When the words fail
In the aftermath of this natural disaster surely even the most staid and conservative amongst us are beginning to see the inadequacy of the terms which litter media reporting. "LOOTERS!" scream the headlines, yet when we read the text we see images of people desperate to get food, supplies and clothing.
Tens of thousands of people were left stranded. Efforts to evacuate them are confronted with enormous difficulties and severely strained resources. Most of the people stranded are the ill, the infirm, the poor. People for whom evacuation warnings meant little, because they simply had no means by which they could leave. And they are left in increasingly dire circumstances. The sheer scale of the event leaves authorities bewildered as to how they can rescue the survivors.
In such times it makes little sense to focus on the opportunists. Sure, there are those who would take advantage of any situation, and who have plundered jewellery stores and the like. But for the most part the reports we see describe people who are trying to obtain food and even drinking water as 'looters'. Surely such an emotive and value-laden term does nothing to acknowledge their plight.
Our energies are wasted in focussing attention on the opportunists in such a time. Instead it should be focussed on the desperate needs of those in danger and of those who have lost all in the disaster. But we should remain mindful of the opportunists to come. Predators will inevitably take advantage of human generosity with 'Disaster scams'. Please don't be victim to them. People who wish to help should make their contributions only via the recognised and reputable channels.
American Red Cross has set up a means of donating online. So have the Salvation Army and many other religious organisations. The Oklahoma based Feed the Children organisation has devoted its current attention to hurricane disaster relief.
Give if you can, and do so generously, but be careful to give in a way that is going to help. Those people who wish to check on the legitimacy of organisations, websites and other sources who are soliciting donations can make use of the advice and assistance available at The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.