Thursday, September 1, 2005

The Price of Rising Water

From today's NY Times, an article called "Police and Owners Begin to Challenge Looters" in New Orleans:
Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said she was "furious" about the looting.
"What angers me the most is disasters tend to bring out the best in everybody, and that's what we expected to see," Ms. Blanco said at a news conference. "Instead, it brought out the worst."
All sizes and types of stores, from Wal-Mart to the Rite Aid to the St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop, turned into bazaars of free merchandise.
Some frightened homeowners took security into their own hands.
John Carolan was sitting on his porch in the thick, humid darkness just before midnight Tuesday when three or four young men, one with a knife and another with a machete, stopped in front of his fence and pointed to the generator humming in the front yard, he said.
One said, "We want that generator," he recalled.
"I fired a couple of rounds over their heads with a .357 Magnum," Mr. Carolan recounted Wednesday. "They scattered."
He smiled and added, "You've heard of law west of the Pecos. This is law west of Canal Street."
Though no one excused the stealing, many officials were careful not to depict every looter as a petty thief.
"Had New York been closed off on 9/11, who can say what they would have done?" said Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, vice president of the New Orleans City Council. "When there's no food, no water, no sanitation, who can say what you'd do? People were trying to protect their children. I don't condone lawlessness, but this doesn't represent the generous people of New Orleans."

I feel like the things going on in New Orleans are happening on another planet, or at least not here, not now, in the 21st century. This is like Tombstone or Deadwood, circa 1875. Next thing you know, a modern day Dalton Gang is going to end up on Canal Street, and there is going to be a stand-off between law enforcement and the looters, or "liberators", depending on where you are getting your information.

The sad thing is that there are plenty of people looking only for the basic necessities to get their families: food, clean water, first aid and a clean dry bed. However, an HP DeskJet printer is not going to do that for you. Neither are guns stolen from WalMart (I hope Michael Moore is celebrating the irony), jewelery, cases of Coors Light or large screen televisions. Especially when people are going to be lucky to get power back in two - four MONTHS.

I can only imagine how desperate these people are feeling right now, especially since so many of them have lost everything, all of their material possessions, and are going to end up as refugees in Texas. But rule of law must be restored, order must prevail, if for no other reason than to protect the people who are trying to rescue those still in harm's way.

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