Thoughts on the disaster
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.