Katrina – Your Help is Still Needed

UPDATE: I had to update this post today (3/27)… A few days after my inital post, irony reared its ugly head. It seems that the organization that I asked you to give so much of yourself to has now been implicated in what could be wide spread theft — theft of money or goods, or both.

The New York Times reported Friday that more than a dozen Red Cross volunteers described an organization that had few cost controls, little oversight of its inventory and no system of basic background checks for its volunteers.

You know things are in bad shape when Congress has to coerce an organization like the Red Cross to begin investigations into blatant oversights and mismanagement within its own organization. So, for now, if you still even feel generous, I would look for another institution in which to provide your time, money, or donations. I’ve taken down the donation banner on the page indefinitely.

Red Cross - KatrinaSo, February 28, 2006 marked the 6-month point since Hurricane Katrina made landfall. I’ve watched, read, and listened to a lot of documentaries, specials and, of course, news stories in that time. Some was good news — heart-warming stories of hope and perseverance. Others paint a pretty grim picture. The level of neglect, confusion, and chaos that is still affecting the victims, and our country, leaves me in disbelief at times. In many ways, the brunt of the storm is being felt more now than it was initially.

Over the weekend, I heard that the government is asking a good deal of the people that received relief money to send some back. They “accidentally” sent them too much. WHAT?!? Okay, I understand that a storm of this magnitude had to affect the systems we had in place to assist in the aftermath, but story after story continue to show the mistakes and mismanagement that has gone on over the course of the effort. I also know that there are two sides to every story…

It’s easy to isolate all the bad — the initial F.E.M.A nightmare, the ‘Superdome’ problem, blah, blah, blah. And, I don’t want to do that; that’s not my point. Again, there has been a tremendous amount of good done as well. But, in light of all of this, you can’t see and read these stories without thinking about it on a more personal level. I live on the coast. A hurricane could just as easily come and wipe everything my family has off the map as well.

That brings me to the gist of this post, my personal responsibility to the victims of that storm and to this country. While working in the yard this weekend, I thought about all the stories I’ve digested over the past six months and realized that I could continue helping, my own way. The government is doing what they can, but the victims and we, as a country, would be nowhere near where we are now if people hadn’t made the individual efforts they did. I couldn’t think about the victims without thinking about myself — how fortunate my family and I, really are, comparatively. Life has been nothing but kind to me. I consider myself to be very lucky. There’s been a whole crap-load of hard work, luck and serendipity that has brought me to where I am now.

So, I did what I did — what I could. I hope it helps; I hope it makes it somewhere and to someone that needs it. Yeah, I don’t know with all certainty that it will, but who does? If there’s any kind of truth in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it’s almost impossible to succeed, but, who cares, really? The answer must be in the attempt.

(I’m getting off my soapbox now… I put the ‘Katrina Banner’ back up in the right corner of the page and directed it to a new link at the Red Cross. Should you feel so inclined, do what you can. If it helps, remember, you can get 15 cents on the dollar back from your donation on your next tax return. 😉 )

This entry was posted in People, Ramblings.

15 Comments

  1. Ah the struggle continues March 20, 2006 at 11:16 am #

    I liked this post. Didn’t know you had such a postive outlook on the struggles of humanity. Interesting read.

    I seriously hope that they don’t expect to get their money back.

  2. Fattkidd March 21, 2006 at 10:16 am #

    Yeah, send money to the Red Cross… they’re a good organization. I’ve sent money and all that, we had a fund drive here at work, my employer donated refrigerated trailers to haul ice and stuff down there…. donated through various churches, Salvation Army… you could donate almost anywhere a few months back. That’s all well and good and it’s typical of the American spirit, of helping out our fellow man. But, it’s also a bunch of bull. We as Americans need to ask ourselves, ‘What do we pay taxes for?’. Do we only want to spend our money on fighting wars and beefing up security… because that’s where HALF of the annual budget goes… defense. Over a trillion dollars a year being spent right now on the Pentagon, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, and countless security/defense ‘situations’ or ‘hot spots’ around the world. Then there’s the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, the DEA, ATF, HOMELAND SECURITY (which is where the current admin decided to place FEMA basically reducing it to a shell of it’s former self), INS – BORDER PATROL. We are in a constant state of war, fear and loathing and are building a security state the like of which the world has never known!!! Is that what we want? Is that how we want to spend our hard earned money… building walls and fences and gates around our houses, arming oursleves to the teeth to fight some shadowy figures with box cutters? I don’t want to demean what happened a few years back in NYC but damn people! HAve we all lost our friggin’ minds!? Can anyone reading this post tell me who the next largest spender on defense is? Who is #2 behind the US (’cause you know we’re number one)? And, can you tell me how much they spent last year on defense?

