In Iraq for 365

About my experiences in Iraq... the frustrations, the missions and this country... and the journey home

Friday, September 02, 2005

Thoughts on the disaster

UDPATED:

AS POINTED OUT BY MANY READERS AND WELL COVERED BY THE MEDIA, THERE HAVE IN FACT BEEN MANY COUNTRIES CHIP IN TO HELP THE VICTIMS OF THE HURRICANE. I'D LIKE TO APOLOGIZE FOR MY ERROR IN OPINION. I GUESS, I NEED TO WORK ON MY FAITH IN OTHER COUNTRIES. BELOW IS A LIST OF COUNTRIES (CREATED BY WWW.BLACKFIVE.NET).

Australia - eight million dollars.
France - emergency supplies, including tents, blankets, cooking equipment and camp-beds.
Britain - 500,000 military (meals) rations.
Germany - 25 tons of food.
Italy - 15,000 First Aid Kits, along with infant food, blankets, pumps, water-purifying devices and inflatable rafts.
Kuwait - 500 million dollars in oil products.
Qatar - 100 million dollars.
Canada - thousands of camp-beds, blankets and medical supplies. A Canadian Coast Guard ship is bringing 1,000 troops.
Afghanistan (that's right, Afghanistan) - 100,000 dollars.
Indonesia (one of the countries hit by the Tsunami) - 40 medical doctors.
Korea - 30 million dollars.
Norway - 1.6 million dollars.
Sri Lanka (one of the countries hit by the Tsunami) - 25,000 dollars.
China - five million dollars.
Cuba - doctors, 25 tons of medicine and emergency supplies.
Netherlands (Holland) - Inspectors/Engineers to inspect the levies (go figure).
Israel - sending doctors and military support.
Venezuela - doctors, oil products (at cost), and emergency supplies.
Japan - an emergency rescue team.
India - five million dollars, essential medicines and water purification systems.
The Philippines - a 25-member team of aid workers (doctors, nurses, sanitary engineers).
Mexico - 15 tons of water, food and medicine.
Iran has offered to send aid.
The UN is offering their coordination of the international relief. (no, I didn't get that from Scrappleface).

It’s been said a million times already, but it’s true: tragedy brings out the best in people, and in New Orleans, for some people, the worst.

After I saw the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I thought for sure America would join hands and bail out New Orleans and Mississippi just as we have done in Florida after hurricanes, Oklahoma after the bombing and New York after 9/11. And for the most part, this is true. Thus far, Americans have donated $24 million to Red Cross and the Salvation Army. But the most-covered events have been the lootings and shootings.

First off, I can understand taking water and food from grocery stores. But why DVD players and T.V.s? Even if a looter gets away with stealing a television where do they plan on plugging it in? There’s no power in the city! In addition, hundreds of guns have been stolen. And every state in the Union has sent National Guard units to Louisiana for security, not disaster relief purposes. A helicopter was shot at while attempting to load refuges and a police officer and National Guard soldier have been shot. I just don’t get it… why would these people attack the very Americans trying to save them?

Not for one second, however, do I lump all New Orleans residents in with these criminals. My heart goes out to the citizens who lost loved ones and homes. Three months from now, I’m sure we’ll be mesmerized by the fatality numbers and damage. The numbers will more than likely double 9/11. To friends and family of the lost and dead, words will never be able to fill the void. But take solace in knowing that your government and fellow man are doing everything to restore your lands.

Now, we look at rebuilding the broken. I’m no engineer, but anybody with half a brain can look at the damaged infrastructure and know that this will be harder than even rebuilding Iraq. However, I have no doubt that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the countless government and private engineers will do everything in their power to fix Mississippi and Louisiana. The question becomes, though, should we pump all this money into the areas when it can just happen again. I’m of the opinion that New Orleans is too valuable of a city to not repair to what it once was. From economic standpoint, we need the ports in the city to maintain our international marketplace in grain and oil exports. Everybody knows of the oil situation, but not many people understand the wheat, soybean and corn problem. Nearly one quarter of all grains are shipped through New Orleans and now these ports and grain elevators are ruined. If we do not quickly repair these shipping areas, we will not only suffer high gas prices, but the food prices will skyrocket. Another commodity that has been impacted is sugar. Louisiana was the country’s top sugar beet producer. If you put sugar in your tea or coffee, it probably came from Louisiana. Now that this American sugar is no longer available, we will have to import almost all of it from Asian countries, who produce it from sugar canes, which is much more expensive than beets. My rebuilding suggestion is we repair the damaged infrastructure that has the most economic implications on our country first than we concentrate on the homes and businesses. Yes, this may seem to be a crude statement, but we can house the displaced persons in other cities. We cannot ship a million tons of grain from another port that is already shipping a million tons. The facilities are not in place to pick up the slack from the New Orleans ports.

