Sunday, September 04, 2005

Pitch In and Help!

Here is an email from a friend in Houston:

Sunday Sept 4

One thing that doesn't get on the media is how NICE people have been during this thisaster: there are lots of family reunions going on at the Dome and other places. My attorney friend tells me that as soon as folks arrive that they are fingerprinted, matched on a data base, and the criminals with outstanding warrants are hauled off to jail. The child molesters are registered (so their location can be tracked) and separated from the others.

Most of the effort has been toward getting folks clean, comfortable, checked out for ailments, and fed. There is a huge effort to match families to each other. Aid is pouring in.

There are some drug addicts among the folks coming in too, but they are the minority. The majority are families --- many of whom were separated by the storm --- being reunited, one at a time. It's a heart-wrenching thing to watch : people who thought they had lost mothers, fathers, sons, daughters....finding each other.

I can't think of too many places on the globe where over 1 million people across three states are displaced --- all homeless, many sick -- and find safety, comfort, and help in a matter of days. Considering the level of infrastructure difficulty -- roads down, no communications or electricity, the flooding continuing.....I think we did well, not badly.

Nobody can wave a wand and give them these people their former lives back in a week, and nobody could have magically teleported them out of the situation as it was unfolding last Monday and Tuesday.

But the bottom line is, we're all doing the best we can here. People that are critical of government entities right now are doing a disservice: they can roll up their sleeves and help, as we in Houston have, rather than engage in "should haves" and "maybes". The disaster isn't over. It happened less than a week ago. And there's plenty left to do.

Here in Texas, literally everyone I know is pitching in. They're taking people into their homes, giving of their time, helping with donations of money, goods, clothing. Some businesses are offering jobs and housing. Life isn't "normal" in an evacuation center. So there's plenty of work to do with relocation, housing, jobs, getting things up and running again.

From the front lines, what's happening in the media doesn't make any sense....the recriminations, whose "fault" it was. A storm like this isn't anyone's "fault" -- it's just a disaster that starts as a wisp of wind somewhere, and turns into a ferocious storm. They've happened for thousands of years, and everyone on the Gulf Coast knows the score, whether they acknowledge it or not.

Besides, we still need help now, not recriminations and fault-finding. The disaster isn't over. Not until the last man, woman, and child is settled into a semblance of normal lives can it be called "over".

Then it would be appropriate to discuss how we can meet the next disaster better --- not indulge in the ugly politicals of fault-finding, as many in the media and politics are quick to do.

Sitting in the middle of all this in Houston, with our overwhelmed social services --- and an overwhelming outpouring of volunteers and help from our citizens here in Texas -- all I have to ask critical people is: What are you doing to help?

So, what are you doing to help? Donate Now!
Salvation Army
Mercy Corps
American Red Cross

Or, go here and pick a charity of your choice.

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