For several weeks after 9/11 I don’t think anyone who wrote a column could find anything humorous to expound upon. The same feeling is going around since the hurricane along the Gulf Coast. I’m fairly certain most of you are like me in that you are numbed by constant pictures of thousands of people losing their homes, businesses and even the lives of their family and pets. This is a tragedy of epic proportions.
After seeing hours and hours of desperate flood victims trying to escape, you can almost sum up the entire episode into a few words: Horror, hurt, help and hope.
I’m confident in my mind there will be an immense amount of finger pointing as to who is to blame for what happened during the coming months. I have no doubt that we will all be tired of the partisan politicking before we hear the end of it. But I suggest to you that you think about this, will anything be done to assure us that this kind of reaction won’t be repeated in the future’
Did the Mayor of New Orleans fail to act promptly’Probably. Did the Governor of Louisiana fail to act as fast as she could have’Certainly. Did the United States Government address the potential need for their help in a timely manner’No.
I make no bones about being a Republican, since I have been in business for myself all of my life. However, I will not agree that the head of some agency as important as FEMA should be a political appointee. Someone, who is on the ‘A’list and is one of the ‘good old boys’is somehow entitled to this very crucial job. This is a position that needs to be filled with someone with experience and training in how to prepare and react in the event of some national disaster. Not some ‘friend of the party’. No matter what party is in power.
We know hurricanes happen. We should know how to react in the event one such as this occurs. This is a situation in which we know something will happen; we just don’t know when it will happen.
Now, if we were unprepared to evacuate and care for these residents along the Gulf Coast for an event we know happens with annual regularity, how would we handle a nuclear attack or threat by some terrorist in one of our larger cities’Not very well, I would imagine. Are we not prepared to help feed, clothe, shelter and medically treat 500,000 to 1,000,000 of our citizens if the need to do so arose’
At this point in time, I would have to say, certainly not. At least it doesn’t appear that way to me.
Years ago, while I was in the Army, we woke up one morning in Fort Riley, Kansas and were told to take our tanks down to the railhead. When we got there, there was a line of flatcars as long as you could see in any direction waiting to take our tanks, trucks and other pieces of equipment by rail to the East Coast. Railroad men were there with big pieces of wood and chains to block and secure my tank. We were then loaded onto airplanes and shipped off to Virginia and later sent to the Atlantic to blockade and possibly invade Cuba. Where had all of these flatcars come from’Someone had to plan ahead to arrange for them to be there in the event of some threat to our country. Someone had figured out in advance what would be needed in the event we were to go to war.
Why weren’t we doing the same in this situation’I find it hard to believe that a nation with our brainpower and resources wouldn’t have the ability to stockpile, food, water, medical supplies and shelters for a catastrophe such as this. Armchair generals such as myself find it easy to play Monday morning quarterback, but I don’t think you have to be a rocket scientist to see that people in a situation like this are going to need a bathroom, water and food. That’s just common sense.
A lot has been said about the drills and planning sessions which were conducted to handle these kinds of events. I would like to suggest that future conventions, meetings and studies be held in some part of the country where there are few outside distractions such as those found in either New Orleans or Las Vegas, or Atlantic City. Seems to me the people attending these should be spending more time thinking about what might happen in the future and take it more seriously rather than using the event as a vacation. This is serious business and needs to be taken seriously. Peoples lives depend upon proper planning.