Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Good and Bad- after effects of a tragedy.

In my neck of the woods, one week ago we had a horrific bunch of tornados come through.  I cannot begin to describe the devastation.  We have so very many people from surrounding towns that are now homeless because of the havoc that each tornado wreaked.  We also had over 39 people lose their lives in the process, including a young family of five.  From the beginning, their story just ripped my heart out. As with any tragedy the storms and the aftermath of the storms have brought out the best and worst in people.  Watching the news has been tough this week just because of the difference in the way folks have responded.  

Let's start with the bad.  I was absolutely appalled to see that in under 24 hours, our State Police had to issue a warning for the homeowners that were heading back to survey the damage that they would have to be cautious about entering their homes- not because what was left was so dangerous but because there had already been looters in the area.  Next was that there was a man who was caught loading up his van full of food after showing up at a food bank and impersonating a volunteer.  I am sorry for being so blunt, but anyone who would loot a home after this kind of event or would steal food from a food bank is nothing more than the scum of the earth.  What made my blood boil, and I don't know why I do this to myself, was the arm-chair quarterbacks who left truly ignorant comments on the different news stories online.  One example that nearly made my head explode was on a news story on msnbc about the family I referenced above.  While many of the comments were offering prayers for the community, there was a contingent who seemed to take great delight in posting how "stupid" the folks who lost their lives were for being in their homes when the tornado hit.  I saw comments about how they should have left their trailers and gone to Walmart to be safe (ummm, HELLO!  A Walmart was directly hit in Joplin last year and many inside died!) or that they should have gone here or there .  There was the "those people knew ahead of time- it's their own fault they died" group.  It literally made me sick to read the stupidity these people were posting.  It is obvious that the posters have never been through a tornado and that they are just miserable people in general.

On the opposite side, once again it has been proven that community comes together in the face of tragedy.  There have been everything from "cutathons" scheduled for this weekend, to telethons, to local company donating $10,000 in blankets and personal care items to help the folks who had to use a neighboring town's high school as a shelter.  Normal, everyday people rose to the occasion as well.  The Red Cross and the National Guard were organizing getting the donations to the victims and were so overwhelmed with donations of food, clothing, blanket and other items that they had to put a moratorium on everything except donations of food and cash.  What I found to be terrific, and I would estimate that it worked very well, was that the Red Cross wasn't just saying "we need cash donations." and leaving it at that.  Instead, they specifically requested donations of $10.00,  I know that in these tough economic times, if I were having a tough time financially,I would be more apt to answer a donation request of $10.  It gets the message out there that even small donations can make a world of difference.  It also allows you to reach a broader audience than if they had requested $50-$100 or just left it vague.  I know that I have, on occasion, had the feeling that I would like to help out in a situation but I couldn't afford to make a large donation (be it money or hours) and felt like the little I could afford wouldn't make enough of a difference to count.  With this tactic, it opened the doors to those who might feel the way I have.

As I began to notice some of these things I began to wonder; Do these folks (both the good and the bad) knew how the world perceives them?  I will admit to being the first to judge those who used this tragedy for their own personal gain, whether by stealing from the victims or by price gouging since some will have to start over and replace everything. If I were to type what I REALLY think of these people, it would turn the page blue.  On the opposite side of the coin, as I heard of all of the good stories, I just wanted to hug each and every one of them.

I feel that when we have this type of situation, whether it's an enormous storm that literally takes out entire towns, or a house fire or car accident that affects "only" one family, we get an accurate picture of our society.  It also gives us a clear picture of the media and their chosen coverage.  While the number of people who gave in some way, the spotlight lands on those who are using the situation as an opportunity to lie, cheat, steal and scam the victims.  We need to turn that around.  I think I will send letters to my favorite news channel as well as the local papers and express my dissatisfaction.  I don't know about you, but I would  MUCH rather read stories about the people who are out there on the front lines helping with the clean-up and recovery and see the "good" stories than give publicity to people who are out there for self-gain.  


abcsofra said...

I lived through Hurrican Hugo years ago in SC. It is truly a tragedy and these acts of nature strike unexpected and without much warning often. And sometimes the safe haven isn't quite so safe as anticipated. My hearts goes out to all the families, communities, and souls that have been impacted by any act of nature. She can be one tough cookie!

Julie Faulds said...

She is indeed. One only needs to see the crazy way the weather patterns have been the last few years- to see that there just might be quite a bit of basis for the whole "Global Warming" argument.