September 2, 2005

Some thoughts for the curmudgeons who always pop up around now...

History has shown us that it's generally pointless to blame the victims of any disaster. Sure, you can gloat about your perfect hindsight. But it doesn't help the victims any, and it seldom prevents another disaster. It also tends to make you look like a bozo. Here's why:

You may think, "It's stupid to build a city below sea level." Granted. It's also stupid to build one where it's subject to Arctic temperatures all winter, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, drought, non-oceanic flooding, and, a special favorite here in the PNW, next to ACTIVE VOLCANOES. In short, it's fairly impossible to find the perfect place to build; the Earth is just like that. It's a wild and woolly place, and the people in New Orleans did o.k. there below sea level for a long time. Besides, being located above sea level is no guarantee against flooding; think back to 1996 and you may realize what I'm talking about.

You may think, "Everyone should have evacuated." Granted, sort of. Some people were supposed to stay for some basic services. Others were, for whatever reason, unable to leave (the parents of the NICU babies there come to mind; you'd have to be really, really crass to blame them for having a newborn during hurricane season, especially since some of them were surely preemies!) Still others didn't have the means--money, or relatives elsewhere--to evacuate. Many of those went to the shelters, and we've all seen what a rough time they've had. Still others did not leave their homes at all.

First, I'm sure we would have left. But we have the means to leave, and relatives who live here and there and everywhere. Not everyone is so fortunate. I think it's fairly obvious by now that plans for those who stayed were less than well-thought out, to say the least. Those folks are suffering who did as they were told to do. Second, I can think of two or three of my nearest and dearest who, in the same situation, would have stayed in the city (I come from some stubborn folks!) So before any of us get too high and mighty, we should keep in mind that it could just as easily be someone we love and care about in the same spot. Third, many--most?--of those who left will not have much, if anything, salvageable to return to, and they are in fairly sad straits now. Thousands and thousands of those who did exactly as they were told to do in the initial evacuation are now in trouble, and straining other communities with their needs. I can't think of anything you can blame those victims for except for having been in New Orleans at the wrong time (see above). You have to assume that at least SOME of those residents lived there for economic reasons, and I imagine lots more lived there for the same reasons people choose to live anywhere: it feels like home, their loved ones are near, they grew up there. Finally, anyone watching the news can see that this hurricane hit areas besides the Big Easy. All along Mississippi's Gulf Coast is a huge mess, and there are direct impacts all over the South.

To put it mildly, a lot of people need help. Looking for reasons to blame the victims is a pretty pointless exercise, and frankly, is pretty mean-spirited. One other thing to consider: think about how many other nations have offered us their help. I haven't seen any of them nitpicking; they are simply asking what we need and how they can assist. Seems to me that that's a great example to follow.

If you were going to donate or volunteer to help, but were feeling curmudgeonly, I hope my words may have swayed you a bit.

If not, may I suggest you Hug your Local Volcano? (It can't hurt, and might save your bacon down the line; I sure wouldn't count on help from others, if I were you....)

There are a plethora of places you can donate, easily located in the media, but here's the grand-daddy of them all, of course:
American Red Cross

To see what other folks are saying on this topic, visit:

And to see what some folks in New Orleans are up to, check out:
The Interdictor

1 comment:

Tami said...

I am sooooo furious with our current leadership I could spit. I try not to think about the abject stupidity and freakish apathetic inaction on the part of our administration that has allowed this ridiculousness to continue. Eh. I should probably put this in my blog. LMK if I offend...I will edit if needed.