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Monday, September 12, 2005

The Real Deal

She's not going to thank me for being used as an example, but some people cut through the nonsense rather fiercely. For those who don't know, Cyli was in New Orleans working in the recovery effort. She's a hero, for real. Visit her blog. She's not a very happy hero. Right now she is begging for Katrina contributions and blogging about what you should do in your area.

As for why she is begging for Katrina contributions, see this post written by her husband about her return:
At first she couldn’t look me in the eye. She walked towards me and stopped when she was no further then a foot away. With her hands shoved into her pockets again, I watched her chew her bottom lip. Her eyes filled with big, sorrowful tears. Her lip quivered no matter how hard she bit it. She shrugged her shoulders lamely and her voice sounded like a little girls as her eyes met mine. “We did the best we could.” She squeaked.

I don’t have to tell you that I pulled her to me. I don’t have to mention that the entire barn crew wandered off and left us alone. Dinner wasn’t cooked on the BBQ and they haven’t returned from town yet. I don’t have to tell you that those tears never rolled down my wife’s cheeks. They simply rolled around in her eyes, trapped like victims of this storm had been and still are. I don’t have to tell you that by the tone of her voice I know that in Cyl’s heart, her best wasn’t good enough.
See, the real heroes don't feel heroic. They feel horror, and grief, and pain. Because when you are really in there struggling in the thick of things, your best isn't good enough. All those people emitting self-satisfied rays of moral superiority on the tube aren't the real thing. Cyli is. Cyli can't rest until she's sure she's done her best to try to get help for people who need it desperately.

I don't know how some people can be so dead to other people's suffering that they can complain about giving money to people who are sitting in shelters with nothing. I don't know how some people can be so oblivious as to see this a political question. It is not. It is a question of devastated lives and burying the dead.

As Cyli writes in her latest post, saving lives in future disasters will depend mostly on local and state emergency planning. The best the outsiders (like Cyli) can do is not enough. So what is this bona-fide hero asking you to do aside from helping the Katrina victims? She is asking you to help yourself:
I can not stress this enough. Each and every person who has ANY feelings, thoughts or opinions about this disaster should have ALREADY accomplished ONE THING.

You should have called your local governmental offices and found out who and where your Emergency Disaster and Evacuation Planning officials are, and you SHOULD hold in your hand a copy of your local and state Emergency Evacuation and Disaster Plan.

There are NO if’s, and’s or but’s about this folks. If you can’t take the time and energy to learn your own local plan, and to examine it for problems, (like not bussing people out of your town or not having food an water in a shelter or what the precise definition of ‘refuge of last resort’ is…) then you do not have any right to complain when shit falls apart. You have power, you are “We the People”.

For heaven’s sake, please go out and learn your local and state agency plans. You’ll know precisely what NOT to count on if you do!
This is all about our responsibility to care for each other. Those people left in the nursing home to die? They were left because no one had a solid plan to evacuate them early on. The authorities have said they offered buses. (Nursing homes and hospitals are particularly vulnerable. The sickest patients need special arrangements.) Those people warded off from Gretna with guns as they tried to escape from a flooded New Orleans to which the Red Cross and Salvation Army had not been permitted access? That happened because no one had a plan for how to provide for them, so they treated them like a hazard. Well, a crowd of starving, dehydrated people is a hazard. I wouldn't blame them for breaking into homes to get water!

My God, how can we do this? How can we be reduced to this? These people were treated like criminals for trying to survive! People were held at gunpoint from crossing into safety (but a safety without food and water). This is a nightmare, but it happened.

If you don't have emergency plans ready for such occasions in your local area, all too many people will die for no reason. The feds literally can't do it. They can't.You saw a very good federal effort under the circumstances, but we all know it was not enough. The feds can only help (and I believe their efforts can be improved too), but they can't compensate for a lack of prior planning. Without planning and communications, everybody is left to fend for themselves and inevitably the weak and the vulnerable suffer. This is not acceptable. If you object to what happened in New Orleans, turn off the TV and turn your efforts first to your community and your state. The life you save may be your own, or perhaps the life of a dear one.

There is no way around the fact that the local people are going to be all there is for some period of time. We can debate and work on how long it is but there is no other way.

Everyone made fun of the disaster preparedness kit thing that was suggested a few years ago, but it is the prudent thing to do.
Boo hoo whine whine...we insensitive slobs have contributed a record $800 million and counting, thank you very much. We slobs have contributed God knows how many tons of new clothing. The Feds are pouring several billions of my money into the area, and you dare to belittle us?

Most of us live in relatively corruption free cities and counties and have disaster plans in place and have actually had practices so we don't need lectures from some sobbing wife and holier than thou husband.

New Orleans was a shit hole of whores, whore houses, pimps, gambling casinos, bars, and restaurants. They had no industry because anybody smart left New Orleans ten years ago.

I feel for Mississippi and Alabama and I don't hear any boo hooing from there.
Tommy, that is true. Duct tape, always duct tape! It's got to start on the personal level and move upwards.

Howard - the odds are high that most people don't have an adequate disaster plan locally. Tommy's right about the personal kit, but your local area and state needs to do something too.

Granted, NO combined a long history of bad government, a poor population and all the problems that any urban area faces, but anyone living in an urban area could see similar events if a real disaster plan is not in place. Consider one suitcase nuke or dirty bomb set off in the LA area and contemplate what might happen.

I've looked at several plans lately, and most of them have not had the necessary level of detail. GA's problems are becoming evident right now. If you don't do the planning beforehand you can't react quickly enough to cope with a disaster. I'm dead serious.

She's not saying that we are insensitive slobs, I am. And I have run into quite a few insensitive slobs who are bitching and moaning about even giving cash grants of a few hundred dollars to people who have been wiped out.

Take Boomr. He's a lawyer. His sister is a teacher. He, his sister and his parents all lost their homes, jobs, etc. You have four good productive educated people without even a car among them, much less a place to stay. It is extremely unlikely that the loss of their parents home will be covered by insurance. Whatever they have in savings is what they've got, probably. With no job, there goes your medical insurance....

I'm not bitching at you because you did give. You can't fool me into thinking that you are an insensitive slob. I am pretty disgusted with some of the comments I've seen from people who are acting like the only dead-broke homeless people are the ones who don't care anyway. They are fools.
Maxed out Mama, While I am a bit freaked out by being called a hero, which I do NOT feel I am; I am grateful for your heartfelt sentiments.

Howard, I did leave NOLA and go to both Mississippi and Alabama....Alabama was once home to me and my boys, they died there and so it is still home of sorts. The lack of communication and preparedness was JUST as bad there. If not worse because it's so desolate. In NO I could still see the city sky scrapers....in the distance. No matter where I looked in Mississippi I saw nothing but destruction. In Alabama it was both water and destruction.

I can't speak for what happened in Mississippi and Alabama, I only spent a day in each state. I can speak about NOLA and I can say that I saw the Government, on all levels not reach people in time....and I know it happened in ALL three states.

Could some lives have been spared if people were able to hang on for 72 - 96 hours? I will never know.

Never meant to disparage those who have given and continue to give in so many ways. If that is how you took anything I said my apologies to you. What I want is to know somehow that every American can hang in there long enough for me and people like me to get to them..... Because if the rescuer's can't get them while their alive, none of your efforts and money, or that of the people just like you will be needed.....it belittles us all
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