Tuesday, August 30, 2005

After Katrina and Beyond

As the enormity of the destruction of Hurricane Katrina sinks in, I realize that snarky comments like my previous post may be inopportune…that is, of course, until someone tries to take advantage of the situation for personal or political gain. Then all bets are off. But for now, the people in Lousiana, Mississippi, and Alabama don’t give a rat’s ass about politics… I hope.

Again, here is the list of some relief agencies that are helping out, courtesy of Interstate4Jamming. If you know of any more agencies that are helping that aren’t on the list, drop me a note and a link in the comments so others can see them and do what they can to help if they can.

Update: a loyal reader suggested we not forget the four-legged; here’s an organization called Noah’s Wish that helps with animal rescue. Here is the link to the Louisiana SPCA, even though it’s based in New Orleans and may not be able to respond. Their site is still operational, though.

In spite of the devastation, there will be those who will take advantage of this and set up phony charities — human nature, after all, has its light and its dark side. If you receive an unsolicited appeal either by phone or by e-mail from anyone saying they’re collecting funds to help the hurricane victims, be extremely cautious. Most reputable disaster relief groups do not cold-call solicit for donations, and any shark with a phone and a boiler room can set up shop and tell you they’re calling from “the Red Cross.” If you have any doubts, ask the caller to mail you the request with a complete packet of information explaining how the charity operates and a recent financial statement. If you get any static or they say they need the money now, terminate the conversation and contact the charity of your choice on your own.

One thing a disaster like this does is underline how united we can be as a country. It also points out rather well how useful it can be to have a strong federal government every now and then. This is one of the things we pay federal taxes for. There’s no way that Florida, Lousiana, Mississippi, and Alabama can begin to pay for the clean-up and the restoration by themselves, and all the charities and insurance companies in the world can’t put the infrastructure back together — the highways, the utilities, or the cities. Hurricane Katrina may have been the worst storm in a hundred years, but there’s three more months of hurricane season left, and this time last year we still hadn’t had Frances, Ivan, or Jeanne. So the next time you hear someone complain about how high their taxes are, remind them gently that the one of the definitions of “united” — as in United States — means sharing the load and helping out those who can’t help themselves.