Saturday, September 03, 2005

Serious Questions About Disaster Response... and Some Praise

This CNN story raises frightening questions.

National Guard troops ready and waiting for authorization to move...I heard a policeman from Michigan discussing how they were denied access to the area because "...we have no place to house you" and this was the reason given even after he assured them they brought their own tents and supplies. Refusing help of Cuban medics because they are Cuban? A disaster relief team from Canada denied entry to the US?

The footage we are seeing is distressing. And this may be even more distressing! The stories of miscommunications, misguided refusals of aid, and incompetence seem to be mounting.

I don't think that "magnificent" or "embarrasment" is adequate. In some cases one, in some the other. But when the National Guard is ready...and receives no order to move...If nothing else comes from this, it is clear we'd better take a very good look at just what went wrong. Homeland security? Insecurity, more like it.

Now for praise...General Honore is looking like a wonderful example of leadership to me...walking in the city with his troops, telling them clearly to "lower their weapons" and remember they are there to help, personally stopping to take twin babies from the arms of an exhausted mother and get all of them to safety. It's one family among many, but it was a simple act of kindness that sent a message. And if everyone could stop and be HUMAN in this way, how much further ahead we would be!

Churches in Texas are opening their doors and hearts to hurricane victims, and in many cases people are opening their homes as well. God bless them!

Rapper Kanye West on NBCs concert...well, I know he is upset, but his comments were so inappropriate. And TWO different news sources, one using the word "looters" and the other not...does not racism make. But Tim McGraw with his heart-felt rendition of the wonderful "More Power to Ya" was inspiring and moved me to tears.

And praise goes to the nameless New Orleans police officerss I just saw on television...the distraught African American policeman who had words of scorn for the "cowardly" police who simply laid down their badges and left -- he has been working to the point of exhaustion...and being constantly shot at. The weeping white policewoman who is clearly at the breaking point, but who said, "We must come back and have hope and faith, and we must continue to have compassion on people....who had none for us." God bless that dear woman. If New Orleans had more like that....their police force would have a very different reputation than what they have had over the years.


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