Sunday, August 28, 2011

Follow in my wake…

As I went to bed Saturday night/Sunday morning (about 1:30 a.m.) the rain from Irene was still coming down. Despite my concerns about losing power, it was my house’s Achilles heel – no power, no power to the sump pumps in my basement – there was one thought rolling through my head.

“Is this all there is?”

I’ve been through a hurricane or two (or 13). The names of some of the storms are familiar to anyone living in hurricane territory: Hugo, Fran, Floyd, Katrina and Rita. These are the big ones. Storms that made the news for days – or weeks or months or years – on end.

Anyway, in my experience Irene was a little storm. According to the news, the first hurricane to hit the U.S. in three years. Probably why the news went way nutso as it arrived. Could also be because Irene aimed herself at the most densely populated part of the country – more than 50 million people live in Irene’s path. And, except for the folks in North Carolina – go Tar Heels! (sorry, had to) – none of them have any idea what the hell to do when a hurricane comes knockin’.

The only experience they have with hurricane’s is what they’ve seen on the news, and that news always focuses on the destruction of the historic storms: Hugo, Andrew, Gloria, Ivan, Katrina. Sadly, they never seem to mention Rita, one of the five most powerful storms to ever hit the U.S.

So a little overreaction is expected. In fact, in my opinion, it’s not a bad thing. Better safe than sorry when there’s a sixth of the country’s population in the path of a tropical cyclone, I say.

Yeah, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, the Weather Channel, the WaPo and all the local channels went way over the top, but let me tell you the one thing that’s really annoying me and the whole point of this post.

I was reading through the reader comments on the WaPo and, it seems, the whole situation is the President’s fault. Be it the overreaction (true) or the lack of preparedness (false, never seen a storm better prepared for) or how it’s going to be used for political gain (like this has never happened) or how it caused an increase in the July jobless rate (what the fuck?).

How is it that we’ve become so divided as a country? I’m really tired of this crap. Democrats demonizing Republicans and Tea Partiers; Tea Partiers and the GOP blaming all the ills facing us today on the Democrats and the president. The problems we face today are a direct result of the base animosity among us.

I know this isn’t a blinding revelation.

One thing I learned from all the hurricanes I’ve lived through and covered (especially in Texas after Rita): Once the storm’s passed it doesn’t matter what color your skin is or what ticket you punch on election day, if you don’t work together it takes 10 times longer to clean up, rebuild and get back to the business of life.

We’re facing serious problems here in the United States today and if we don’t work together it’ll be a miracle to find the light at the end of the tunnel. People need to shut their mouths, roll up their sleeves and reach out a hand to their neighbor. Calling someone in another political party stupid or un-American or a traitor is exactly that – stupid and un-American.

I don’t know how we can sway people to this point of view, I think the hatred is too deep-seated. But I think if those of us of good intentions try, we can maybe drown out the chatter.

“The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it” – P.J. O’Rourke.

Note: I started this blog back in the closing days of the last presidential election – relatively speaking – and there was lots and lots to write about. I’ve been remiss of late and not posted anywhere near as much as I want. More times than I can count in the last couple of months I’ve said, “That’ll make a great post,” and done nothing about it. Hell, it took a hurricane for me to write something. I’m thinking that with the election getting into full swing – god help up, the election is 14 months away – I won’t be lacking in subject matter.


HK said...

I'm glad you're safe and sound after Irene. Rita was a bad storm, as well as Ike. The hurricane I remember most growing up in Houston was Alicia in the early 80's.

You said it right - coming together is the only way, an the right thing to do.

Anonymous said...

good points all, especially on the katrina anniversary (as i reread chris rose's book for the umpteenth time). glad you made it through unscathed.