Thoughts on the Storm and its Aftermath . . .
This morning a good friend left a message on my answering machine. We’ve been playing telephone tag for a number of days and so I guess she decided to leave a lengthy message on the machine in “conversation.” I’ll probably leave one on hers as well, and eventually we’ll both know what’s going on in each other’s lives. She said the kids are good, she’s been very busy, and she’s horrified by what she’s seen on t.v. regarding Katrina. Then she said something that would normally really tick me off. (However, we’ve been friends since childhood and that allows for a little patience when either of us says something stupid . . . )
She said, “If one baby down there dies, I’m never voting Republican again.”
I’ve not had a chance to talk with her yet, person to person, but I can’t believe how anyone can cast blame at the Republican party for something that dwarfs any and all catastrophes that have struck our native soil in well over a century. Granted, she is a more liberal conservative (or maybe a more conservative liberal), and she did vote for Clinton (I’ve forgiven her, really, I have . . . ) But how can anyone blame the Republican Party and more specifically George W. Bush for how the relief effort is progressing?
I am still having a difficult time wrapping my brain around the magnitude of the damage . . . and I’m about to say something that may tick some people off, but bear with me while I try to explain what I mean. This is so much more horrific than 9/11 in a way . . .
As a specific event, 9/11 had a beginning and an end. The Towers fell and the cleanup began. Survivors grieved, but they were able to find shelter, food, water. They had places to go. For instance, HOME. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there were any apartments in the Towers. I may be wrong, but I don’t remember hearing about any apartments in the vicinity that were damaged beyond repair when the Towers fell. So while there was great loss of life, those who survived did have a place to go to and many received financial assistance from the government (the Republican government, I might add).
Hurricane Katrina may be “gone,” but the effects of her visit will go on for years. The levees (which were not built strongly enough to sustain this type of storm YEARS before President Bush came into office, and therefore cannot logically be blamed on him) must be “repaired” with something, anything, in order to drain the city and then rebuilt to withstand future assaults by WEATHER SYSTEMS. The city must be drained and then cleaned up and honestly, I don’t know if that is even possible. My sister is a nurse and she commented that the hospitals need to be bulldozed and rebuilt. She said that she just didn’t see how one could possibly bring a hospital contaminated by the toxic sludge now flowing through New Orleans back to the relatively sterile state it was before the storm. I think of all the homes that are soaking up the filth and wonder how they can ever be restored. It’s simply mind-boggling . . .
People are clamoring for help, and yet the people trying to help them are getting shot at. What’s that all about? Another blogger thought it was terrible that it was suggested that looters be shot. Yes, it is terrible . . . but if that looter is packing heat and threatening rescue workers trying to help those who really need help, I say “take ‘em down!” They are preventing the continuation of the rescue mission and in doing so, may be costing even more people their lives. So to some degree, they are to blame for the slowness of the process. And as harsh as it may sound, some of them don’t deserve saving. (Not very Christian, I know, but if reports can be believed, some of those who’ve taken refuge in our Astrodome have committed rape and other crimes even as we try to help them.)
As far as the current administration’s actions, while nothing will seem “fast enough,” I’m confident that they are taking proactive steps to handle the situation as well as can be expected, considering the great magnitude of the task ahead. What I would like to know is, where is the foreign aid? Where are the people that we’ve helped in times of trouble? There were Americans en route to London after the bombings (a much, much smaller catastrophe by comparison) even before the dust settled. We have sent so much money to aid in the tsunami relief effort (and yet were criticized for not sending “enough”) – where are our international brethren when we are in need? Hmmm? And if I have missed something, if in fact someone has sent us aid, please let me know so I can correct my thinking.
It’s going to take a long time to get this resolved, and criticizing the current efforts is counterproductive. It wastes energy. Instead of criticizing, find out how you can help. There are currently approximately 750 people staying in the hotels in my little community alone and the churches are coordinating efforts to provide meals to these people. A spaghetti dinner will be served tonight. Spaghetti goes a long way and is relatively cheap to prepare. I purchased eight cans of Kroger spaghetti sauce (79¢ each), two (3 lb.) packages of Kroger spaghetti ($1.99 each), and three loaves of garlic bread ($1.99 each) for a total of $16. It will make enough to feed 48 people one meal. Not necessarily a lavish meal, but a meal that will fill their tummies and give them energy for a few more hours.
If everyone will do this or something similar (and many are, I know), it will go a long way toward helping those taking refuge in our communities. If 15 people do what I did, it is enough to feed those 750 one meal. The Brazosport area has a population of approximately 30,000. Fifteen goes into that 2,000. So if every person donated $16 toward that, 750 people could be fed 2,000 meals. Quite amazing, huh?
Well, that’s all I have to say on the subject right now. I think the main thing is: Don’t point fingers, keep praying, and show compassion both for the victims of the hurricane and our administration. Can any of us honestly say that we could handle this situation better if we were in charge? It’s very easy to say “Why aren’t they doing this? Why did they do that?” The fact is, there are many, many militating factors slowing down the recovery process including the magnitude of the crisis and the fact that our president doesn’t have a national “checkbook” at his disposal requiring only his signature. I’m sure that if he could, he would sign off on unlimited aid, but that’s not possible. There are checks and balances and processes that must be adhered to, no matter what the crisis.