    I’ll tell you… China. And, they spent less than $40 billion last year. Yep. $40 billion compared to over a $trillion!!! And, how secure has all that spending really made us? Well, you all know the answer to that one. Box cutters… that’s all I have to say.

    So, people, keep sending you checks to the Red Cross. And, if you really want to do something to help, take an active interest in your government. Find out where your hard earned dollars REALLY go. (and no, it doesn’t go to feed welfare moms prime rib and Dom) Maybe if we can all manage to wake up from this collective hysteria, we could actually afford take care of one another.

    I think a bumper sticker I saw the other day sums it up best. It read:

    ‘MAKE LEVIES, NOT WAR!’

    So true.
    PEACE!

  3. Otis March 26, 2006 at 11:13 am #

    What the? Who wrote that?
    Look … I would be much more inclined to help if:
    A) The Red Cross weren’t so mismanaged
    B) The Government had a clue
    C) The Local Government/State Government weren’t so corrupt
    D) The people of New Orleans weren’t so lazy and stupid
    E) The people of NO had chosen their leaders wisely
    F) I wasn’t working until May of every year just to pay all my taxes
    G) 3/4 of every dollar you spend in donations goes to pay someone’s bloated salary

    The Government makes sure that I do the right thing by taking taxes out of my check. You know, no offense, but remember that 98% of those people wouldn’t give a shit about you if the same thing happened in your neck of the woods. They should have gotten out … but they were the ones that chose Ray Nagin as Mayor, not me. Let this be a lesson … Chose your leaders wisely.

  4. The Kid March 26, 2006 at 7:15 pm #

    HAHAHLOL!

    Well, glad to see peeps are reading my madness, if nothing else. . . All your points are well taken. But, add ’em up and what? It’s the end of the Earth. Everyone for themselves, huh? Probably not far from the truth.

    Let me add, I wrote this lovely post about the ‘Red Cross’ — an organization that is independent of the government, and promotes the fact — ONE DAY prior to a huge story breakin’ ( http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=1765630 ) about what a corrupt, stealin’, bunch of F#$Ks they have working for them.

    So, yeah. . . long and short of it, nowhere and nothing’s safe. And, the lot of ’em aren’t to be trsuted! RUN FOR THE HILLS. . . guns in hand!

    CRACKS! But, seriously. . . what a f#$ked up place this world is. And, people wonder why I dislike more than I like.

  5. Fattkidd March 27, 2006 at 11:56 am #

    The point of my first post was that it’s all about basic resource allocation. We pay enough in taxes that we shouldn’t HAVE to donate to the Red Cross!!! Otis is right, our leaders, on all levels, from both/all parties, have all failed us miserably. The gov’t has been taken over by the Military Industrial Complex and the Spoils System has made a raging comeback. Holding public office was originally envisioned as a public service. A service that was never meant to become a career. Which is exactly what it has become today. Career politicians who are only concerned with winning their next election which involves a whole bunch of fund-raising, palm-greasing, favor-peddling, fraud, greed, coruption… you name it. Let the looting begin!!! Our most vital public services have been sold to the highest bidder. It’s all about profit now. And nero fiddled his guitar at a fundraiser in Cali while NOLA was washed away.
    The current crew running the show believes the federal gov’t should only be responsible for providing for the national defense. That’s it. “…shrink it to the size where it can easily be drowned in the bathtub!” is their creed. So, they had no problem turning FEMA into a shell. And, it’s real easy to sit back and blame the people of NOLA for their woes but, the people of Miss and Ala. are having just as hard a time.
    Ask yourself, ‘Why did things go so much more smoothly and efficiently when Andrew devastated South Fl in ’92?’ That storm was every bit as destructive and devastating as Katrina was. But, why was there not the caos as with Katrina? Because FEMA was being run by competent people. The federal gov’t gave a shit. And, the insurance companies weren’t allowed to walk away from their responsibilities. Sure, the NOLA local officals were a bit incompetent at times. The blew some calls they should have made. But, they were being told the whole time not to worry because the feds were on the way. The calvary was coming. Only, it took them a week to get there. Hisotrically, the National Guard has always been there to help. This time, they were stuck in Iraq.
    So, let’s hope you nor I never have to find out what we would do if we were in a similar situation. I hope that our fellow countrymen would come to our aid. I would hope they would give a shit. But, seeing how calous we have all become, how for some of us, the aftermath of Katrina was nothing more than an ‘opportunity’, how a bunch of us chose to try to make a profit instead of lend a hand, maybe they won’t. I guess I couldn’t blame them. And, judging by the comments here, none of us could blame them. They only ones we could and should blame, would be ourselves… right?

