Be the first to like.

Share
Harvey hasn’t even finished dumping rain on Texas, but it has already produced an honor roll of heroes.

 

There is, for example, the video of the boat-owning man telling CNN, “We got eight people that done called for us already. So we’re going to go and get them eight, come on back, and try to save some more.” On a larger scale, there’s the so-called Cajun Navy, a Dunkirk-like mobilization of volunteers in fishing boats and pleasure craft that is out working to rescue people.

 

The ethos behind these efforts is straightforward and admirable: Some people are in trouble, and other people have the tools to help them. Why wouldn’t they? Clyde Cain, who runs a Cajun Navy Facebook page told USA Today last year, “The reality of the Cajun Navy is everybody out here with a boat that isn’t devastated gets out and helps others.”

 

While many volunteer rescuers may be acting of their own volition, the federal government is welcoming their help and encouraging others to jump in too. “This is a landmark event for Texas. Texas has never seen an event like this,” Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Monday. “What I need the media to do is organize the efforts, to help us organize citizen efforts, to ultimately help Texas. These people are in need.”

 

That isn’t necessarily a sign that FEMA was unprepared for the hurricane, or that it’s unusually overwhelmed. In fact, the expectation that civilians will spring to action is central to the way federal, state, and local governments approach huge disasters like Harvey. There’s simply no way for those levels of government to marshal the resources fast enough to do all that needs to get done. Roads are impassable; resources are spread out; and manpower is limited.

Be the first to like.

Share
The Atlantic

Leave a Reply