Fires in California
The news coming from the California wildfires is painful and hard to take. The destruction of so many homes is a real tragedy. However, even in the midst of this disaster, the response of everyone involved in the situation does give hope.
The response to Katrina showed the worst side of America. City government was incompetent- Ray Nagin left dozens of schoolbuses in the city instead of using them to evacuate because he couldn't find drivers. Yes, it apparently takes extensive training in Ray Nagin's world to drive a schoolbus. The state government was incompetent - it wasn't just New Orleans that was devastated by the hurricane. And the federal government was perhaps the most incompetent of all. They arrived late, did a poor job, then threw money helplessly and uselessly at the problem.
The residents of New Orleans weren't any better. Most of the chaos at the Superdome and elsewhere in New Orleans was sensationalistic exaggeration. (Remember that the the media suggested cannibalism took place there). However, the Superdome was still pretty awful. Looters ran wild in New Orleans. Even some policemen joined them, or simply fled their posts. In addition to a weak government response, the people of New Orleans broke under the pressure. Today, two years later, New Orleans is still reeling from the hurricane.
However, the response to the California wildfires is representative of what is best in America. Here both the state and federal responses have been very effective. There have been no reports of firefighters shirking their duty, as in New Orleans. On the contrary, there are numerous reports of dedicated firefighters working 48 hours straight. They are living proof that not all of our heros are in Iraq.
Equally uplifting is the response of the individuals forced to evacuate. The number of reported lootings is in single digits. Qualcomm Stadium is far from the hellhole of the Superdome- here, cooperation and aid for the needy reign. The California wildfires, though tragic and heartbreaking, are a testament to the real spirit of America.
A brief note. One of my favorite bloggers, Bill Whittle, wrote back in September of 2005:
The whole post is very, very good and worth reading, and the events in California seem to confirm his hypothesis.
Only a few minutes ago, I had the delightful opportunity to read the comment of
a fellow who said he wished that white, middle-class, racist,
conservative (jerks) like myself could have been herded into the Superdome
Concentration Camp to see how much we like it. Absent, of course, was the
fundamental truth of what he plainly does not have the eyes or the imagination
to see, namely, that if the Superdome had been filled with white, middle-class,
racist, conservative (jerks) like myself, it would not have been a refinery of
horror, but rather a citadel of hope and order and restraint and compassion. (I edited out some R rated language)