I know a little bit about disasters. I can relate, to some extent, to what the flood victims are going through. After all, I learned what it's like to lose everything when my apartment building burned down four years ago.
But that's where my comprehension of their experience ends. After all, I was lucky. While I lost all of my material possessions, I still had a job to go back to. I still had my loved ones around me. And I still had a warm bed to sleep in, even though I had to spend a few nights in hotel rooms and other temporary settings. Not so bad, all things considered.
When my apartment building burned down, the fire department appeared within minutes. As a result, there were no human casualties, and many pets were saved as well. We did not have to spend endless days and nights trapped on a roof, in the rain, in the dark, not knowing when - or if - help might arrive. In New Orleans last week, many died while waiting for their heroes.
Now here is where someone has some explaining to do:
My fire was determined to be accidental. Nobody could have predicted it. It broke out suddenly, without warning. Yet help arrived almost immediately, and everyone survived.
The area's less fortunate folks were warned as well. Eventually, the whole city was ordered to evacuate. But how?
Those who stayed behind didn't all have a choice in the matter. Many were too poor to buy a bus ticket, or rent a hotel room upstate. They were ordered to evacuate, but they didn't have the means to do so.
Why weren't they rescued?
Why wasn't every military vehicle within a 500-mile radius deployed to the vicinity on the Saturday before the storm hit, to stand by for rescue operations? Heck, the Philadelphia area fire truck that came to my rescue probably could have made it to New Orleans faster than it took FEMA to get there.
Why weren't Greyhound, Amtrak, and other public transit services given federally-funded incentives to transport all New Orleans residents away from the danger?
And what the hell would happen if al-Qaeda were to strike within the U.S. tomorrow?
Osama must be loving this.