One of the ugliest parts of humanity is how history does, indeed, repeat itself. Here’s a chance to sidestep that.
Just 12 years ago after the Labor Day holiday, the Aurora Sentinel joined a handful of Aurora folks at Buckley Air Force Base to welcome bedraggled and bewildered New Orleans victims of Hurricane Katrina.
For days, the world watched in horror as the rains continued, the water rose, the levees broke and the city submerged. As horrifying as it was to watch the disaster unfold, it was the days and weeks after that were even more gut wrenching. Survivors not only lost friends and family, they lost their homes because they were either destroyed or uninhabitable.
So many people died in or from the hurricane and rains that officials could only estimate the casualties, officially reporting that between 1,245–1,836 people perished from the storm, many after the clouds broke.
Aurora was one of the communities across the country that quickly adopted dozens and dozens of families who no longer had a place in New Orleans to call home. The city quickly drew children into schools, families into homes and parents into jobs.
There’s little doubt that Aurora will soon step up again, making room for southeast Texas residents who will no longer have any reason to call Houston and the surrounding area home.
It was easy to lend a hand at first when the whole world rushed to Louisiana to aid a catastrophe that didn’t seem like it could actually happen in the United States. But soon after, when the scope of devastation became clear and the stunning cost of putting New Orleans back together became overwhelming, support dwindled and the blame game took over.
“Why do those people live in a place prone to disaster?” “Why should the entire country pay for losses suffered by people and businesses who didn’t have insurance?” “Why should the country pay for communities that won’t pay the cost of improving their own infrastructure to mitigate damage from these inevitable disasters?”
They’re good questions that don’t matter when people have nowhere to live.
One of the most shocking and repugnant episodes of American history occurred when Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and others led a charge to hold up desperately needed relief to Hurricane Sandy victims, claiming there was massive “pork” in a huge relief package that Cruz never voted for.
It was contemptible.
No doubt Cruz will find no pork in an upcoming massive relief bill to put southeast Texas back together. No doubt Cruz will be the target of another hurricane of well-deserved scorn. It’s important that we ensure that Cruz suffers what he has coming, but not Texans. South of Austin, tens of thousands of Americans will be faced with financial ruin and total loss. Rather than worry that somebody is going to get something for free, or that a Texan who failed to get insurance will unfairly benefit, we have to treat Texas like we would treat ourselves, our own family and our own friends. We need to be generous and patient, because we can.
It doesn’t mean that Congress and states shouldn’t begin requiring disaster-prone communities to step up flood prevention, fire prevention, and earthquake mitigation programs, it means that’s not what thousands of hurricane victims need right now, and it’s not what they’ll need in several weeks or months when America’s good will grows thin.
It’s important that each of us personally give what we can to help others that could easily be one of us. More importantly, it’s important that we don’t punish fellow Americans in need for political spite or for any circumstances that can’t possibly outweigh the tragedy of losing everything that all of us take for granted and depend on so much.
Texas needs Aurora just as much as we need to ensure their recovery.
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