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Beyond politics

For the past 24 hours or so I’ve been posting about the government response to Hurricane Katrina, mainly because it has disappointed me so. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t also been thinking a lot about the basic humanitarian side of things.

The first time I really teared up was when I started reading the postings about Katrina on the New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi Craigslist sites on Tuesday. Seeing regular people offer their spare rooms, recreational vehicles, and other accommodations to refugees really touched me. Churches in the areas surrounding New Orleans are full to the brim with refugees, and people are feeding and clothing them as best they can with the resources that they have. See the comment from my mother on this post for a short first hand account of the refugees staying at my family’s church. Universities all over the country are making special accommodations for students from New Orleans. The Washington Post reports that a private construction company stepped in where the Army Corps of Engineers failed to mend the largest breech in the levees around the city.

With all the talk of looting, disorder, and government incompetence, the other story in disasters like this is the basic triumph of the human spirit. People everywhere are going above and beyond the call of duty to care for strangers, just like they do whenever disaster strikes, and it’s hard not to swell up a bit with pride when you think about it. My ideal is that the government would be more of an expression of the fundamental goodness that we are seeing, and I get disappointed when that ideal is not even approached.

3 Comments

  1. Rafe – I heard a caller to a local radio station here in Orlando ask why we can’t relocate people to our now unused military bases. I think this is the best idea I’ve heard yet to give people shelter, and I hope someone in a position of authority somewhere might have had the same thought. Given that I don’t know that this has happened, I am launching my own personal email campaign and sending the idea to anyone I can think of that might be able to make it happen…media people, reprentatives, this blog, anyone else I can think of. I would encourage anyone who thinks this might be a good idea to do the same.

  2. Helping the law students of the Gulf coast

    In the midst of what feels like a worsening of the situation along the Gulf coast this morning, I finally saw something that put a bona fide smile on my face: a listing of all the law schools that are…

  3. Jackie,

    I believe there are using old bases as shelter. I know that Alabama is planning on using former Fort McClellan Amry base and Middle Bay Port, a small former navy base, as a shelter and plan on using state and national parks that have fixed facilities to house refugees.

    Utah has opened Camp Williams to a 1,000 refugees.

    KellyUSA (formely Kelly Air Force base) in San Antonio was converted to a business park. They be taking several thousand refugees into buildings that I assume have not yet been converted into office buildings.

    I’ve also heard the idea of taking some cruise ships out of service and using them for additional housing has been “floated”, but I don’t know how practical that is if there are no area for them to dock along the LA/MS/AL.

    Contrary to popular belief, there are some smart people in charge that are working to get things done.

    http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA090205.1A.katrina_refugees.185f9ecd.html http://www.newutah.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=63456 http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/mld/ledgerenquirer/news/local/12536501.htm

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