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Too Much at Stake By Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.

Sept. 3, 2017

Too Much at Stake
By Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.


( - Like most persons of good conscience, my heart, condolences and prayers reach out to all affected by hurricane Harvey.  This storm, of unexpected magnitude, threatens to adversely impact the lives of millions of people for the foreseeable future.  Generous estimates suggest recovery will extend for months and possibly years.  These estimates are valid only if additional damage related to breaking dams and levees is not realized.

I'm personally affected by these events because I have immediate family members who live in Houston and areas of impact in Louisiana.  Giving thanks to Almighty God, they've been unaffected by the worst elements of the storm.  We only pray that remains true.  Having lived much of my life under the shadow of recurring hurricanes and floods, I've learned that material items can be replaced and that the true reward is being spared loss of life.

Considering the demonstrations of hatred and inflammatory rhetoric during the past several weeks, I was heartened by the spirit of universal humanity displayed in the rain and flood's aftermath of shared despair.  We saw that race, gender, nationality, age, sexual orientation and condition of wealth seemed immaterial.  What mattered was that human lives were threatened by the ravages of Mother Nature and mutual safety outweighed the superficialities of cultural identity.

I am sure that the struggles of the affected population's return to normalcy will be lengthy and uncomfortable.  One only wonders how and when the thousands displaced will achieve the daily routine they expect.  Questions loom:  How long will shelters be needed?  Where will refugees go?  Many residents won't be able to return to their homes.  Lack of adequate flood insurance coverage will prevent many from affording to rebuild.  Structural damage and the potential for mold and other disease will render many homes uninhabitable.

When the displaced can return home, how long will it be before human services are restored?  How long will it take to restore clean drinking water and the reliable movement of food and other essentials?  When can they expect the restoration of electricity, natural gas, automotive fuels?  How long will it take to verify the integrity of the roads, bridges and buildings that take us to-and-from the places we work?  What long-term economic impacts will those citizens have to endure?  I ask these questions because, as with Katrina or Sandy, there are no short-term solutions.

It is ironic that many Texas Congressmen and Senators who, for two months, delayed the disbursement of disaster funds in the wake of hurricane Sandy must now appeal for immediate relief for Texas.  Until now, they seemingly failed to realize that, when the patient is in pain, pain-relief is the only desired outcome.  They’re learning a lesson common to humanity -- "Me today! You tomorrow!!!"

I also found it 'interesting' that a mere ten days before Harvey made landfall, #45 issued an Executive Order that rescinded an earlier EO issued by President Obama.  President Obama's order was designed to require future construction to make infrastructure more resilient to the effects of climate change, such as the unnatural deluge and flooding associated with Harvey.  Ostensibly, #45's order was issued to speed up the issuance of construction permits, but I believe, as he has so often done in his short administration, #45's intent was to purge any responsible action taken by President Obama from the historical record of the United States.

The tone and quality of current public discourse gives an unobstructed look into the hearts of many in positions of authority.  What is crystal clear from this disaster is that we must not allow those responsible for managing assistance to our fellow citizens to allow partisanship or personal prejudice to interfere with the fair administration of relief.  There's too much at stake!!!

(Dr. E. Faye Williams is President of the National Congress of Black Women  202/678-6788)

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