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Essays on Issues, Ideas and Reflections on the Times. Published now and
then. Opinions pro or con are welcome.

Depending on the Kindness of Strangers

North Miami Beach, FL 09-08-2005
A.H. Schectman

One of the problems with disaster is the appearance of problems no one had really thought about before the disaster.  In the instance of Hurricane Katrina which has devastated the Gulf Coast with something of the flavor of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, there is no fall out from radiation let loose by exploding atomic bombs.

The same can be said for the debacle of Chernoble. Mother Nature did the destruction in the Gold Coast, now reduced to rubble.  But the camp followers that always seem to accompany these events are disease and opportunists.

It is known although not talked about much, but all the sewage humans and their animals created in that area were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. All of this lethal soup was thrown back onto the people who created it.  The sewers no longer work and the disease laden filth has had a chance to infect those who did not escape and all the workers who came to give them succor. The refugees from the horrors of too much wind and rain have taken their misfortune with them to other cities that opened their arms to give them comfort.  That disease is now in those Good Samaritan cities and will spread even further.  There are no records - who was given what medicine - how much more was needed - all lost in the hellish conditions in trying to pry the survivors from clinging to what was gone.

Infectious diseases are just that.  They are passed from human to human and reside in the digestive tracts and waste from those humans. The Hurricane not only destroyed cities and lives but let loose the specter of plague.

Surely as flies that settle on decay, other camp followers besides germs and viruses are the opportunists who come down to see how they can profit by the misery of others.  There are riches in even the destroyed houses, streets, and services provided by electricity and wires strung on poles or buried under ground.  There are also the looters who emptied stores of goods that could be of no use to people without homes and power. In chaos there is opportunity for those, who like carpet baggers and scalawags after the Civil War, descended on the South to find profit where there was no spirit to rebuild and help themselves.

The worst of the opportunists are those who were elected to represent the needs of constituents and who simply helped themselves by being elected over and over again while subsidizing their main friends and base of voters. What is so disappointing is that even amidst the ruins of the Gulf civilization real solutions are ignored while friends help friends and the vast majority of those who lost everything will be dependent for the rest of their lives on the kindness of strangers.  And, then, what about all those tax refunds and rebates given to the Rich? When will they give back all that money they did not need? The rescue agencies are waiting.



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