Saturday, September 03, 2005

In Praise of the Individual Rescuers and the City of Houston

From my hotel in our nation's capital

In these days when our federal leadership pales in comparison with the Keystone Cops and W guitars while New Orleans drowns, it's beyond comforting to see someone...anyone...step up and make some sacrifice...some display of sincere concern and charity...without being forced to by polls or fear of political fallout. And so, I'm taking this opportunity to shower praise on the individual citizens of New Orleans who stayed behind to help their neighbors, even when they had the means to leave themselves, and the people and the Mayor of the great city of Houston, Texas. As The New York Times Editorial put it today:

Washington's inspiration must now be the individual rescuers in New Orleans, who have labored so bravely and selflessly, as well as the charitable deeds of local and state governments. Houston's offer of shelter at the Astrodome has put self-regarding national politicians to shame.

Congress and the president had better get the message: an extraordinary time is upon the nation. The annihilation in New Orleans is an irrefutable sign that the national tax-cut party is over. So is the idea that American voters cannot be required to accept sacrifice or inconvenience, no matter how great the crisis. This country is better than that.

The record-shattering money sent to the Red Cross in the wake of the crisis demonstrates Americans are better than that. Over 90 million dollars in the first three days (compared with 30 million for December's tsunami in the same time period). But more will be needed. Estimates now suggest $50 billion dollars will be needed to repair the damage. Hundreds of thousands of people need new homes. Via Tacitus, come these two places to learn more about how you can help in this effort:

The refugees from Louisiana and Mississippi cannot all fit in the Astrodome -- nor should they have to. If you have a spare room, please consider donating your space to a person or family in need. It's the right thing to do, and you'll be helping not just an individual, but your country. There are two web resources you should be aware of:

  • The Katrina Home Sharing Registry allows providers of living-space to register and match up with refugees.
  • The Homes Available Board is a bit more ad hoc, but serves its purpose equally well.
Like the people of the city of New Orleans, we can't wait for the Federal government to get its priorities straight or its act together (yes, I know, yesterday, the "calvary" arrived...but there are still thousands waiting to be rescued and I have little faith the Federal government's attention span will last as long as the need for help will...already, Fox News is spinning the crisis as something Bush has under control and suggesting all the anger should be directed at the looters). Americans will have to step up and and help the survivors long after the adminstration is back hard at work handing out pork and corporate welfare. We're the ones the victims of the disaster will need to be able to count on. It's gonna be a long hard slog for the people of New Orleans...we need to be there for them through the months to come.


Anonymous ML said...

I would like to urge everyone in this country to write their governors, senators and congressional members to DEMAND that plans be developed for future disasters. This is why Homeland Security was funded. That certainly was wasted money. If we don't scream and scream loudly about accountability and about prevention, then this will happen again.

While the President is the only one who can call out the troops, the governors, both Republican and Democratic, should have been demanding that as soon as they heard a category five was heading for the coast. The way to cure the ostrich mentality of current government is to demand better.

9/03/2005 07:19:00 PM  

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