Monday, March 13, 2006

Lions and Tigers and Bears... So To Speak.

Well, things have settled down a bit. Sorta. According to the National Weather Service, the area where I live (about an hour from Detroit) is looking at high wind advisories till midnight or so, and a tornado watch for the next couple of hours.

Fortunately, the only tornadoes I've ever dealt with "up close and personal" are the ones in "Wizard of Oz" and "Twister". But, like everyone else, I have seen the havoc they wreak, brought to us in living color by the TV news crews. I think that's an aspect of Mother Nature I would rather not experience.

Hurricanes -- which I did have to deal with as a cop on the East Coast -- are bad enough. And with hurricanes, you generally have sufficient notice to batten down the hatches. This was especially true in Connecticut -- we had at least 4-5 days notice, while the storm was forming down off Florida then moving up the coast.

I've seen pictures of the "Great Hurricane" of 1938.. pretty savage devastation, let me tell you. There was also one that hit Hartford in (I think) 1956 that was pretty damned vicious. I ran across a magazine special on that one. It had a picture of the house we bought in 1974... 20 years earlier, it had had some beautiful elms and maples in front, all of which were taken down by the storm. That was some impressive picture -- you could barely see our house behind all these toppled majestic trees. Hartford was clobbered, but the worst damage appeared (from the magazine, at least) to be in Rhode Island, especially Westerly (which is a city, not a general region).

This special also had a section on response to the disaster. Telephone crews from around the country (this was long before the Feds broke up the old AT&T into separate regional companies)were shown working to restore telephone service in the devastated areas. Power crews from around the country were also brought in, as were countless Red Cross nurses.

I know I talk about the Red Cross a lot, and if you're one of those who feel it is a worthless group, or if you think you'll never need them, feel free to skip the rest of this article. If, however, you accept the fact that old Mother Nature can get mightily pissed at times, or if you realize that some drunken idiot may T-bone your car sometime, you may want to finish reading this.

Remember that in many areas, the Red Cross provides the majority of blood bank services. If you get T-boned, chances are you'll need blood (or blood products). If you have friends or relatives in the Armed Forces, it's the Red Cross who can relay emergency mesages to and from your loved ones overseas. And if you get injured at work, and someone provides first aid, chances are that person learned how from the Red Cross.

And if you get hit by a tornado or hurricane, it'll be the Red Cross that shows up to provide food and shelter.

Of course, the red Cross is there in non-disaster situations too, like house fires. They have this tendency to show up and help get people squared away and back on their feet. Don't believe me? Check the newspapers for the next couple of weeks. I bet you'll see at least one story with a line like "the families displaced by the fire were provided emergency housing by the Red Cross". Or maybe you'll see "The Red Cross opened emergency shelters to assist families displaced by the tornado".

When the poo-poo hits the fan, the Red Cross will be there.

The Red Cross is completely volunteer-supported. They get no government funding (unlike Halliburton).

So if you get a chance, drop them a buck or two. Or give blood. Or -- best of all -- volunteer. There is always a need for people, not just after disasters like Katrina or 9-11. Call your local chapter or hop onto

It's always nice thinking that your donation has made someone's life a little happier. Or a little longer.

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