Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Letter to the Editor

Bill O'Reilly wrote a column that made me so mad!! I am so fired up I had to write a letter to the editor. I doubt it will get published (it exceeds their suggested 200 words... by a lot) but here it is:

I am writing in reference to Bill O’Reilly’s article published Saturday, November 03, 2012 with the title “Major Lesson of Sandy: self-reliance, not government”. While Mr. O’Reilly makes two good points early in his article, and in spite of having lived through it, he fails to understand completely the full impact of a storm like Sandy. His two points: “First: no government agency can help you when disaster strikes. Any assistance will be after the fact…”. Well, yes, first responders should not risk their own lives to go out in a storm and we can’t expect them to. If the worst happens during the height of a disaster, unfortunately we are on our own. “Second: In order to ride out any storm effectively you should be self-reliant and resilient. That means you have to anticipate problems and have some solutions at the ready.” On the surface, that is a good lesson to learn.

But Mr. O’Reilly continues, and this is where he loses me. It seems the worst he suffered during Sandy was a loss of power and a malfunctioning generator. He was able to get it fixed because he had connections and continued blithely on his self-congratulatory way. He did not mention any damage to his home or car. He did not mention any other difficulties he is facing in the aftermath other than losing power. So now he’s an expert and proceeds to inform us all that we each should be just as self-reliant as he is. We should all have generators and people we can call at a moment’s notice to fix them if they break, like he does, and we should never expect the government to help us in any way.

Is the man totally blind? Is he completely insulated from what is happening around him? Entire neighborhoods have washed away. Homes and businesses have been lost. All the preparation in the world is no use if your house is gone, your neighborhood is gone, your car has been totaled, your generator has blown away, all of your supplies have been buried in the rubble, your business is wiped out, and all you have left is the shirt on your back. I’m prepared for hurricanes; I have food reserves, (which I donate when the season is over) I keep my car gassed up during hurricane season, I have storm shutters, and I have a generator, but I also understand that all of that can be gone in an instant if “The Big One” hits. A big one like Andrew, for instance.

I lived through Andrew. My parents lost their home but were fortunate enough to have relatives to take them in. Their cars were fine so they were able to get to that relative’s home, then to work. My mother was a nurse and my step-father was a telephone company employee so they had jobs after the storm. They were able to rebuild but are forever scarred from dealing with the trauma of losing so much, and they were better off than a lot of people. They didn’t have to rely on the government because they had a safety net in the form of family. They had insurance that paid their claim; they were lucky. So many lost so much more.

So I prepare for hurricanes; how can I not after Andrew? I do it with the understanding that it is my responsibility to be self sufficient, like Mr. O’Reilly talks about, as much as I possibly can. I can look after myself and my family if I only lose power, like Mr. O’Reilly, and I won’t be a drain on precious resources needed elsewhere. But I also know that if I lose everything, my neighbors lose everything, and my safety nets are all blown away, I can look to FEMA and organizations like the Red Cross for a helping hand as I try to put my life back together. That comfort is priceless beyond words.

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