Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Mon, Sep 05 2005

Help Is Help Is Help

Yesterday morning I got another story out of the Biloxi, Mississippi area. It seems that a couple of people took it upon themselves to load up a rental truck, load it with food and water, and drive it to the coastal area of Biloxi. The few people present in the neighborhood were so thankful to have someone bring them help that they were helping to unload and were sharing items carefully with those in need around them. At some point, law enforcement personnel showed up and pronounced the truck, its occupants and its contents a "safety hazard". Not only were the people told to stop distributing goods, but they, and the truck full of supplies, were taken from the area by law enforcement. The person who related this story to me said that there was no threat of any violence until the law officers showed up. When the officers tried to stop relief efforts and take the help away this person feared that the desperate people might actually harm the officers. It took a lot of talking for the matter to be resolved peacefully. Those being helped were only more frustrated and angry than ever.

People in the area are still being told to leave because of the unavailability of resources such as power, gasoline, fresh water and food. But some of them are staying in order to get help from FEMA. It's still very disorganized and, though no one expects perfection in the face of destruction, common sense and a kind heart would go a long way toward making people cooperative and reasonable at a time when their emotions are already running at a high peak.

We must learn lessons from all this for the next natural disaster, wherever that may be. If we don't, as bad as this is, the next time will be worse. When help is only permitted to come from a central agency (or government or group) there is danger that no help will arrive at all, or will be interpreted as interference. If someone doesn't make this clear to law enforcement and our governmental agencies I'm concerned that next time no one will listen. People will do what what they can, where they can, how they can, when they can with whatever they can-even if it means they might be jailed or killed for it. They're going to defy authority to do it.

posted at: 14:34 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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