News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Katrina leaves nation with greatest challenge

Since Sept. 11, 2001, our government has focused on the probability of terrorists breaching our homeland security and how we are to respond.

The scenarios include being alert to the possibilities of biological agents going into air ducts and drinking water, and dirty bombs that release nuclear radiation in one of our major cities.

Now that great devastation is upon the nation, even though it came from an old foe that we came to see as a nuisance and not as an enemy, we find ourselves woefully unprepared.

That's, perhaps, because a nation never adequately prepares for such a disaster, it simply responds as best it can.

Hurricane Katrina leaves the nation faced with its greatest internal challenge ever.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, in desperation, ordered total evacuation of the half million residents of New Orleans. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour compared the Gulf Coast area to the aftermath of dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

It's a disaster that threatens to break out of its confinement and engulf the country as death and disease replace the flood waters as the greatest concerns.

Then, there is what to do with the hundreds of thousands of displaced people, and how to help them reconnect their lives and give them hope.

Governments at all levels must help. Volunteer agencies must go into overdrive and churches and civic organizations must be creative in offering help quickly.

Already, with so many refugees in our area, the combined army of volunteers is starting to respond. The Red Cross, for instance, opened a shelter in Priceville on Wednesday and more refugees are likely to show up exhausted, frightened and in danger of running out of money to pay for hotel rooms.

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