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Retroactive Deja vue

Published:

Last Edited: September 2, 2005, 1:11 pm

 

A decade ago emergency management workers used to marvel. 

A tidal wave, an earthquake, mudslides, floods hit in South America, China, Armenia, casualties would be in the thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands.  But a similar event in the US would leave a few dozen people dead with just a lot of property damage.

Emergency management workers knew this wasn't their doing.  Mitigation workers knew it wasn't their doing.  A few believed it was just a confirmation that God was on the side of America.  Most believed it was pure, dumb luck.

Everyone knew the potential was there, the vulnerabilities.  In fact, one of the reasons no effective mitigation efforts found support lay in the fact that these things simply don't happen to the United States.  They happen elsewhere, to foreigners, to strangers. 

We watched the tragedies, helped as we could, we Americans, but we came to believe a catastrophy for America was an airline crash where a hundred or so people died.  A hurricane where people lost their homes. 

It's clear our luck ran out on this one. 

I saw a newspaper this morning and read with shock about the chaos and the inability of the emergency response and recovery infrastructure to deal with an event of this magnitude.  I shouldn't have been shocked, because it's obvious, in retrospect.

Maybe things would have been different if we'd not stretched our resources so thin.... if we'd continued to use our regular Army to fight our wars and left the National Guard and Army Reserves inside the US boundaries, but there's no assurance of  this. 

There's a certainty that a lot less human death and suffering and property damage from looting would have resulted if there'd been a determined evacuation before the storm came in.  There'll definitely be a lot of questions asked about why that didn't happen.

But the reason it didn't happen is right there in the beginning of this jotting.  Things of this magnitude don't happen here.  Those victim-faces filled with anguish could have made the choice to leave.  They didn't do so because they believed as we all tend to, that US soil is somehow sanctified against such stupendous tragedy.

The costs will by high in their personal lives because of this tragedy.  Their choice to stay will also be enormously high for the rest of us, as well. 

If those traumatized victims had merely used good judgement, taken measures to behave the way any prudent person would behave when a CAT 5 storm's coming in from the Gulf of Mexico, the only thing those FEMA, National Guard, Police, Firemen and rescue workers would be dealing with would be a few stragglers who simply found it impossible to leave, and the hospitals who couldn't.

Hopefully all over the US people with spare bedrooms will give over a piece of themselves in the form of shelter, make the sacrifice to trust those people who made a lousy choice we might well have made ourselves.

Somehow those people have to be relocated to the spare bedrooms of America for a while.

Are we up to the task?

I'm not.

Jack

 

 

Entry #238

Comments

1.
Comment by Rip Snorter - September 2, 2005, 2:03 pm
Those of us who know a lot about what other people should be doing to help during the aftermath of this event can profit by some self examination here. The self-righteous chest pounders full of advice and compassion need to ask themselves a couple of questions:

Is there one thing that I can do, me, to ease the suffering and help get this country back on the road to recovery.... not giving a dollar here, a diaper there, but some real sacrifice, effort to get those people into homes as they emerge from the cauldron, get them food, shelter, a bath, and some means of earning a living?

That won't be easy and it won't be fun.

When I ask myself that question the answer is clear. At the moment I honestly don't see anything meaningful I can do, other than throw a few dollars into the mix. It's my own selfishness, my concern for my own well-being that will assure that I'll not be opening my doors to have a hurricane victim living here until things get better.

That's definitely a choice I can live with, though I sincerely hope everyone else in America who has a spare room will decide differently. There's no excuse for any spare room in America being vacant until all those victims have a place to sleep, bathe, eat.

But not here.

Jack
2.
waynrComment by waynr - September 2, 2005, 3:15 pm
"But not here."

But what if they're packing Jack? I'm not talking about stolen jellybeans either. How about then? Pulling up in your drive with lotsa loot and a nice 05 caddy. Good place you got for a hideout there I bet. Go ahead and stock up the fridge fer'em so they don't start licking their lips and giving your cat funny looks.
3.
Comment by Rip Snorter - September 2, 2005, 3:18 pm
Not a problem. I pack.
Jack
4.
Comment by Rip Snorter - September 2, 2005, 3:25 pm
Waynr:

I've been wrong about this hurricane enough times to be wrong again. Which is to say, I don't believe there's going to be a herd of refugees with guns pulling up into anyone's driveway.

If I'm as wrong about that as I've been about the ability of the US government to deal quickly and effectively with this storm, all bets are off.

But your question must be a rhetorical one. You must be thinking of someone besides me, asking that question. For me it isn't a problem.

If someone else has that difficulty they'll have to deal with it any way they're prepared to.
This country has enough problems already here at the moment to relax the need for dreaming up problems that haven't happened and probably won't.

Jack
5.
waynrComment by waynr - September 2, 2005, 8:42 pm
"Not a problem. I pack."

Jellybeans? A bowl? A bowl first and then the jellybeans. Nah rip. Only trying to cheer myself up a little. Don't take anything I say seriously or I might poke fun mercilessly (trying to cheer myself up). I probably ought to buy a few thousand extra rounds myself.
6.
Comment by Rip Snorter - September 2, 2005, 8:57 pm
waynr:

Do whatever it takes to cheer yourself up wayne. Cheer's a commodity in short supply over most of the country at the moment. Any 'merciless' fun poking you care to do won't draw any blood. I don't have any thousands of rounds of anything around here, myself, because I don't figure on needing it. I live in a village that's prepared to go to war with itself, where any home is an arsenal. They're prepared to kill one another, but they aren't about to put up with any outsider doing it.

You just go right ahead and poke all the fun you like. If I begin to find it a nuisance I'll reward you with a 'Block', so we won't feel obliged to continue with it. Great new feature Todd added to the Forums and blogs, that 'Block' feature.

Jack
7.
waynrComment by waynr - September 2, 2005, 11:40 pm
I apologize for being insensitive Jack. I don't know what has gotten into me lately. I've had this so called "habit " for 26 years and decided to give it up because those I love are scared to death of the long arm of the law. So I feel pretty damn bad to say the lest going through withdrawal. So I really do need some cheer, but not at anyone elses expense. Thanks for bringing me back to reality.
8.
Comment by Rip Snorter - September 2, 2005, 11:50 pm
Hey man. You just keep talking, say anything you'd wish. Here's me, things I say worth just about the amount of ink it takes to put it on this electronmagic screen, telling you you've won my enthusiastic support. You couldn't get me to block you without wanting me to.

Hang in there, amigo. Sheeze. Hang in there and good luck.

Jack
9.
waynrComment by waynr - September 4, 2005, 11:54 am
After this comment I'll just read friend. Didn't want to leave you hanging. You're a lot better at articulating my own lines of thought in a hostile environment than myself. So much teeth knashing only pricks my soul and makes me sick on my stomach. A nice quiet dark corner is my place till I start feeling better. BTW if you pull up in my drive you're welcome here. Anytime.
10.
Comment by Rip Snorter - September 4, 2005, 1:09 pm
Thanks waynr:
The internet, DBs and blogs would be a wonderful tool for civil discussions of meaningful issues and varied viewpoints, if that's what people wanted.

It isn't.

Mostly they merely want to see their fanticies, biases repeated back to them and their egos fed with their self-righteous, self-aggrandizing opinions and pronouncements.

I'm glad for you waynr. I appreciate your comments here and wish you the best. It's going to get better, amigo, for you personally.

Good luck to you, once again. If all you do is read, not a problem. I've always been bad about breaking a leg off a chair, backing into a corner and taking what comes.

Jack

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