Thursday, September 01, 2005

How Safe is Your Home

Natural disasters happen. I don't live in a flood plane, and certainly not six feet below sea level. This hurricane is not the President's fault. True. But how comfortable are you with the slow and understaffed response to a disaster that was foreseen, forewarned and "prepared" for? The loss of life due to the hurricane, the murders, the rapes, the starvation and dehydration conditions in New Orleans and Mississippi are horrifying--perhaps as bad as America has ever seen. Reporters quote Bush as saying that the only scenario as bad or worse than what has gone on in New Orleans this week would be the detonation of a nuclear bomb. Precisely, Mr. President. Homeland security has just been put to the most awful and practical of tests and it has not measured up. As evacuated people die by the hundreds, and refugees struggle to survive in an increasingly toxic and criminalistic environment, none of us, not even in a hardened post-9/11 New York City--maybe especially in NYC--can help but ask ourselves what would happen if a disaster of this magnitude were to strike us where we live. It's become obvious that our nation is no better prepared to respond to a large-scale tragedy than it was four years ago. Considering the lack of National Guardsmen and Army Reserves in New Orleans, many of whom are stationed in Iraq, it might just be worse.

A lot of things about living in New York make me nervous--the morning commute, the muggings, the rent--but the profusion of nuclear power plants on the eastern seaboard makes me downright scared. The fact that I will, next week, buy potassium iodide pills and make myself an innocuously-named "Go Bag" to prepare for the possibility of a nuclear terrorist attack, sounds crazy, even to my ears. But I'm going to do it. As we continue to witness the depths of human misery and anarchy in New Orleans, it is impossible to sustain the pretense that our government has the ways and means to protect and care for us in the event of future disasters.

Take Care of Your Own, Mr. Bush

"An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered up by a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.

'I don't treat my dog like that,' 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at the woman in the wheelchair. 'I buried my dog.' He added: 'You can do everything for other countries but you can't do nothing for your own people. You can go overseas with the military but you can't get them down here.'"--New York Times 9/1/05