Action speaks louder than words

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 6, 2005

News-Herald Editorial

Natural disasters tend to bring out the best and, unfortunately, the worst in everyone.

For proof, we need to look no further than the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Even though there were plenty of previous studies conducted; fancy maps drawn out and colorful charts and graphs detailing what type of impact a major hurricane could have on the fragile environment that comprises the Gulf Coast areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, there is no possible way to immediately deal with the actual impact a storm as powerful as Katrina leaves behind.

Who here in the Roanoke-Chowan area knew beforehand how to handle the major flooding left behind in Hurricane Floyd’s wake in 1999? No one could address our immediate needs due to flooded roads and compromised bridges.

How about Hurricane Isabel just a mere two years ago. Because of downed trees and power lines, many in our area went days without the basic necessities.

With Hurricane Katrina, 90,000 square miles stretched over three states were affected by a storm that not only packed a punch from a wind standpoint, but a tremendous tidal surge never before seen.

For the Congressional Black Caucus, Rev. Jesse Jackson and rapper Kanye West to spout off against state and federal officials for what they perceive as a lack of hasty response to the victims of this national tragedy is racial doublespeak at its worse.

It’s a known fact that the first line of defense in any situation, whether a hurricane or a terrorist attack, falls in the hands of local authorities. Look no further than 9-11 for proof.

If you’re looking to split hairs, then blame local government along Katrina’s deadly path of destruction. Ask New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin why didn’t he order the use of hundreds of buses sitting idle in parking lots prior to Katrina’s arrival. There was time to move those buses into place, collect a portion of the reported 150,000 &uot;Big Easy&uot; residents who said they had no method of travel and take them to higher ground…..well before the storm arrived.

And what did the good Mayor say in defense of his incompetency? He blamed state and federal officials for their lack of timely response.

However, this storm touched the lives of millions of people, not just those residing in New Orleans. It’s a safe bet that Hurricane Katrina will cause a greater disruption in the lives of Americans than 9-11.

There are those who think that by slinging racial arrows, we’ll all be better off the next time a major hurricane pays a visit. To them we say action speaks louder than words.

Rather than standing behind a podium and spouting off words, grab your checkbook and send a donation to the American Red Cross, Salvations Army or another charitable organization hard at work in the Gulf Coast states. Better yet, climb down from your pedestal and go to New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, Gulfport or a tiny community in between and lend a helping hand.

There’s plenty of time later to tongue-lash those you think are at fault for an alleged lack of timely response. For now, Americans – black, white, red -need our help.

Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have been displaced, some perhaps forever from the land they so love. If you can provide goods, prayers, money and or property/homes for them during this tragic time, please act now by contacting the local government in your county of residence.

Stop complaining, stop pointing fingers and stop using the &uot;R&uot; word. Our American brethren – black, white and red – need our help, not a bunch of hot air. They saw enough of that one week ago.