Category Archives: natural disasters

Massive Tornado: Pray and Do Something to Help the People of Oklahoma

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This week has been a rough week for many locales in the Midwest with serve weather and an outbreak of tornados. Ground zero for many of these storms has been the State of Oklahoma, the center of we call “Tornado Ally” and today that state, particularly the suburban communities around Oklahoma City were devastated by what might be one of the most powerful tornados ever to hit an American city. Ground zero was the city of Moore Oklahoma, no stranger to such weather having been hit by major tornados in 1998, 1999 and 2004. Today’s tornado is estimated to be at least an EF-4 with winds of 160 miles an hour and some estimate that it could be an EF-5, the strongest category of tornado with winds of 200 miles an hour cutting a swath of destruction a mile wide at the base of the tornado and a path 20 miles long. It was on the ground about minutes hitting its crescendo as hit struck Moore. Whole neighborhoods are destroyed with only driveways and foundations remaining.

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See the time lapse video on NBC News: http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbc-news/51945473/#51945473

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The casualties continue to mount. At least 51 are known dead and hundreds injured at the present time and the toll is certain to mount. The areas hit included residential areas as well as schools and hospitals. Two schools received direct hits and one of those schools has reported that students were killed. The major hospital in the city was destroyed and now unable to operate. First responders in many cases are often victims themselves and quite possibly will return to their homes and find that they no longer exist. Lives destroyed and disrupted and property destroyed or severely damaged.  The people in Oklahoma are incredibly resilient and tough but they will need help from other Americans, both through the Federal and State Governments but also from various relief agencies such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army Disaster Services and other agencies who are trained and equipped to give aid.

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This happened to our fellow citizens, Americans. These are American citizens just as other Americans were impacted by Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, the city of Joplin Missouri destroyed by a tornado much like the one that hit Oklahoma today. In other places in this country whole areas have been devastated by flooding along the Mississippi, Red  and Missouri Rivers, and earthquakes like the one that hit the San Francisco Bay area in 1989.

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I have been through tornados, major hurricanes and severe earthquakes. I have provided emergency assistance directing an emergency shelter for a hurricane and post disaster counseling to staff members of a school destroyed by a tornado. All things being equal I would rather go through an earthquake or hurricane any day of the week before I ever want to go through another tornado. There is something unearthly in the way they wreak devastation, almost a terrible randomness as to where they hit and what survives and does not.

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Please pray for those affected and do what you can to help. To do so through the Red Cross either go to their website www.redcross.org or text REDCROSS 90999. To do so through the Salvation Army go to their website https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/uss/eds/aok or text “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone; to confirm your gift, respond with the word “Yes.” A state religious group, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma is also providing relief services and those that want to donate to them can do so through their website at http://www.bgco.org/ministries/disaster-relief/donate-to-disaster-relief

Of course there are other ways to give but those are the first that came to my mind and ones that I believe will be able to respond quickly.

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Please, these are Americans. I know that last year when Sandy hit the East Coast that some pundits and politicians did what they could to obstruct aid to the affected areas citing their “principles.” However to me it doesn’t matter if an American is a Republican or Democrat, if a State is a “Red State” or a “Blue State” but rather that they are Americans and that as Americans we are either in this together or we are not. As a Christian I cannot simply say that person is not my neighbor because they do not vote like me, share my faith or live in a different part of the country. They are my neighbors and if you are an American they are yours. Please do what you can to help through private means and encourage your representatives to speed Federal assistance to the people of Oklahoma and other areas hit by these terrible storms.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Madness, Evil, Disaster, Haste and Uncertainty: Poison, Bombs, Fire and Reckless Reporting Shape A Strange and Tragic Week

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“Truth is confirmed by inspection and delay; falsehood by haste and uncertainty.”  Tacitus

It was a strange and surreal day and week. It was a day where people sought answers but only found more questions. Questions about evil, madness and of accidental disaster. Questions ultimately about truth and responsibility.

Madness?

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Today the FBI announced the apprehension of an Elvis impersonator named Paul Kevin Curtis in relation to a number of letters containing the deadly poison Ricin to Mississippi Republican Senator Roger Wicker, President Obama and a judge in Mississippi. According to his family Curtis had a long history of mental illness, specifically that he is diagnosed as Bi-Polar. Evidently he was quite a talented entertainer and had been a finalist in a number of Elvis impersonation contests in Las Vegas. Senator Wicker said that he has met Curtis and had once hired Curtis to perform at a party. Wicker noted that Curtis “was very entertaining.”

