Body & Spirit
A Call to Arms
by Bess W. Metcalf
You may not want to read this. I suggest that it is vitally in
your interest to do so. In my teens, while the horrors of WWII were still fresh
in peoples' minds and Russia was rattling sabers, we practiced hiding under
desks at school and covering our eyes, in case of a nuclear attack. This futile
exercise distracted the population into thinking they were doing something
useful, while traumatizing countless youngsters. Many families, with justified
skepticism of government efforts and enough money to do so, built underground
shelters complete with food, water and sanitary facilities. Others rationalized
that the world the survivors eventually faced would be so horrible, it was
better to die quickly.
Non-New Yorkers are beginning to protect their sense of security
by relegating the totally unthinkable Twin Towers collapse to a status of a grim
fairy tale; did it really happen? Or was it just an imaginary monster in the
closet? Doesn't it now seem unreal to you?
Officials say the delay in aid was due to the unexpected breach
of the levees in New Orleans. Where were the breached levees when aid to
South Dade County after Hurricane Andrew took up to ten days in some areas?
The problem then and now is that we have no plans, because every disaster is
"unexpected, unthinkable, unbelievable, unprecedented.. excuse, excuse....."
One benefit AND curse of reading a great deal of history,
archaeology, etc. is that one is left with no sense of safety. Those who
prefer to think you're ok, I'm ok, God will protect us, etc. have sat by while
the so-called Homeland Security officials twiddled their thumbs. What has
been accomplished by the government's disaster planning? Zilch. God
forbid that it should have been a small dirty bomb or a biological attack
instead of a hurricane.
The excuse is that no one ever expected such an "unprecedented
disaster". Wrong! Indian Ocean tsunami. Twin Towers and
attack on the Pentagon. Frequent famine and massacres in Africa and
Asia that kill hundreds of thousands in "ethnic cleansing". Earthquakes.
Krakatoa. The San Francisco earthquake and fire a century ago, and
Galveston's hurricane, probably worse than New Orleans' Katrina. New
Orleans has been below sea level for years; hurricanes always happen; levees and
dams are never 100% secure. How could they NOT expect this disaster sooner
or later? They did. Protection was possible and planned, and the
Federal Government refused to fund it. The cost was a fraction of what
this disaster will cost us all now. They - and we the citizens - closed
I will not frighten readers with much worse natural and human
disasters that WILL happen, sooner or later, some in our lifetime.
Just take my word for it; they exist and many, historically, are overdue.
Therefore I'm encouraging you to send the page
Call to Arms
to everyone you know; to individuals (never
underestimate the power of the "masses" of single persons), to the media, to
organizations and to your government officials at every level. Then don't
forget - follow up. Hound your officials for status updates. Don't
1. President, bring home our National Guard security forces
immediately! They were not meant to fight a small war with a bitsy
country that poses no present danger to us. That's the military's job.
National Guard was formed to protect our country on home ground.
2. Demand that Homeland Security immediately, within the year, coordinate an
all-out effort with every state and all larger city governments for a "worst
case" response plan, including:
- How to provide immediate water and food during an emergency in every
major city (plus surrounding towns and countryside)
- How to evacuate an entire city in 24 to 48 hours, in case of biological,
nuclear or natural disaster attack
- Where to provide shelters, food and other necessities for these evacuees
- How to protect on a priority basis medical and food storage facilities
in case of major disaster
- Call on citizens, companies and local governments to form brainstorming
committees to explore possible ways to implement these requirements.
- Provide for emergency funding for these efforts when they are required.
- Plan to organize a volunteer organization of citizens to work with
government agencies; those with skills to take decisive action in case of
disaster, similar to the organization that existed in Great Britain, block
by block, community by community, during WWII
3. Remove entirely our dependence on outside energy sources. Yes, it IS
possible. We are the richest, most inventive country in the world, and we
are letting oil, gas and coal companies manipulate our future, our security and
our health, while the wealthy few in various industries laugh all the way to the
bank. How many people knew that most of our petroleum was offloaded ONLY
at one port, and processed nearby? I did, and expected a terrorist attack
there for some time.
4. Provide tax incentives for the general population, in an ongoing basis, for
purchasing low-energy use vehicles, appliances and industrial equipment.
Also for energy efficient homes, added insulation, wind resistant windows and
doors, hurricane shutters, solar panels, and shade trees.
5. Provide tax incentives to builders AND consumers for houses built to resist
hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. Am I being naive? Nope.
Habitat for Humanity built sprayed concrete homes throughout South Dade that had
NO DAMAGE during Hurricane Andrew, while those around them were reduced to
rubble. This includes building homes at higher elevations (yes, even in
New Orleans); they already require that in the Florida Keys. The old
"Florida Crackers" built their houses on stilts or pilings almost a century ago,
and hundreds of thousands (including ours) are still there after multiple
We must see an immediate, organized plan fall into place in case of future
disasters. Savings in lives, future insurance and energy costs, illness
and anguish, and personal loss will surely offset this effort, in place of the
disorganized and delayed response that now occurs whenever an "unthinkable"
disaster occurs. And imagine our peace of mind by arming ourselves with
the knowledge that we are prepared, and what action we must take to protect
ourselves and our families, when the next "unthinkable" event occurs!
Copyright Bess W. Metcalf Sept. 2005
Note: Reprint or publish if you wish, with this link.
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