It's always tough for people facing evacuations. Everything they have may be gone, and they can only wait and hope and pray. And then wait some more.
And the evacuations now under way in southern California are no different. I hope that the people affected are able to return home soon, and that those who in fact have lost their homes are able to begin rebuiliding very quickly.
Nevertheless, it does give me cause to ponder, especially when I see stories about the thousands now packed into Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Not that I am suggesting that they shouldn't get the attention they now are getting, with rock-and-roll bands providing free entertainment, gourmet foods being served on buffet lines and even massage therapists providing 'stress-release' service for evacuees. And I think that all of this is wonderful. I am glad that they are getting all this service.
However it is hard not to compare the way these people are getting along with the complete lack of attention and deplorable conditions that reigned in the New Orleans Superdome, and later at the Houston Astrodome, two years ago after Katrina. Former first lady Barbara Bush (and the mother of the current President) even visited the Astrodome and said of the Katrina evacuees who were then occupying stadium seats there
Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them.
She said this, and then giggled.
Well, now we know where George W. Bush gets his ideas about 'compassionate conservatism' from.
I wonder if the reason why the Katrina evacuees were treated so much worse is that unlike the evacuees in Southern California, they were mostly poor, black and while some owned homes they weren't even close in value to the million dollar houses that are now exploding in flames all over Southern California.
As I said at the outset, the purpose of this post is not to question any of the attention being given to the current evacuees. I certainly feel lucky not to be in any of their shoes today. And the response of government officials at all levels in the current situation has been very good. But it is to question whether a person's economic status and possibly race is directly related to how high a priority they are when it comes to helping them in their time of need.