This post is in honor of fellow Riptonite Ceredwyn Alexander, an EMT First Responder who has just travelled to New Jersey to do hurricane relief. Ceredwyn was featured in the Addison Independent, you can read the article here.
Our Emergency Services are gutted and unready. The Vermont Guard was illegally deployed to Afghanistan, and our Guard’s equipment shipped off to Iraq.
Then Hurricane Irene hit Vermont… our Addison elected officials were nowhere to be found. But First Responders from other States travelled to Vermont, to help. The New Jersey Guard sent us two helicopters because we were left with only one med-evac helicopter shared with N.H.
“Doctors Without Borders are operating in the United States for the first time ever.”, Alexander reports.
When extreme centralization breaks down, folks find their own communities, and do for themselves. Extreme centralization is what I have been running for VT Senate against. We can’t afford it.
- Relocalization: To devolve State powers back to our Towns and communities is something that I have been running for. And will continue to do so through 2014. Local’s the only thing that works: we cannot continue to deny reality, in the face of an economy that will not recover (except for the 1% looters).
- Decentralization: Centrally planned and controlled schools, services & infrastructure are even now shutting down. We have to learn to do for ourselves. A centrally planned economy should have died with the Soviet Union. Let us make it die here in Vermont.
- Independence: Localities and individuals must be free to act, help each others and help themselves without fear of government interference.
Irene was Vermont’s wake-up signal. Montpelier hit the snooze button and did nothing but stockpile weapons, drones & tasers against civil disobedience and unrest… as if people are the problem. Now’s the time to hold those under the golden dome accountable. Show your representatives that we Vermonters have power: we are not just a tax farm and source of raw materials for out-of-State industries.
Some are beginning to call Sandy “Katrina on the Hudson” due to the tales that are circulating about the Scary stories are coming out of Sandy’s aftermath: One is the restricting of information coming out of the FEMA shelters. Others are of people trapped in high rise apartments without power for days. Doctors Without Borders are operating in the United States for the first time ever.
The people who have set up the most efficient supply distribution network are the Occupy people. My theory of why this is so is that most of the Occupy volunteers are locals. They know what they and their neighbors need.
Elderly and disabled folk in their 40th story apartments have only been able to get water and other supplies because their neighbors have been helping them. The National Guard, FEMA, the Red Cross and other “authorities” have taken two weeks (or more) to get into some places… -Ceredwyn Alexander, Scaling the Peak
Real people do what we know how to do: help, even as career politicians in Montpelier dither and wait for FEMA help that never comes.
From Scaling the Peak:
It’s almost 12:30 here and I’m working the 8PM to 8AM shift. We have a midnight curfew, so its pretty quiet.
Spent the evening seeing to the usual things one sees in a dorm full of people–cut fingers and hurt feelings mostly.
The shelter I’m working at is known as a “self care” shelter. That is to say all our residents are able to care for themselves and have few special needs.
Out in the lobby, we have hot and cold running law enforcement, which is a luxury when tempers are frayed.
Some of the residents are coming out of their shock into anger. Lots of bitter words about how much help they think they deserve vs how much help is actually available. There are still people trickling into the shelters because they still can’t return to their homes and they either can no longer afford hotels or there’s just no rooms to be had.
One of the huge problems here in New Jersey is that the central office for whatever their welfare program is (every state calls it something different and I can’t remember the initials now) is without power. This means they have no computer connectivity. This means they can’t make determinations of eligibility for things like food stamps etc.
Worse yet, some people have lost their jobs because they had to be transported to shelters where they couldn’t get to work.
Been comparing and contrasting, the reactions of people in New Jersey to reactions of people I’ve known in other disasters. As always, we have a variety of reactions. Some people feel better with something to do. Others need to create little dramas.
Someone once said that adventure was long periods of boredom interspersed with terror. That’s what disasters feel like to me. Strange to say, but for many of the residents, lack of activity is their worst enemy. With the disruption of their normal routines and day to day life, people are left at loose ends. They are also left without the trappings of their lives that make them feel like themselves.
Although residents here are technically homeless, very few of them are homeless. Mostly they are people experiencing the astounding bad luck of being in Sandy’s path. I know many fear homelessness becoming a normal thing in their lives.
The uncertainty, the lack of sleep, unfamilar food, unfamiliar rules all conspire to make very touchy people, and yet they live their lives not much different than before.
The night shift is quiet and I have time to talk to people–to have those conversations people only have late at night. I’ve had three of them since I started this shift and its now almost 5:00.
Gas rationing has started in New York, where more than half the gas stations are closed at any given time. They say its only a short term thing, but people here are settling in for the long haul.