Disaster

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Meanwhile in the small town of West, Texas near Waco emergency crews and citizens were sifting through the rubble of a fertilizer storage facility, homes, apartment buildings and a nursing home. Yesterday evening a fire broke out at the facility triggering a massive explosion that registered 2.1 on the Richter Scale, was felt 70 miles away. Casualty figures are still unclear. The town’s mayor is reporting tonight that as many as 35 people, 10 being fire fighters and other first responders died in the blast and that about 160 were injured. The town is devastated, large areas are destroyed or heavily damaged. Governor Rick Perry has asked President Obama to declare the county a disaster area.

Evil

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In Boston, as the city mourned and people gathered at an ecumenical prayer service in memory of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing the FBI released pictures and video of the two suspects in the case. The FBI as well as city and state officials have asked citizens for their help in identifying the men who are believed responsible for the killing of three people and the wounding of more than 170 others.

Haste and Uncertainty

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Hasty and False Accusations

In all of these events there is an underlying element of uncertainty that unsettles people, and not only those directly affected but those who are exposed to them even from afar. In the midst of the unfolding tragedies people have a need for answers. After all such events, especially coming so closely on the heels of one another are unsettling and bring about in some the desire to find an answer immediately, to act with haste and recklessness to find an answer.

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Ricin Letter

Unfortunately haste and reckless attempts to find answers usually compound already tragic situations which could still be open ended. That may not be the case in the situation of Mr Curtis who has been taken into custody and linked directly to the poisoned letters. But let us suppose for a moment that even a mentally ill man could be falsely accused, or that he could have been working with others who are still on the loose. This does not appear to be the case, but there are many instances where people have been falsely accused.

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In the case of the explosion in Texas things appear to point to an accidental fire which spread and set off a massive explosion. Of course that is the presumption but even here officials have to rule out an act of malfeasance or criminality, even as they continue recovery efforts and the search for victims. The fact that the area was a storage area for the volatile Ammonium Nitrate, the same substance used by Timothy McVeigh to destroy the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

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Murrah Federal Building and Timothy McVeigh

In a bizarre twist of irony the worst industrial accident ever, the Texas City disaster of April 16th 1947.  On that day an explosion of Ammonium Nitrate being loaded onto a ship killed over 600 people and injured another 5000. Several ships were sunk, the port destroyed and hundreds of homes and businesses devastated.

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Texas City Disaster

The sad thing is that while the West disaster is probably not a criminal act, it was something that might have been preventable had any outside safety regulations or inspection regime been in place. The last Federal safety inspection of the plant took place 28 years ago. The plant was cited and fined in 2006 for not having a risk management plan in place, despite the presence of an elementary school a very short distance away. The management self reported that risk was minimal.

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Finally in the case of the Boston Marathon bombing many people and some media outlets rushed to judgement before the FBI and other law enforcement agencies that are part of the Joint Task Force investigating released its pictures and videos. The New York Post misidentified two young men, one a high school student as suspects on its front page. Numerous bloggers and others posted photos of people in many cases calling them suspects or even guilt parties based on their very limited powers of observation and more than limited knowledge of the event, area and circumstances of the attack. The Post and those others have caused great distress in the lives of innocent people by acting in haste and rushing to judgement. It should be noted that neither the Post or any blogger has apologized to the people that they have falsely accused who are not considered suspects by law enforcement.

I think as I watched the coverage of all of these events this week and looked back at other terrorist attacks and industrial disasters that have taken place in my lifetime I was struck by how surreal they all appeared, especially since they happened in such a short period of time. When one adds in other events such as the continued tensions in North Korea surrounding its nuclear program and ongoing threats to South Korea, Japan and the United States.

It is a strange time, but if we are to find the truth in all of these cases we have to be careful not to jump to conclusions. History shows time and time again how when people and nations rush to judgement that many times much greater tragedy unfolds.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Ecumenical Jihadists and Hurricane Sandy: At Last Something that Christian, Moslem and Jewish Extremists can Agree On

While much of New York, New Jersey and West Virginia struggle under the effects of the damage of Hurricane Sandy and millions of people are either homeless, without power or transportation there are those that know why this happened. Close to 60 million Americans have been affected as well as people in Jamaica and Cuba.

