Saturday, September 03, 2005

Warning to Californians

We Californians know we live in earthquake country. Some of us claim to prefer earthquakes oover hurricanes and tornados. Many of us joke about The Big One. Others would rather live in denial. However, as I've watched the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina unfold, as I've read news reports and blogs, I've realized that we can expect the following in the event of a devastating earthquake hitting our state:
  • We will have no food, water, utilities, or communication for a long, long time.
  • The National Guard will take at least five days to arrive with aid. It will probably take even longer for them to reach the neediest areas.
  • FEMA officials will go on national TV and blame us for not "making ourselves known" to them. Of course, without electricity or TV, we won't be able to get the message that we need to rescue ourselves from the rubble unaided and find FEMA officials to make our needs known before they will help.
  • If any of our mayors or the governor express strong feelings about the nightmare they are facing and if, heaven forbid, they use strong language to criticize the federal government's slow response, they will be accused of being the worst governor and mayor in the nation.
  • Christians will post on the internet and preach in sermons that the earthquake is God's judgment on the wicked, wicked state of California. If Hollywood or San Francisco gets smushed, this will be further proof to these people. Never mind that they support Hollywood by being consumers of entertainment or that they visit Hollywood and San Francisco on vacations...We all had it coming and deserve God's wrath.
  • People will blame us for living in California. Why on earth would anyone but a complete idiot live in an area that expected earthquakes? Serves us right for not evacuating...
  • Our local and state leaders will be blamed and criticized no matter what they do.
  • If Bush is still president, he will be blamed.
  • People all over the country will turn into arm chair experts on earthquakes, disaster preparedness, disaster relief, etc., etc. and will gladly wax eloquent over what we have done wrong and are doing wrong.
  • On the plus side, people will be generous with donations. On the other hand, maybe a lot of people won't, because they think all Californians are rich and live in fancy, expensive homes.
  • Because of Hollywood, the news will be full of reports about celebrities and their homes and their plight.
  • People will think we shouldn't rebuild, since we'll just be hit with more earthquakes.
  • When armed gangs turn our city streets into anarchy, with rioting and looting and raping and murdering, Christians will post online that ordering troops to shoot the thugs is the worst possible thing. Others will cry for stiffer gun control laws. No one will seem to care about the innocent victims they want to be left defenseless.
May God have mercy.


  1. I understand. . . I've never really been concerned about hurricanes, even living in Florida. My experience has always been, "Oh, they've past us. . ." And while I reassure my mother we are on much higher ground than N.O., reality is we see the devastation from a year ago when we take I75 south to see my sister in law. . . And I know we aren't exempt from natural disasters.

    At this point, all of my relatives are out of N.O. Several of them have had homes completely destroyed. And yet, we are so fortunate. . . we have extended family across the country and resources to care for one another in the short term, until long term decisions are made.

  2. So glad to hear that your relatives are safe and out of New Orleans. I simply cannot imagine what they have been through or what you have been through as you've been waiting for them to get to safety.

    How sad to lose homes. I know that as Christians we should view all this as temporal, and I often remark sardonically, "This will all burn in the end anyway", but we do get attached to our homes and to our stuff.

    And it is so hard to start over when everything is lost.

  3. The National Guard did not take 5 days to get to New Orleans. There were units there from day one. The units that arrived 5 days later were reinforcments to restore order to a city where martial law was declared. Even before the Hurricane hit N.O. there were National Guard with FEMA poised in a large half moon around Luisana. Yes, it is Bush's fault that he did not forsee that there would be people rioting, looting, and shooting at police officers. He did not forsee that over 200 New Orleans police officers would leave their jobs. They were being depended on as the first responders. But even if Bush had forsaw this he could'nt have done much about it. What so few people are considering and none of the TV News are mentioning is that it is not the federal government that controls the National Guard but they are dispatched by the Governor of the state that they reside in. So instead of blaming Bush we should all be blaming the Governor of Luisana. Let us give credit where credit is due. FEMA, which IS under direct federal control was in the city within hours with food and water. What hampered their efforts was the citizens of New Orleans who were shooting at them and not allowing their helicopters to land at the Superdome.

  4. You know, as humans, when disaster, grief, and loss hit, it is "natural" for us to want to blame SOMEONE. For reasons, unbeknownst to those of us without degrees in physcology, it just makes the pain more "bearable"... if that is possible. If there is someone to blame...we feel better. But take a step above natural inclination and try to see the bigger picture. Why do we really need to blame anyone? This was an act of God. The enemy had to have permission to do this, God allowed it for reasons we may never ever know. It wasn't lack of foresight. All the foresight in the world could not have stopped this from happening. This isn't a race issue, as some celebrities are suggesting. It just happened. Let's stop pointing fingers, and just work together the best we can to help those that are in need rebuild their lives. Let's use this act of the ememy, to bring about glory to God. That's what life is all about anyway...right?

  5. Some good points have been raised here. It's true that there was some National Guard presence earlier. It's also true that there were other states that wanted to mobilize their Guard units and were prepared to do so but things got delayed in some sort of beaurocratic quagmire.

    Personally, I don't really see how Bush deserves the blame that many are casting his way. It's almost ridiculous how some are trying to pin everything from global warning to the New Orleans crime problem on him! Since Bush wasn't too pleased with the federal response, I don't think it's fair to try to pin blame on him that belongs elsewhere.

    From what I can tell, trying to sort through things, a big part of the problems with FEMA stem from it becoming part of Homeland Security. This wasn't something that had clicked with me until I began hearing and reading some analysis of how FEMA had been more efficient in past crises. Like many large beauracracies, it became a case of the indians not knowing who the chiefs were, and there was a lot of buck-passing. (How about that for mixing metaphors!)

    Actually, the FEMA presence, according to most of what I've read, was minimal if nonexistent in the first few days in New Orleans. I recall even hearing one FEMA spokesperson explaining that it was impossible to get into the city; he didn't have an explanation for why private relief agencies and even individuals, as well as the media, had been able to get in and out.

    Apparently working with FEMA (and I've heard this from individuals who have dealt with FEMA in past hurricanes) is similar to working with any government agency, in that there are procedures, proper channels, paperwork, etc., etc. That is why it is so important for us to support relief efforts that are more efficient and able to mobilize more quickly --- and especially important, are bringing that aid in the name of Jesus.

    As for the New Orleans police, I've heard varying numbers about how many officers have actually resigned.

    Given the ongoing crime issue in New Orleans, a lot of what happened shouldn't have surprised anyone. Then again, maybe I'm just cynical, but I've heard some interviews with police officers that said basically just that. One officer explained that this was "the same bunch we've been battling for the last twenty years". Crime is so bad in some areas of New Orleans that when I was there in August, I read about an experiment where the police shot off hundreds of rounds of blanks in one neighborhood---and not one person called to report gunfire. That's scary.

    Playing the blame game won't help the current situation. However, I think that it is important, at some future time, to decide what could have been done better, so that the same mistakes will not be repeated. New Orlean Mayor Nagin has admitted that there are things he would do differently today, knowing what he now knows. I'm sure, for example, that he would have handled the pre-hurricane evacuation much differently. But that's with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight...

    It certainly is true that all the planning in the world wouldn't have prevented a hurricane. Perhaps more people could have been spared. Perhaps aid could have reached them sooner. The sad fact is that in this world we will have suffering, unpreventable suffering. How we deal with it when it happens is what is important.

    As Believers, we have a hope that goes way beyond the here and now. It's been very heartening to me to read some wonderful testimonies amidst all the horrid news. God is still God, and His people still praise Him, even in the midst of loss and destruction.