We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Saturday, May 18. 2013
Three weekends ago, my wife's company ran a volunteer day. They have one every year, and we will sign up to clean beaches, parks, or do a variety of things which benefit the community. I feel if I use the beach or the park, I should help keep it clean.
This year we signed up to help clean a shore town in New Jersey that was afflicted by Sandy. We were assigned to clean streets and lend a hand to any homeowners who requested assistance in removing trash. Others in our group were assigned to paint the Ambulance Hall. We cleaned a 2 square block area, and our team 'captain' was a local man who not only gave us guidance on what we would be doing, but also filled us in on what transpired in the town.
He pointed out that May 1st would be the 6 month anniversary of Sandy, and requests for FEMA funds would have to be in by then. He said most residents had already applied, but the funds were limited. In addition the payment wasn't enough to help those with any substantial damage. His home had filled with water up to the ceiling of the first floor and his foundation had cracked, so he was renting the house next door in order to keep his kids in the school district. FEMA was a drop in the bucket for him. Charities were few and far between in this section of NJ. He was getting by on his pension and couldn't afford to get work done on his home.
He took some of us on a brief walk around town to point out the damage. The water level had reached 4-18 feet in this 1 square mile town. 7 of the 21 bars and restaurants were open. The police were still operating out of a trailer.
The only charity, aside from local charities, that was visible was Habitat for Humanity, fixing up one home. They had fixed about 55 homes in the area. Aside from this special weekend, where several large corporations banded together to supply food, paint, brooms, brushes, buckets and a host of other cleaning products, everybody in this town was still scraping by.
I could become political and make comparisons to Katrina and the promises made and not kept (though claims are made about how they have been). Or I could discuss the lack of news coverage Sandy is receiving compared to Katrina, 6 months later. In my estimation, Sandy has been much more devastating and I don't believe the 'official' estimates which say Katrina had more of a financial impact. There are towns in New Jersey, such as the one I worked, where people are walking away from their homes. These were middle and working-class families.
The money is going to areas where it can be visibly shown to 'have an impact'. Shore towns that have summer businesses that need to get up and running.
Other towns, which don't have the high-profile shore traffic, or are simply residential, are going unnoticed.
Even some communities in Connecticut, where a co-worker mine lives, are still having trouble getting back on their feet. He won't be able to move back into his house until August. It was under 10 feet of water for 3 weeks. He was lucky and found another place to live nearby, much like my clean-up captain. He pointed out many of his neighbors aren't as lucky and some are actually 'homeless'.
Perhaps I'm being overly cynical, but I guess tragedies are only tragedies if they impact a lower economic sector of our society, or wipe out a business. If you're middle or working class, nobody really cares as much. If I'm not cynical, and I don't think I am, it says quite a bit about how truly misguided our nation is today.
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It's only a real tragedy if it impacts minority women and cheeldren the most. Or minority males shortly thereafter.
Is Obama a complete Racist because he doesn't give a damn about the white folks who are suffering because of Sandy?
Just asking, don't you know?
That was the story about N'awleans, IIRC. Black folks could suffer, and Boooosh didn't care. He flew over, waved, and went home.
Kind of like Barry Sorento did with Sandy, actually....
The Americans who were affected by Sandy were largely sacrificed on the altar of Obama. The most national attention Sandy got was the Obamedia ubiquitous photo of Obama and Christy making love on the beach, like an old Rock Hudson-meets-Free Willy movie. Christy said everything was just peachy because Obama was delivering everything New Jersey needed! This actually affected the pre-election national tone. Here in the South the news was the utility unions refusing to allow crews from several non-union southern states to bring equipment and help in the recovery. Sandy was then sequestered from the news pre-election, and since our help was neither wanted nor needed, we went back to dealing with the 2010 Nashville flood, etc. Like the IRS political sabotage of conservative groups, the tightly Democrat-controlled news cycle preceding the 2012 Presidential election blocked Mr. Nice Guy Romney from getting media coverage. When Romney did get on camera, Obama's media turned his statements, which turned out to be accurate, into negative ads for Obama; he was slammed on Sandy, beaten down on Benghazi. The more light into the Obama regime, the clearer it is that the 2012 Presidential election, and the 2008, were the most corrupt and probably illegitimate in American history. This Government and the Alphabet Media have shown themselves to be corrupt and anti-American; both are too big not to fail.
What is really interesting is that Sandy wasn't all that destructive by comparison to other New England storms. The hurricane of 1938 and Hurricane Carol in 1954 were more destructive and about evenly balanced (accounting for inflation, blah, blah, blah) in terms of costs in property.
The difference of course is the building boom, people building homes where they shouldn't have built, towns allowing developers to develop where development was sketchy at best, etc.
