HERD ABOUT IT?
by Ana Grarian
Ron Paul has now been fully chastised by the progressive press for his desire to dissolve FEMA and return to 1900 when natural disasters were remedied by the efforts of neighbors. But our neighborhoods are not the board and batten construction that they once were. How do we rebuild the Twin Towers with volunteers, or a bridge, or dam or hospital? And where do those volunteers get the resources?
Now I’m fully aware of the power of neighbors helping neighbors. I had a neighbor who had a serious accident and was unable to work his farm. The neighbors came round with their tractors and harvested his crops for him. My neighbor has mown my lawn while we were at the hospital after my Dad had a stroke, and has plowed my driveway many times. In my town neighbors still bring casseroles to the homes of folks who are going through difficult times. And I think that after 911 and Katrina and other disasters we have seen neighbors and neighborhoods pull together to help one another out.
In late June 2006 when the Susquehanna crested at an almighty high of 33′, forcing many area residents from their homes for days, faculty and staff of Binghamton U. pulled out the stops to help more than 1,800 evacuees at the Events Center, which served as a Red Cross emergency shelter for five days.
“And who is my neighbor?”
When a young man I know tried to find his birth mother, it turns out the guys in the Tshirt shop next door knew her, because they had run a business in a town 250 miles away and she was their UPS driver. After Hurricane Irene I learned about a devastating flood near my sister’s house from a Facebook post of someone I’ve never met. When we couldn’t reach her by phone, I posted to the Facebook page of a winery down the street from her. They let me know where to get info and let me know what the conditions were in that neighborhood. Turns out one of the owners of that winery is that young man’s landlord.
Who is my neighbor?
FEMA has many problems as does any agency, whether it’s your local volunteer fire dept, a city’s professional emergency planning center or a giant government organization. Make it better don’t throw it out.
The advantage of a larger organization with skilled members, is that they can be removed enough from a disaster to be organized. And they can manage multiple disasters at once, and different types. Their is still plenty of work to be done by volunteers.
Many people from my community have gone in groups to help out after floods and hurricanes and fires, often organized by churches. After Katrina various denominations had camps that supported volunteer groups. These semi-permanent encampments meant that each group did not have to start from scratch. The tents and kitchens were there. Folks brought personal supplies, clothing and tools, but the infrastructure was there, and managed by people who had developed an expertise.
Who is my neighbor?
We are a large country, but we profess to be a UNITED people. Does that not make south Texas my neighbor as well as the Southern Tier or South Bronx? We are people. Does that not make the Somali my brother and the Haitian my sister?
If my taxes go to the east coast now for Hurricane Irene they’ll go to the upper midwest for blizzard relief or California for forest fires or Texas for drought and Missouri for flood, when the time comes. And when I am in need, my neighbors will be there for me.
Who is my neighbor?
Lest you think it is only the US and wealthy western nations, foreign countries frequently offer aid to the US after disaster strikes. Cuba has well trained medical teams, with vast experience in handling hurricane related disasters, that travel to help out other countries.
The list of countries that came to US aid after Katrina is inspiring, and startling (we were at war in at least two of these nations at the time):
Countries and organizations that offered to send aid mentioned by the State Department included Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, the European Union, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, International Energy Agency, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, NATO, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Organization of American States, Oman, OPEC, Pakistan, Paraguay, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, United Kingdom,
36 “Which of these do you think was a neighbor
to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:25, 36-37 New International Version (NIV)