Disaster Response
September 06 05

I know you are well aware of the devastation in the U.S. Gulf Coast region. You are well aware of the one million people without electricity. You know that many of them are homeless. You've seen the tens of thousands of people being bused to Texas. You know that thousands of people never made it out of New Orleans. You've heard Mayor Nagin say that as many as 10,000 may be dead.

This is clearly a horrible tragedy. Some may not care because most of the people affected are black. But God cares. You may have heard the many people from New Orleans saying that this was a great city. You may agree if you like Mardi Gras and voodoo, drinking and gambling. Some of you may say that for those reasons, New Orleans deserved to go down. Some of you may be saying that God did this to rid the country of a few more heathens. While God does hate sin, and while He must have allowed this to happen, we must keep in mind that God loves all people. And so should we.

How ashamed we should be that rather than having spent time sharing the Gospel with these poor people, we stood from afar and pointed fingers. I do know that some Christians have viewed New Orleans as a mission field and have been obedient to God's call to make disciples everywhere we go. But far too few have cared. And now that thousands of families are desperate for help, far too few are willing to open up their homes to them.

I also want to remind us of another aspect of this tragedy. The Navy officers aboard the U.S.S. Harry Truman had procured MREs, water, and other essentials even before Katrina hit. They saw the projected path of the storm and saw the need to stockpile provisions as they were stationed out in the Gulf of Mexico. And then they waited. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was the government agency in charge of making the calls to deploy any military assistance deemed necessary. The Truman did not receive a call until a week after the hurricane.

I know you are aware of the blame being placed on President Bush due to the fact that on Monday morning, when the hurricane came ashore, he acknowledged the storm, but did not act. On Tuesday morning, when it became apparent that perhaps a levee (some say a flood wall) was breached and water from Lake Pontchartrain was filling the city below, the President said America would pray for the people, but little action was taken. As Tuesday wore on, we became aware that some 80% of the city was now flooded as high as 20 feet, but the government had still not deployed any National Guard troops. We all watched as Mayor Nagin called on New Orleans police and firefighters to come to the rescue. We watched the excellent work of the Coast Guard as they lifted some 4,000 people to safety by Wednesday. Yet, there were still thousands who were stranded on Wednesday. Some have verified that the President was playing golf. I don't know, but I do know that the President was at his ranch on Wednesday, and no National Guard troops had been called up.

Finally, on Thursday, the President left Texas and flew over the area on his way to Washington. Couldn't he have landed in Mississippi or Alabama? Instead, he flew from Washington to Alabama on Friday. In most areas, there were still no National Guard troops. It was not until Saturday that the Guard troops arrived. Some blame the President for the lack of response. Some blame FEMA. On Friday, the President said the federal response was "not acceptable." Later that day, he clarified his remark: Lest anyone think he was referring to his own response to the hurricane, he said that he was satisfied with the decisions made at the federal level, but he was not satisfied with the outcome. Is there a government conspiracy? Was FEMA under orders to delay the call-up of troops and those Navy ships?

Through all of this, many have called for a stronger state; many want to see a more centralized government with greater powers. But then I have to look at the thousands of people herded from one dome to another who may not see a real home for months to come. I have to consider the implications of some private agency like the Red Cross, coordinating with federal agencies like FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, to round up thousands of displaced people and force them into large camps where they are beholden to the authority of others. And then I have to consider that it would have been a much more efficient round-up if each person had already received a chip implant. With Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology built in, each person's whereabouts could be tracked throughout their stay at the Superdome, to their bus trek to Houston, to their new home at the Astrodome. How much easier it would have been for family members to locate each other. As each refugee passed through the doors of the Astrodome, their information would have been beamed to a database and posted on the Web.

Each time there is a tragedy or a breach in security, we get one step closer to such a scenario. After 9/11, many Americans pleaded for more safeguards, which often involve more precise tracking of identity and geographic location. Each time a child goes missing, we cry for a way to track down his whereabouts. Each time a crime is committed, we become more open to having some kind of chip implant. And now we have a great human tragedy on our hands in New Orleans, the response to which many are calling deplorable. The government is now searching for ways to improve its response to disasters in the future. The Bible predicts it. Are you ready for the new technology?


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The full list of articles: 5 Minutes With Carol

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