American Red Cross Hurricane Relief
Victims of Hurricane Katrina are attempting to recover from the massive
storm that hit the Gulf States. American Red Cross volunteers have been
deployed to the hardest-hit areas of Katrina's destruction, supplying
hundreds of thousands of victims ...
Amazon.com's 1-click donation page for American Red Cross Hurricane Relief
It's been particularly difficult to concentrate on work this last week with everything going on in the Southeast in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Things like this really show you how small your own individual problems and foibles are compared to the grand scheme of things. We may have built impressive cities, think we can do anything with our technology and our war machines, but we are disturbingly small in the grand scheme of things, only ten millenia after huddling in caves. It's fairly evident that we think we know what we're doing with the world and the environment, but nature can still come and kick us in the ass whenever it wants to. Maybe we should listen.
There was some debate earlier on whether or not the National Weather Service was being over the top with their forecast for Katrina, but looking at how thing turned out, it was pretty much on target. Especially the part about "Human suffering incredible by modern standards".
The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 didn't do nearly as much damage as the fire that happened afterwards that raged for three days. Likewise, it's starting to look like more of the damage and disaster that's happened in New Orleans is from the levee breaks that flooded 80% of the city, rather than the actual hurricane. The latter was not preventable, the former was. We as a people should demand an investigation into why the levee strengthening was passed over (and I mean a real investigation, not the usual whitewashing) and hold our leaders accountable for it. And that goes all the way up to the White House.
The looting, crime and lawlessness that's broken out in New Orelans is saddening, but not all that surprising. Whenever people become desparate enough due to lack of resources, threats to their way of life, or perceived abandonment or persecution, law and civility are rapidly thrown out the window and the Mad Max mode of urban warfare takes over. It's sad, but it's part of the human condition.
You can see it year-round in southside Chicago, south central L.A, Bagdhad, and now New Orleans.
Our government, and our society, need to do a better job to prevent this from getting worse, as well as preventing such chaos from breaking out in the first place.
If there are still people desparately trying to get out of New Orleans, whether they be stranded in the Superdome, their homes or dying in a hospital, our government and FEMA should expend every effort to get them out of New Orleans and abandon the entire city until it can be made safe. Sure, there's chaos, snipers and rising violence, but if we don't send in as much of the National Guard to rescue people right away, the suffering will only get worse. Holing people up in the Superdome or the City Convention Center with no food, water or sanitation is just making the situation worse.
What we need is a massive airlift, something not seen since the Blockade of Berlin in 1948-49. Hundreds of thousands of people need to be rescued, resettled, housed and given a place to rebuild their lives. The right-wingers will of couse decry this as a government handout for the homeless, but there are hundreds of thousands of people suddenly homeless through no fault of their own, and we as a nation must help. A disaster of this magnitude can happen anywhere, to any of us, and as Americans we have to pull together.
The true test of our government will be in the next few weeks and months, as they will show how they can handle such a massive rescue and aid mission. Gutting FEMA is likely making things worse, as they seem to have been generally unable to cope with the situation so far. While I'm no fan of the current administration, I hope for the sake of the people that need it that they don't screw this one up.