However you point is taken - the high visibility areas are going to get the help first. And sadly, a lot of these communities like you assisted do not have local CERT teams that can organize neighborhoods and get things done. Sad as it is to say, most people really are dependent on government to "save the day" not realizing that they could have been able to help themselves with a little foresight and planning.
I know - sounds cruel and heartless but it is true nonetheless. Individual responsibility first, take care of your neighbors second.
It's interesting to speak with the people who are going to stick it out in the face of overwhelming obstacles. They are bitter about the lack of support, from both government and charities, but they aren't letting that stop them from trying to move forward with their life.
The politics is a sideshow to them, their life is more important than spending time criticizing politicians, and justifiably so. But when you see what's REALLY happening and think about some of the scandals we've seen reported in the last few weeks, you begin to get the picture that our government, and our media, are simply out of touch with what's really happening in the world, and they aren't interested in finding out.
The politicians and journalists are busy creating their own reality.
I believe it's incumbent upon us, as good neighbors and people to do exactly what you said in the final sentence - make sure we've handled our 'stuff' properly and when that's clearly taken care of, make sure others are getting what they require.
Like paranoia, it's only cynicism if there's no basis for your concern. And you have a valid concern. The government is undoubtedly under a directive to address only those issues that (a) restore businesses that generate taxes and (b) provide assistance to those who vote for the power brokers. But there are two fundamental reasons for this quandary. First, it's not a case of Obama doesn't (nor Bush didn't) care. As bad as Obama is, he's working through a bloated, inefficient bureaucracy that would be incapable of solving the problems of all of Sandy's victims even if it was a competent entity. The government cannot resolve all of our problems, nor should it. Empowering the government with such power leaves it in a position, as it now sits, to be an oppressive master, instead of our benevolent servant. Second, and more importantly, the scope of this disaster is indeed beyond the means of either public or private benevolence. But God Bless those like Bulldog and his Lady who give parts of their lives to help the afflicted where they can. The rest is up to time and, if we had an economy worthy of the name, the healing would already be underway, and the now-unemployed middle and working class people would have jobs to maintain their homes. They do not, and the political malfeasance that left them bereft of hope is criminal at its core.
It breaks my heart to read this. I wish circumstances would permit us to go there and help.
Our home along with dozens of others in a middle class neighborhood was flooded in May of 2010 in Nashville. The check we received from FEMA (we were not required to have flood insurance and suffered a 500 year flood) hardly began to cover our losses. And the IRS audited us, disallowing most of our casualty loss claims because we did not have records. Gee, they were ruined in the 2.5 feet of water that got into our home.
We simply wanted the government to get out of our way so we could begin the tear-out, demo, and reconstruction of our home. The local government couldn't decide whether to issue building permits for a couple of weeks, leaving us in limbo. Janet Napolitano came to our neighborhood and talked before media cameras. She did not pick up a crowbar and lend a hand to anyone, just mouthed empty promises.
We were fortunate to have lots of family and friends with the resources to be generous to us, plus our own savings and help from a contractor friend. Most of our neighbors were not so lucky. Some delayed retirement due to having to get 2nd mortgages. Others gave up and left. There were several foreclosures, and two houses are still not repaired. The toll on people financially and emotionally has been very hard.
The best help was from church groups, local teams of volunteers like you, and individuals who simply showed up and got to work.
Some in Nashville have put all the blame on homeowners who moved into homes that ended up being flooded. I ask them, where would you propose to relocate over 3000 households?
There is no real solution, because whatever is done to divert or control water causes a problem somewhere else for someone else. The Corps of Engineers released water, causing our area to be flooded in order to "save" the tourist area of downtown. Sadly, that's just how it is.
The best help was from church groups, local teams of volunteers like you, and individuals who simply showed up and got to work.
I was doing a CERT communications briefing for new and prospective CERT teams and several of the presenters were from faith based groups - Southern Baptists, Salvation Army as you would expect, but there were Lutheran and Presbyterian groups. I was very impressed with the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief group - that's an operation that rivals the American Red Cross and in a lot of ways, better organized, better equipped and quick response time - all with volunteers.
Why should the government reimburse anyone for personal or business losses? The government should provide search and rescue and emergency medical service but not become an insurer or sugar daddy. They only do this for political reasons, i.e. to put massive amounts of money into a congressman's district/state. Most of the money is wasted or misappropriated (where did the billions go after Katrina?). This is simply not the governments job and is unfair to taxpayers.
But it's happened for so long, people EXPECT the government to provide support at the expense of others who weren't affected by a particular disaster.
I'm all for helping, but voluntarily, not through coercive action.
I know, in the days after Sandy, when we were without electricity, that others were worse off. As a result, we bought plenty of goods and clothes, and donated boxes of other things we no longer needed but others could use, at a local drop shop. The person who ran it happened to have just returned from the shore and told me what was happening there. No government (already 5-6 days after the storm), but lots of charity groups.
Charitable organizations are the most effective.