  6. The Kid March 27, 2006 at 1:39 pm #

    I don’t talk politics. . . as I don’t talk religion. That’s not say I don’t have my own feelings for either one, but I certainly ain’t going to try and push them onto someone else. People are going to do whatever they want regardless of me wasting my “hot air.”

    I guess the “bigger picture” of my post is starting to get lost here; I tired to not focus on the political angle in the post. I had to mention it, but I didn’t want to make it the main focus and I tired to stay objective.

    All said, yeah, the government should have had no problem handling the New Orleans disaster. But, this time they weren’t prepared, made bad decisions, etc., etc. So, yeah, “pick your leaders. . .” True enough! But, since the government failed to provide total relief, regardless of politics, it seemed pertinent TO ME to assist outside of what taxes I paid, wasted and misdirected as they might have been. Again, pick your leaders. Times are what they are. Again, I find out a day later than my donations might only be feeding theivery. What can I tell you?

    You choose to do whatever you want. I still believe – to myself – that regardless of what might have happened to my “donation,” that there is something larger in that I made an attempt. It’s a personal thing. And, no one needs to validate it for me. As well, I need nothing in return. It wasn’t done expecting that “my brother” would do the same for me. I could only hope that that would be the case.

    In conclusion, I guess all the comments lead to another topic altogether, vote wisely. This site won’t ever discuss that madness.

    Out.

    P.S. FatKidd, you need to get a site kickin’ — “that madness” is all you!

  7. Fattkidd March 28, 2006 at 10:24 am #

    No. It’s pointless really. You can lead a horse to water but, you can’t make him drink.

  8. Otis April 7, 2006 at 10:55 pm #

    Look, don’t give me this “I don’t talk religion or politics” crap!!!!!
    Have some balls. Don’t be an observer. PICK A SIDE TO THE FIGHT. Whatever fight means something to you. But don’t sit on the sidelines. Sure, you may look like a jerk sometimes, but at least you had the balls to not give a shit what people think of you.

  9. The Kid April 8, 2006 at 5:35 pm #

    Johnny O., I DON’T talk about politics or religion — and that’s that! That’s MY SIDE, AND I picked it. I don’t need to discuss my political and theological ideals and side with anyone. Peeps are going to do whatever they want without me talking to them about it. And, I could give a shit what they think of me.

    Most are all idiots anyway. It’s the majority of THEM that hang out the sidelines, yet give a chance to talk and they never stop. I don’t need lines recited from ‘Biloxi Blues’ to get me interested in discussing the political “angle” of that hurricane’s aftermath or my political beliefs.

    Have some balls?!? Have some brains — you’ve lost of the point of the post completely; you’re trying to surround it with some political justification.

    I don’t and didn’t need perfect political policy (or all your items A thorough G to be corrected) to do what I did, nor should anyone to determine whether or not to help in a cause.

    So, as much as you might think I didn’t, I did exactly what you, or should I say Neil Simon, said, I picked a side to the fight.

    Peace, out!

  10. Fattkidd April 10, 2006 at 10:01 am #

    I have to agree with Otis on this one, at least in regards to politics. Religion is another subject and it’s not a subject based on much reality. You can’t argue or debate faith. You either believe or you don’t. You might be able to debate HOW you choose to WORSHIP (or not worship) but, I think we’ve all heard most of the arguments for or against religion at this stage in our lives.

    Politics is another story though. How can you not care or get involved in or take a side or whatever when we’re talking about people making decisions that affect the way you live you daily life!? It boggles my mind! And, people can be influenced by what you say and quite easily, I must say. So, to say that you can’t make any real difference or add anything to the debate is just wrong. There is a lot you can do.

    Do you not care if your government decides to wage a war against Iran? What if part of the attack plan involved the use of nukes? Does that not matter to you? What about gas prices? Do you not care about energy security? Do you care that Big Oil is making record profits AND getting huge subisdies (welfare) from the government at the same time? Does it matter to you wether we invest in renewable energy or just keep pumping money into oil, waging wars in foreign lands to make sure we have access to it? What if your future son or daughter were to be called up to go fight that war?

    That is the tip of the iceberg, my friend. If you think there is nothing you can do about it, you’re wrong. Simple things such as signing petitions, going to rallys, joining a group that shares your views and has the resources to do something on your behalf. That’s what democracy is all about and it’s not only our right but also our responsiblity to be involved.

    “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could
    do only a little.”
    — Edmund Burke, statesman and writer (1729-1797)

    “The penalty that good men pay for not being interested in politics is to be governed by men worse than themselves.”
    — Plato, philosopher (427-347 BCE)

  11. The Kid April 10, 2006 at 12:57 pm #

    JESUS! You’ve lost the topic TOO, Eric, my bro, my friend! BUT, MY GOD!