While men like President Obama and Governor Chris Christie, elected officials from opposite sides of our partisan chasm work together to coordinate the assistance needed for the millions of people now homeless or without power there are some people that know why this happened.   I don’t know about you but I was impressed by how well Governor Christie and President Obama laid aside the partisanship and worked together to fulfill their respective Oath’s of Office and responsibility to the people that they were elected to serve. That is how real leaders deal with crisis, be it natural or manmade disasters, economic crisis or something like war.

However there are people out there that do not agree. To them the current crisis has nothing to do with global warming or climate change. No it has nothing to do with the fact that like most major metropolitan regions worldwide New York and New Jersey are maritime areas, what we in the Navy like to call the littorals. Over 70% of the worlds population lives on the littorals. The major trade, banking and industrial cities of the world, those on which the world economy depends sit alongside the oceans of the world.

No, geography, economics, or climatology have no answers. After all scientists are stupid political hacks dependent on the government who don’t believe in God anyway. According to those that really know the facts, you know, people that say that God talks to them and reveals things to them that non-believers don’t understand the issue is secular America, gays and abortion. In fact there is a broad ecumenical agreement among religious fundamentalists, Christians, Moslems and Jews that is almost taking a perverse Schadenfreude, or joy in the sufferings of others going on whenever a natural disaster occurs.

Yes my friends there are Christian ministers in the United States, Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Rabbis and Moslem Imams and Mullahs are all chiming in, all citing their Scriptures and their dark understanding of a God who hates his creation. Just google “Hurricane Sandy  God’s judgement” or “Katrina and God’s Judgement” or whatever disaster you want to name with “God’s judgement” and see what pops up. You’ll be surprised at the perverse joy that some religious people take in the sufferings of those that they believe to be God’s enemies.

The sad thing is that many of the people suffering are Christians, Jews and Moslems, which kind of makes me wonder about the people writing the screeds that say that God judging these people. I wonder if the shoe was on the other foot what they would be saying.

It is really amazing to me to see the amount of Ecumenical Jihad that a natural disaster inspires among the faithful. One would think that such zealots wouldn’t be able to agree about anything but but they are surprisingly in agreement when it comes to death and destruction of the people that they deem to be heretics, unbelievers or infidels. At least a leading Saudi Cleric has condemned the Moslem extremists comments but I don’t see many big name Christian leaders condemning the nutty and hateful views of Christians. Maybe it is just that they are too busy doing partisan campaigning for political candidates in states that are not affected by the storm to be bothered with caring about people in states that won’t vote for their candidate anyway. But then maybe I’m wrong and just have become cynical.

I wish that was so. However there is a reason that many if not most mainline Evangelical leaders won’t criticize the nut cases. That is because in their hearts many agree with them and actually say similar things year round and have said them for years but are smart enough not to say it during the storm because it might cut down on donations to their ministries, their market share in Christian broadcasting or their political influence before an election that they have gone all in for one party. Likewise almost all of the leaders of these ministries are have their headquarters in places far from any real danger of natural disaster other than blizzards, thunderstorms and tornados or drought. I hate to say but having lived through all of those disasters plus major hurricanes, floods and earthquakes I can say that those a child’s play compared to events such as Hurricane Sandy, Katrina, the Japanese Tsunami or a massive earthquake.

I don’t know about you but I have a hard time with those that decide that somehow they know all that is in God’s heart and are quite willing to throw other people that don’t believe like them under the wheels of their God’s bus. Well, c’est la vie.

Please pray and act to help the people in need. There is plenty of work to do and needs to be met. I posted information last night on how to give to the Red Cross and Salvation Army relief efforts. Those links are provided here again:

http://www.redcross.org/support

http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn_2.nsf

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Aftermath: Sandy Spreads Destruction along East Coast

Destruction in Atlantic City NJ

Sandy is still bringing destruction to much of the Northeast and the damage to areas affected is still being assessed. As of this evening close to 8 million Americans are without power, many more now homeless and much property and infrastructure is destroyed. At least 50 people are known dead in the United States. Over 16,000 airline flights have been cancelled leaving people stranded not just in New York and the Northeast but around the world. Estimates of the damage are just beginning but the costs to Americans could be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Tens of millions of lives have been affected by the storm. The fact that some of the most high density populations and vulnerable populations in the country and the seat of corporate America  will make Sandy one of the most destructive and expensive storms ever to hit the United States.

Massive flooding, devastation, power outages and millions of people cut off from transportation and communications. Subways, airports, ports and tunnels are flooded, water and sewage systems are heavily damaged and millions of people are at risk and winter is coming.  The area hit is the most populous in the country and what happens there affects all of us.

Less affected states are sending help to New York and New Jersey which have been the hardest hit areas.

