Disaster Non-Relief. Destroying the Spirit of America. When hope and possibility vanish.
… it is worth recalling that America, alone among nations, is an idea; and that idea dies when hope and possibility disappear. – Roger Cohen
No Heat Till Christmas? Fema says, “Call 911.”
We are all one storm away from Rockaway, Staten Island and the devastated shores of New Jersey. “My body has shut down,” declared one distraught homeowner, fending off despair in his freezing, water ridden home. He has no place to go and no money to get there.
The abject failure by the city/state governments of New York and New Jersey, the Red Cross and FEMA to provide ANY support whatsoever to hundreds of thousands of utterly desperate citizens for over a week – moving into two weeks as I update this post – is beyond words. Indeed, words fail. Pictures fail.
But the worst loss of all – the American belief that somehow, some way, local/city/state governments and the Red Cross will be there. Now we know the truth. This is hope we can no longer count on.
Obama sent in troops and fuel. But the National Guard, alone, could not provide the scope of assistance needed. And they weren’t even sent to the hardest-hit areas of bottomless suffering. (Free fuel depots manned by the National Guard were so overwhelmed that they closed them!)
We, the United States of America, failed. Pundits insist that the response to Sandy is much better than it was for Katrina.
BETTER FOR WHOM? Definitely not for those without shelter, electricity, heat, water, food and clothing. Not for those who have lost everything, including loved ones, but no agency (let alone the Red Cross) has yet appeared to offer help. Incompetence doesn’t explain it.
James O’Connell, the logistics coordinator for a 40-person search-and-rescue nonprofit group that was volunteering in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, called the Red Cross response to the storm “a figment of everyone’s imagination.” “I’ve come across one Red Cross canteen truck on Staten Island last night,” Mr. O’Connell said. “Two people inside. They said, ‘Hey, how you doing?’ And then they asked us for drinking water.” – Anger Grows at the Red Cross
Tell it to the elderly stuck on higher floors in housing projects without heat, food or water, because there is no one to carry them down. Tell it to the mothers who have neither shoes nor food for their children. Tell it to the parents who no longer have homes or jobs and can’t even get to an ATM. Or the homeowners dealing with four feet of mud, but there is no agency in sight to remove it. (“Take photos,” said one insurance company, “but don’t remove the mud and mold until we get there.”)
The only possible explanation: Middle income and lower income homes and families are not worth saving. The “powerful” will get around to it if/when they have the time and inclination. Until then, good folks, depend on yourselves or on the kindness of your neighbors. Don’t wait up.
The “good guys” must be snug in their homes or busy buying stuff for Christmas. Perhaps a Christmas iPad. (Or planning how to invest in pricey construction projects and condos that will move the middle class and poor out of these beach regions once and for all.)
Surely “they” could have provided quicker disaster relief assistance to the citizens of Rockaway, Staten Island and the New Jersey Shores…if they really wanted to.