Then, there’s the security situation. For whatever reason, many Louisiana residents have taken arms against their own people. There is no reason for this; they are just causing more problems and slowing down the rebuilding process. But this is just a minor security problem. My biggest fear is that we are vulnerable for a major terrorist attack. With most of our security and rescue personnel focused on New Orleans, I have no doubt that terrorist cells are planning an attack. I do not mean to scare people, but every war fighter knows that the best time to attack is when your enemy is down and or distracted. So what can you do as a citizen? Well, my suggestion is to keep your eyes peeled for unattended bags in crowded areas. If you see one, report it to security immediately. If you’re in a downtown area, watch out for parked cars close to buildings. Statistically car bombers use rundown vehicles, so keep that in mind… even a terrorist doesn’t want to blow up a brand-new Mercedes. My guess is they will not attack a Los Angeles or New York, but a medium sized city that is probably not as prepared like a Louisville or Tulsa. This goes without saying, but stay alert; it just might save your life. Again, I do not mean to strike fear in you, but we have to be realistic here, it is a very possible scenario.

My hat is off to the media. While they have received tons and tons of criticism for their Iraq coverage, they have been extraordinary in covering this tragedy. They are telling both sides of the story and risking their lives in doing so. They are filming looters and rescue attempts in a tasteful manner. While everybody knows that there are bodies floating in the flooded waters, I have not seen a bit of footage of the dead. That is a media director decision, and I applaud their professionalism… they have not formed their own opinions and let the videos, photographs and interviews tell the story. Yesterday, I heard a general say that they cannot get to certain areas. My first thought was how are the media able to get everywhere, but not our military.

If you have not donated money or time, please do so. We are Americans. We take care of our own. And we will get through this tragedy.

113 Comments:

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The world lines up to offer aid to Hurricane Katrina victims
Last Updated Fri, 02 Sep 2005 13:17:50 EDT
CBC News


More than three dozen countries, besides Canada have pledged assistance to the United States in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Cuba and Venezuela have offered to help despite political differences. The list also includes Saudi Arabia, Dominica, Russia, France, Japan, China, El Salvador, Israel, Paraguay, the U.K., the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, Honduras, Germany, Venezuela, Jamaica, Australia, Switzerland, Greece, Hungary, Columbia, The Dominican Republic, Mexico, South Korea, New Zealand, Guatemala, Belgium, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Italy, Guyana, Indonesia, Austria, Lithuania, Spain, Norway and the Bahamas.

For example, Australia announced a donation of $8 million to the American Red Cross. Japan said it would contribute $200,000 to the American Red Cross and upon request $300,000 in tents, blankets, power generators, portable water tanks and other equipment.

 
At 3:38 PM, Blogger Sminklemeyer said...

thanks for those statistics. i'll eat some crow.

 
At 4:41 PM, Blogger Sue said...

I agree - the media has been doing a pretty decent job considering the magnitude of the situation.

It is definitely difficult to watch and it feels agonizingly slow but the sad fact is logistics take time.

By the way, the US will not be going it alone. It's your country's time to accept the generousity of others and I'm glad they are accepting it. One Canadian team is already there:
http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/usar/

 
At 8:40 PM, Anonymous kbug said...

Casanova, my little sister and I were just talking about this yesterday... what the heck are those looters going to do with fur coats in the summer, and TVs and DVD players with no electricity? And shooting at rescuers... that's total insanity. I'm disgusted with what I've seen. There's no excuse for that kind of thing, but like you said, tragedy brings out the best in some and the worst in others. I've been watching this closely, as I spent some of my school-age years in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans, part of which is now flooded. The hurricane we experienced while we were there was nothing compared to this one, though. We were back in school 2 weeks later, but I'm not sure their schools will reopen at all this year. One thing's for sure, though, New Orleans has been dodging this bullet for over 100 years...those levees were never meant to withstand anything more than a category 3 hurricane. My heart and prayers go out to those who are trapped in the chaos and have lost so much...

 
At 10:21 PM, Anonymous MKL said...

Saw a guy on TV defending the looting of electronics, jewelry etc. Said it was so those people could use it "to barter for food". Sigh....

 
At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LEFTIST BIAS

 
At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not saying that the looting was right, but we might get a better understanding if we look at the poverty levels of the places that were hardest stricken. Mississippi is the poorest state in the country, and New Orleans (Lousiana in general) has a high poverty rate as well. Those people have nothing and we all are aware of the cultural attitude that runs rampant in poorer areas. Everyday is a fight for survival hence high crime in those areas during the best of times. Again, I'm not saying that its right or even that I agree with it, but what I am saying is that I can understand it and that I dont see why people are so surprised by it. Also keep in mind that looting is not unique to this disaster. I can recall seeing footage from Florida where people has spraypainted the phrase "Looters will be shot" on the outside of buildings. Anyone remember the movie "Lord of the Flies"? I think that we are seeing a similar scenario playout there. Sure t.v.'s etc are neccessary to survival, but we all still a very primal opportunisitic kind of survival side to us.

