Disasters and Dumb-Asses: A Bad Combination

Having lived through the worst hurricane to hit my state in more than a century, I feel qualified to make a few statements on things which are happening in the world around you and me. Let me start by stating that as bad as things were in Howell...


My friends, our fire company was on duty for well over 24 hours. Our firehouse lost power early on Saturday evening. Thankfully our emergency generator carried the load for many hours. We carried on from Saturday evening into the early hours of Monday morning. At some point on Sunday night, we were able to rotate our crews out for some well-earned rest.

However, we were kept busy over the next couple of days pumping out basements and helping local homeowners. Please bear in mind that we did nothing spectacular here. We were just one of hundreds of fire departments in New Jersey who stepped forward to serve their communities. Fire departments and first aid squads came to the aid of their fellow citizens.

Sadly the Princeton Fire Aid and Rescue Squad lost a member to the raging flood waters. Michael Kenwood was swept away from his partner during a rescue operation to reach a reported driver trapped in a car. He is survived by a wife and three-year-old daughter.

Like all disaster operations, it will take a period of time to gather the information, create the reports, and come to the next round of conclusions as to what we might do better next time. Of course it does not look like Mother Nature is going to give us the luxury of time for reflection. As I am writing this commentary, two more storms appear to be headed our way.

With that in mind, let me chide our recalcitrant lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to get the hell off of their soap boxes and come back down to the reality of the tragedies afflicting the citizens who look to them for help. Let me assure them that "compromise" is not a dirty word. It is the mark of a true statesman. Let me suggest that we stop sending our money to support foreign dictators and ingrate countries around the world. There are people in many parts of our country who can make use of the resources being sent oversees.

Why did FEMA have to divert resources from the tornado victims in Joplin, MO to send money to New Jersey? Why do certain people in Washington, D.C. think that they have a mandate from the Lord himself to save money on the backs of people who desperately need help? Let me say quite simply to the powers that be: Enough with the political posturing.

It is nice to think of ourselves as a caring and concerned nation. But when that caring and concern comes at the expense of starving our own federal disaster programs to support regimes around the world who really hate us, then I say quite simply: Enough is enough my friends. If we can bail out General Motors and Iraq we can sure as hell bail out my flooded fellow citizens in North Jersey, as well as all of the states who need aid.

However, these are just the words of an aging, grey-haired, retired fire chief who enjoys an occasional cigar while puffing and pondering the problems of the world on his front porch. I look at the world and speak my mind. No my friends, it would appear to me that disasters and dumb-asses are not a real good combination.

HARRY R. CARTER, Ph.D., CFO, MIFireE, a Firehouse.com Contributing Editor, is a municipal fire protection consultant based in Adelphia, NJ. Dr. Carter retired from the Newark, NJ, Fire Department and is a past chief and active life member of the Adelphia Fire Company. Follow Harry on his A View From my Front Porch blog. He recently published several texts, including Leadership: A View from the Trenches and Living My Dream: Dr. Harry Carter's 2006 FIRE Act Road Trip. You can reach Harry by e-mail at drharrycarter@optonline.net.