La Guardia Airport

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has impressed me. His words to those that want to make this a political carnival were something that I admire. I don’t always agree with Governor Christie but the man is real. Christie has been one of the most aggressive Romney surrogates in the past few weeks and was the keynote speaker at the RNC. However, unlike some he is not simply a political hack. He actually seems to care about the people of his state and recognizes the necessity of Federal Government assistance. Likewise he seems to be able to separate political expediency for real life real time honesty. When interviewed by Fox and Friends host Steve Doocey this morning Christie was in rare form.

It started when Steve Doocy said, “Over the last couple of months, you have appeared throughout the country, Governor, on behalf of Mitt Romney… (W)e hear that perhaps Mr. Romney may do some storm-related events. Is there any possibility that Gov. Romney may go to New Jersey to tour some of the damage with you?”

Christie answered: “ have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics and I could care less about any of that stuff. I have a job to do. I’ve got 2.4 million people out of power. I’ve got devastation on the shore. I’ve got floods in the northern part of my state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics then you don’t know me.”

First responders have done heroic things and the overwhelmed cities and states have requested Federal assistance, assistance that some on the political right say is either unnecessary, not the responsibility of the Federal Government or “better done by the private sector” are loathe to support, unless the disaster occurs in their neighborhood.  President Obama commented Monday when asked about how Sandy might impact the election:  “The election will take care of itself next week.  Right now, our number-one priority is to make sure that we are saving lives, that our search-and-rescue teams are going to be in place, that people are going to get the food, the water, the shelter that they need in case of emergency, and that we respond as quickly as possible to get the economy back on track.”

Obama will meet with Governor Christie in Newark Wednesday. The two leaders will see the destruction and work together to help the people that need help. That is what America is about.

This is massive damage and will be take a long term effort to recover. This is an American disaster, it affects us all in some way. The most affected are those directly impacted by the storm but if we do not act together it is a storm that could cripple the nation as much of our economy and commerce is centered in the epicenter of where Sandy hit so hard. It requires that Americans band together to help other Americans. It requires that we as a people finally stop the political fratricide and actually become Americans again.

Pray and help as you can. One can donate to the American Red Cross through this link:

http://www.redcross.org/support

The Salvation Army Disaster relief link for Hurricane Sandy donations is here: http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn_2.nsf

There are other groups that provide help and support as well, but those are two that I have donated to in the past and will do so again.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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A Massive and Deadly “Freak” Storm: Sandy Hits the USA

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I have been through quite a few hurricanes in my life and Sandy was just a glancing blow for us in North Carolina. My wife in Virginia Beach Virginia says that for once due to the storm sewers being cleaned out recently that our neighborhood is not flooded. However I have a lot of friends in the Northeast in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Maryland and DC who are being hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.

Lower Manhattan flooding (top) and Atlantic City NJ Boardwalk 

Sandy came ashore this evening making a direct hit on the coast of New Jersey. The storm is setting records. It is the most powerful Hurricane to go this far north since the Long Island Express of 1938. The barometric pressure is quite low, 947 millibars as it came ashore, and lower than that this morning. In size it is immense nearly 1000 miles in diameter affecting most of the East Coast from the Carolinas north. Storm surge is setting records and many cities along the coast are flooding.

 

 

 

Hoboken NJ PATH station (top) and Randolph County West Virginia 

The human and economic impacts will be enormous. Power has gone out for millions and it is expected that 10-20 million people could be without power for some time. Reports are that the subways of New York are beginning to flood. There is a danger that other infrastructure damage, including damage to banking and financial institutions could extend the suffering for a prolonged period of time and to people not in the path of the storm. The fact that Sandy has combined with a winter storm has made it much worse. The storm is causing blizzards in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. This is a major disaster in the making.

The Tomb of the Unkowns

First responders as always will take a good share of the initial hit from the storm, but it will be up to others at the State and Federal level as well as NGOs and individuals to respond. As of now National Guard Units and elements the Active Duty Forces under the the Command of USNORTHCOM and FEMA are preparing to move to assist. However, the effects of the storm damage will take the efforts of all of us to get through.

The Point Emerald Island North Carolina

For those who have never been a first responder or have been impacted by a massive natural disaster that overwhelms local and state agencies this may be a foreign concept. However having been a first responder who has also dealt with the theoretical aspects of disaster response in military and FEMA courses I know that within 24-36 hours most local first responders and agencies are spend rounds, they are as much victims as the people that they try to assist.