 
At 6:16 PM, Blogger Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

As noted. There were fifty and now it is over sixty countries that had offered aid to the US and as of this mornings edition of the Washington Post the State Department had not accepted offers as they were still "accessing the needs" by afternoon they had accepted some offers.
What were they thinking comes to mind. I agree with the looking at the poverty levels of those affected and also looking at the fact that even in the news media white people carrying food through water were called survivors and black people were called looters. We have to tread carefully here. We , at least I , have no idea what it is like to be in that situation, we have no idea the fear, or the stress which comes with all this and with no immediate ( or for days for that matter) arrival of aid.

 
At 2:00 PM, Blogger DEANBERRY said...

ONLY A COMMUNIST WOULD REMOVE THIS POST.

FIND OUT THE TRUTH ABOUT AMERICA'S SOLDIERS. MANY ARE PRACTICING SATANISTS, WICCANS, PAGANS, AND ATHEISTS. THEY RESEMBLE THE ARMY OF SATAN FAR MORE THAN THE ARMY OF GOD. THE TRUTH HURTS. http://antichristiantroops.blogspot.com.

IN JESUS' GLORIOUS AND HOLY NAME,
DEAN BERRY -- REAL AMERICAN

 
At 5:37 PM, Blogger Alexis said...

I agree with your praise for the media during the Katrina coverage. I have been impressed with the way they have handled it. I believe that poverty level does not dictate human reaction to emergency situations. Sometimes, Poverty stricken homes truly believe and honor life, a code of honor, and human treatment. Its not fair to say its poverty level that caused them to loot.

deanberry - your site is full of contradiction and absolute craziness. I am posting this here because I wish to give you no publicity on your site.

 
At 5:38 AM, Blogger Word Grrl said...

I've been thinking about how I would have survived if I were in the water-soaked shoes of those hurricane survivors.

Although it seems ridiculous to shoot at rescuers, we should keep in mind that people were desparate to get their families out of that hell that is New Orleans.

I saw a clip yesterday from Sunday's Meet the Press of a county official in tears, talking about how one official's mother had been trapped in her house, and each day her son would call and say "They're coming to rescue you, Momma," and each day would pass without her rescue. She drowned in her house on Friday.

I'm not condoning the shootings, but if it were my family trapped in our house with no food and water and imminent threat of drowning in the filthy water, I certainly would have left all options open to save them.

Those poor, poor people, my heart just aches for the faces I see on TV.

Oh, and dean berry is a moron.

 
At 7:32 AM, Anonymous Sammy said...

Fred,

I put my name in the hat last week when there was an initial call for volunteer Guard soldiers here in Wisconsin to go down south and help with security and cleanup.

Unfortunately, I'm on blood thinner for another month or so and the doc said it probably wouldn't be a good idea at this time.

Wisconsin mobilized over 400 soldiers the next day, anyway.

But I tried.

The thing about New Orleans is the frailty of the levee that broke has been known about for quite some time.

Unfortunately, it took something like this to confirm what many experts had already known about that levee for years.


SSG J

 
At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Sammy said...

By the way, Sammy Jr. called the other night. He had just completed his first mission into Iraq.

He said it was kind've boring. I told him I don't care how boring it seems--don't get complacent. Keep your eyes open and stay alert. It's just when you get complacent that the defacation hits the oscillation.

I told him he needs to have his M4 glued to his body. It seems the other day he got called out of the tent in a hurry for something or other and left his weapon behind.

Needless to say, he got smoked.

But he's doing well and sounds good. The Chicago Bear flag I had with me in Mosul last year is with him now as is the UW flag and the football he had given me prior to our deployment.

The UW flag is displayed but he doesn't want to put the Bear flag up because of what all the Packer fans might do to it.



SSG J

 
At 9:01 AM, Anonymous kbug said...

Thanks for the update on your son, Sammy. It's good to know he's doing okay. Tell him he is being thought about and prayed for every day...

 
At 2:23 PM, Blogger Chris said...

And a lot of care will be needed.

Nice post.

 
At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

CBS adds a few (some quite unexpected) to the list:

Here

 
At 6:47 PM, Blogger strykeraunt said...

It has been a couple of days since I cruised the internet for any type of information and have relied heavily on television and radio reports on this disaster. I too was unaware that other countries have come foreward with offers of help. I too feel better now knowing that other countries have not turned their backs on us. The Afghanistan offer may seem small but it really warmed my heart because I know that they live everyday with so much less.

Sammy, thanks from me also for giving us an update on Sammy Jr.

 
At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you can check this out, I heard a rumor that gangs and organized crime were planning ahead of time to loot and "take turf" even before the Katrina hit. Thought you might have contacts to check it out.

 
At 4:05 PM, Blogger Lizabeth said...

Someone should tell "deanberry" that he left the capslock on, didn't we get over that in 7th grade. Nothing of substance in his blog anyway.

Thanks for the list, I've been wondering my self where the foreign aid has been, you have opened my eyes.

 
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Semper Fi!

Bill Adams

 
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