortune on aid, then medical aid would be number one on my list.
Point B - What do you think is left behind after a Category 5 (or even a category 4 for that matter) hurricane passes over you? Even if the hospitals survive (normally they don't, at least not in working order). Do you think the medical staff are all going to turn up for work all bright and breezy, on time and in their shifts? No they bloody aren't - quite apart from the fact that they may be dead or injured, they have families and friends that they are trying to find, then rescue and help (the Police and the Fire Brigade are in exactly the same predicament). Even if they get past that, there is the fact that most transport is defunct - the roads are washed away or choked with debris (and that "debris" can be entire apartment blocks), the storm surge has probably flooded their vehicles, which won't start (possibly ever again) and more than that, they are knackered, probably in shock and, frankly, are quite likely to be standing there with a machete in hand, guarding their home from looters.
Basically, don't expect anything to function, unaided, for at least the first week to ten days. Providing aid and security can knock days off that. It may not sound like much, but every hour is important
Ships are simply the most sensible and practical way of delivering first response aid (medical or humanitarian) - they can stay out of the storm zone and arrive within hours of the storm passing - the crew are rested, well trained and can focus on getting help where it is most needed. The most urgent medical cases can be brought aboard to the hospital facilities on the ship, while other teams set up a field hospital, or help with clearing roads and repairing local hospitals. Engineers can repair runways, restore power, get air traffic control running again, so that aid can be flown in. They carry (working) equipment that can be used to clear roads and rescue people and they can produce large quantities of fresh water (which you need in large quantities when the aircon is out and the humidity is 100%).
The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.