Katrina victims

As Americans our lives and livelihoods are so closely intertwined with each other and what happens in different parts of the country and world it is impossible for a single State or region to bear the brunt of such disasters as Katrina or Sandy by themselves. The response must go beyond attempts to capitalize on the disaster for political purposes to actually being a nation again. The people being affected by Sandy are not strangers. They are friends, family and fellow Americans.

For the moment the Presidential campaigns have ceased campaigning, although pundits and political flacks on both sides of our political chasm are still acting as if Sandy is simply another political event. Personally I think that people like that have lost something of their humanity. This is not about a political agenda, it is about our friends, family and fellow Americans being slammed with a natural disaster that we have not seen the likes of in years.

I have friends in all the sates affected. They span the political and religious spectrum and all are in harms way tonight and in the next few days and all stand the chance of losing life, home or health as a result of this storm.

 

Please pray for these people, our families, friends, neighbors and fellow Americans during this time.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Praying for the Gulf: Hurricane Isaac Channels the Ghost of Katrina

Hurricane Katrina was a devastating event. The hurricane nearly came ashore as a category 5 hurricane, weakening at the last minute before coming ashore in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Even so the storm had major and long lasting effects. Over 1800 people lost their lives and property damage exceeded $81 billion. Parts of New Orleans still remain an uninhabited ghost town. It is etched in the psyche of the inhabitants of the Gulf Coast and the nation. Whenever a storm forms in the Gulf of Mexico it brings back those terrible memories of August 2005 when death came to New Orleans in the form of Katrina. The ghosts of Katrina still remain and Hurricane Isaac has channeled those ghosts.

Katrina

In 2005 I was serving as the Chaplain for the Marine Security Forces in Norfolk. I preparing to fly to New Orleans for a conference on Sexual Assault and Prevention. I was watching the weather closely and as Hurricane Katrina tracked toward New Orleans and grew stronger I got word that the conference had been postponed. I was disappointed because I was looking forward to the conference, meeting some colleagues that I had not seen and had planned to see a Minor League ballgame when in town.

My disappointment rapidly shifted to concern about the areas of New Orleans and Gulfport Mississippi. Initially I wasn’t too concerned but watched in horror as the storm strengthened. I was thinking hard about the Navy in Gulfport where I had talked the detailer out of sending me in to be the junior chaplain in the base chapel 2003 because I wanted to remain operational. Had I meekly agreed to the detailer we would have been directly in the path of Katrina’s track.

To watch the disaster unfold was frightening. To see people suffering and the breakdown in civil order as the city was inundated was frightening. Emergency response was woefully insufficient, public order completely broke down as levees failed and local response providers became victims themselves. The Super Dome was a prime evacuation center but it was hit hard, supplies we short and the attempt to provide shelter to the poor who could not evacuate a disaster. State, Local and Federal responses were poorly coordinated and executed.  I some ways New Orleans will never completely recover from Katrina.

It appears Isaac is tracking to New Orleans and Gulfport.  If it continues its path and the models are correct the effects should be nothing like Katrina although massive rainfall and storm surge could create some chaos. Thankfully some dry air is keeping Isaac from gaining too much momentum however Katrina surprised many by gaining a huge amount of power in a very short time.

Local, State and Federal government agencies are on alert, the National Guard has been activated in some areas and evacuations of coastal areas have been going on for a couple of days.

Isaac will have economic impacts beyond any life or property damage due to the storm but, hopefully only short term. Oil drilling and production facilities will be shut down for several days even if they sustain no or little damage and gas prices are moving up. Oil platforms have been strengthened since Katrina but all it takes as one platform to fail to create an ecological disaster.

Isaac has delayed the Republican National Convention in Tampa which was very much in the target zone just a few days ago. Anyone who has ever been to Tampa knows the danger if a storm was to hit it. There have been studies one of which, Project Phoenix http://www.tbrpc.org/tampabaycatplan/pdf/Project_Phoenix_Scenario_Info.pdf  which analyzes the effects of a worst case scenario. In 1921 Tampa was hit by a category 4 storm that did great damage to Tampa and St Petersburg which were then much smaller metropolitan areas.

Damage from the 1921 Tampa Bay Hurricane

While Tampa should suffer little from Isaac, the city was right to take preparations and the GOP leadership was right to delay the start of the convention. Since hurricanes often make unexpected moves and sometimes strengthen in ways not expected they could not take that chance. That being said if Isaac hits New Orleans hard it could put a damper on media coverage of the convention. After all in our society natural disasters and human tragedies always get more coverage than political rallies.

