I was listening to CNN just now, and Mayor Nagin of New Orleans seemed relieved to have the assistance of Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who is overseeing the deployment of military troops in the region. Nagin's desperate SOS was the most heart-wrenching and pathetic cry I imagine I could ever hear from a mayor of an American city. [LISTEN]
I was pleased by the President's talk to the nation this morning. It's high time that President Bush used his great power, speaking out and criticizing his own team's delay - and finally getting this relief effort off the ground. People have been suffering and dying for five days now. They are struggling to survive while I hear too many people judging the suffering souls in New Orleans rather than rallying for their immediate assistance. This is a time for all of us to step up to the plate and do everything within our personal power to help.
News stories about looting and rape have triggered the usual prejudices and fears in the greater public and have not done a great public service to the people of New Orleans who have been left behind. New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are not filled with violent dark-skinned criminals and rapists as portrayed by all too many newscasts and blog reports. These are Americans in dire need.
I wish Lt Gen Honore and all those helping the desparate people left behind in New Orleans the best of luck, and every American should give everything they can spare to organizations like the Red Cross. MoveOn.org just launched a website, Hurricane Housing, to connect your empty beds with hurricane victims who desperately need a place to wait out the storm. You can post your offer of housing (a spare room, extra bed, even a decent couch) on Hurricane Housing or search there for housing if you need it.
Help is on the way. The Army Corps of Engineers said yesterday that it had taken the first steps toward plugging three breaches in the levee system that allowed water from Lake Pontchartrain to pour into New Orleans in the wake of Katrina. The American Red Cross has mobilized thousands of volunteers. The Red Cross plans to send close to 2,000 volunteers in the area to begin the initial response in the next few days.
I regret that many in the blogosphere are concentrating more on being at one another's throats, in a political sense, than rallying fellow Americans to help those people in New Orleans and all along the Gulf Coast.
If you want to read a blog from an American who I believe has his heart in the right place, read David Beckwith's post here and his diary at Daily Kos.
All my prayers go out to the people who have suffered and died as a result of this terrible tragedy.