    I don’t know how to say it more clearly! I’ve obviously failed in my previous attempts. . .

    It’s NOT that I don’t care and don’t take sides in politics or the political policy of America! I DO for Christ Sake already! I’d be just as big as an idiot as the “others” I talked about if I didn’t. It’s just that I’m not going to debate mine ON THIS SITE AND WITH ANYONE FOR THAT MATTER!

    My decisions about politics are MINE; THEY’RE MY SIDE and the’re not up for debate publically or with anyone else. I TAKE SIDES and I am INVOLVED! I just don’t care to waste my time listening to others. I’ll interpret policy my own way — you guys do the same. We’re all likely on the EXACT SAME SIDE ANYHOW! But, continuing on the purpose of the original post, even though I might COMPLETELY disagree with policy, localized (e.g. Red Cross) and/or nationally (e.g. U.S. Government), that that is a justified enough reason to not help a cause is f’in insanity.

    I just don’t care to debate people’s likes or dislikes of policy. I’m going to read and digest all the information for myself and make my own judgement. And, FattKidd, you’re the one that said it, not me:

    (in regards to discussing the politics of that hurricane, the Red Cross, or the policy of the United State Government)

    “No. It’s pointless really. You can lead a horse to water but, you can’t make him drink.”

    So, why you do have to contradict yourself now?!? And when did I ever say, “So, to say that you can’t make any real difference…” WHEN DID I EVER SAY THAT!?!? Again, I must not write well as my points certainly have been taken out of context! Again, if it’s so important to “add to the debate” why would you say the above?

    I hope this clears it up and you guys get out of my grill now! Save your “get involved and take a side” s#!t for the people who need it — or, use the rest of this post to rant to the world about what you hate and what all the problems are with the Red Cross, New Orleans, and the U.S. Government. I don’t have that kind of time. (crackin’)

  12. Fattkidd April 10, 2006 at 1:43 pm #

    “No. It’s pointless really. You can lead a horse to water but, you can’t make him drink.”

    You misunderstood me, dude. What I meant was, you can’t get people who don’t want to think about shit, to think about shit (you can’t force people to talk politics). I guess it’s just one of those subjects that most people would rather ignore than deal with. But, debate amongst people open to debate can eventually lead to ideas… maybe even action.

    So, that’s what I was commenting on regarding your posts… that you don’t talk politics with people because it doesn’t change anything or it does no good. “People are going to do whatever they want regardless of me wasting my “hot air.” “. Well, if they won’t even discuss the subject then, yeah, you’re beating a dead horse. Most of the time, people don’t want to discuss the issues of the day because they’re almost totally ignorant of them. But, there are those who are willing to discuss and some of us even have enough of an open mind to exchange ideas without it turning into an argument. But, I guess too many of us aren’t open-minded and maybe that’s why no one wants to discuss politics. But, if the subject comes up in casual converstation, then you should share whatever knowledge of the issue you may have. That’s all I’m saying.

    You’re right tho. This post has gone way off subject so, I’ll shut up now.

    Might I suggest, in leiu of donating to the Red Cross, taking a week of your vacation time and going to NOLA to volunteer? Then you’ll know for sure you helped out.

  13. The Kid April 10, 2006 at 2:35 pm #

    “. . . that you don’t talk politics with people because it doesn’t change anything or it does no good.”

    I hear ya, but that’s not what I was implying — that it’s doesn’t change anything or does no good. The original post mentioned that the government was “asking for money back” from the people they originally sent it to. It was that very “political blunder” that got me to think about donating in the first place. And, I publically posted about just that!

    So, if that’s not an open discussion about “policy” (even though I didn’t want to drowned the post with politics — which is exactly what is happening now), I don’t know what is. I had every intention for it to help people (change) think and do something they might not do otherwise (do good). So, in all, the original post, before it went so off-topic, was trying to promote the exact things you say are necessary. And, for the record, I think they are too.

    But, trust me, I’ll remember this post when I think about posting something similar in the future. ^o)

    And, I’ll always agree that debate among semi-educated people is always good. You’ve known me long enough “understand” this of me by now.

  14. Fattkidd April 10, 2006 at 3:18 pm #

    Point taken. You are an activist in your own right. And, sometimes it’s good to go back and re-read the entire thread. But, I still say our tax dollars are misused!

  15. The Kid April 10, 2006 at 3:30 pm #

    “But, I still say our tax dollars are misused!”

    Indeed they are! But, by now, we all know that’s another subject — and web page, altogether! 😉

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