I have been through about 6 or 7 hurricanes or tropical storms in North Carolina and Virginia and another in Okinawa. I have rode out hurricanes and Indian Ocean cyclones at sea. they are not to be taken lightly. Last year I experienced Hurricane Irene which was a very large slow moving category one storm which did enough damage in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania to be classed as one of the top ten natural disasters in the history of the country.

So I pray for all of those in the path of Isaac tonight and in the coming days as the storm hits the Gulf Coast and then moves inland.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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One Nation: Natural Disasters Show How we Swim Together or Sink Alone

“In our personal ambitions we are individualists. But in our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we all go up or else all go down as one people.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

I am amazed when I see the Unholy Trinity of Pundits, Politicians and Preachers declare that when disaster strikes one part of the country or another that the Federal Government which represents all of us has moral or constitutional right to provide assistance to the stricken region.  The latest is the  unprecedented drought in Texas which has turned the state into a tinder-box that is now going up in flames.  It seems that in our now poisonous political climate the some have even used natural disasters to indicate their belief that God is either sending a message or judging the country.

We have allowed our political leaders, pundits and politically minded preachers of the political Left and Right to lead us to the precipice of calamity as they use fear and loathing to deepen the division of Americans for their fellow Americans.  They have been wildly successful in their efforts and we all are paying the price for their hubris.

We have seen the wealth of the nation squandered by government as well as the great financial houses and multi-national corporations that for all practical purposes own the government.  Dwight Eisenhower warned us of the danger of the “military-industrial complex” but I think that the “banking-financial complex” is far more dangerous because it is far more insidiously enmeshed in every aspect of our lives as individuals and as a nation.  As a result we are in dire financial straits that some say are so great that we can no longer help one another and those individual regions afflicted with disasters beyond their ability to respond to protect life, property, critical infrastructure and even business interests will have to get through disaster on their own, without assistance.

In the past couple of years we have seen many natural disasters compounded by a crippled economy devastate the lives of Americans or all political philosophies, faiths, regions and socio-economic classes.   In times past these disasters would have brought us together.  It would not matter if the disaster was an earthquake in California, floods in the agricultural heartlands of the Midwest, hurricanes along the Atlantic or Gulf coasts, wildfires that lay waste to lives and property in the Southwest or drought in various parts of the country, we used to be moved to provide every bit of assistance that could help.  Assistance provided by individuals, churches, relief organizations, local and State governments and the Federal Government.  But now because we are in deep financial constraints we see some politicians, pundits and preachers on the political right who make their living hating government are for practical purposes saying that we should leave our countrymen and women to their own devices even when overwhelmed by events that they cannot control and do not have the means to respond.

We that is the case until their neighbors are endangered or devastated, unless you are House Majority Whip Eric Cantor who told the residents of Mineral Virginia and the surrounding area that assistance would have to be matched by corresponding cuts when they were struck by the largest earthquake the region had seen since 1897 when a 5.8-6.0 temblor hit Pearisburg Virginia.  We saw Ron Paul openly state that the Federal Government had no business in responding to the ravages of hurricane Irene which killed about 40 people and caused an estimated 7-10 billion dollars in damage from North Carolina to New England which places it in the top 10 hurricanes in terms of insurance losses.  This is while some pundits mocked the areas affected by gloating about how Irene weakened before coming ashore and about the “over-reaction” the Federal, State and Local governments concerned with the effect of the storm on their citizens.  Of course the same people deriding the “over-reaction” would be the first to use a lack of action or poor preparation and response against the very leaders that they deride for doing too much.

However the truth is that we do need each other and are interdependent on each other as states, regions and individuals in ways that our ancestors never were.  It is impossible to turn back the clock as hat happens in one region does affect the rest of us.  When agricultural regions are flooded, dried up by unending drought or winter weather the cost of food goes up, when a hurricane shuts down oil production in the Gulf of Mexico the price of gas and heating oil goes up, when a tsunami strikes Japan automobile factories in the U.S. have to shut down for lack of key components and the cost of cars goes up because supply goes down.  The list can go on and on and on and if we do not begin to think of ourselves as one nation instead of a collection of “Red States and Blue States” we will see this grand experiment go down in flames.

The time for political, social and economic fratricide is over; we cannot endure long if we continue down this self destructive path.  The multiple crises that we face demand that we come together to solve them.  As President John F. Kennedy said, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.  Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

Peace

Padre Steve+

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