Opinion: September 11 comes to Georgia

Local residents Thomas Lairsey, 71, and his wife Ann, 67, move into the Red Cross shelter at the Albany Civic Center to ride out Hurricane Irma on Sunday, Sept. 10. (AJC Photo / Curtis Compton)

Sixteen years ago today, a group of demented men inflicted death and terror on America, setting this date on the calendar apart from the others for the rest of our lifetimes.

Across Georgia and surrounding areas today, Mother Nature stands to do something very different, and yet all too similar.

Understand, I’m not likening the two actual events. What those jihadist hijackers did on Sept. 11, 2001, was unexpected, couldn’t be planned for, built a body count into the thousands, and unleashed, among other things, a war in Afghanistan that has claimed many more lives and still rages on more than a decade and a half later. The evil perpetrated by man is of a different nature than that wrought by the Earth itself. Fortunately, for the most part we can predict cataclysmic weather, gird ourselves and our property for it, or else seek refuge elsewhere as millions already have. No one strolls into the office at 8 o’clock on a Tuesday morning not knowing a hurricane will level their building within a couple of hours. A hurricane may be terrifying, but it does not leave the same terror that another attack could happen anytime.

What is similar is the line of demarcation set by events like 9/11 and Hurricane Irma. There is before and there is after, and for many people what they know from now on will never be quite the same as what they knew as recently as yesterday. For many it will be heart-wrenchingly different.

Southwest Georgia, which lies squarely in Irma’s path, in some ways hasn’t quite recovered from the flooding of the Flint River caused by Tropical Storm Alberto in 1994. We can hope Irma won’t cause the same lasting damage, but right now matters don’t look promising.

And so the response to this Sept. 11, as with the one 16 years ago in New York City and Washington, D.C. — and as with the one to Sept. 10 in Florida, and the one to Sept. 5 in Barbuda, and the one to Aug. 26 along the Texas coast — must be one of generosity and long-term resolve. Americans got in their fishing boats and opened their wallets after Harvey ravaged Houston. The same combination of elbow grease and financial support will be needed from the Caribbean to Georgia and beyond.

Anytime things like this happen, you will hear people blame the victims for what has happened. In the case of the recent hurricanes, it’s everything from zoning laws to divine punishment for the election of Donald Trump. I don’t share that ideology or that theology. But I will say this: An event like Irma, whether or not it has some kind of rational cause, is an opportunity for us to show the kind of compassion that is sometimes lacking or just latent in contemporary America. Don’t miss this one.

Reader Comments 0

62 comments
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Laura M. Simmons

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fivukixo

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stogiefogey
stogiefogey

ATL TV stations' remote reporters were doing a fine job this morning reporting on the storm situation down in Albany. Those poor folks could use a break.

Only reporting glitch may've been in pronunciation of the city's name: the locals prefer 'All-benny'.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

If I may say something not so nice...

On September 11th every year for 16 years, Americans are reminded and remember that fateful day.

One person who doesn't get to?

Osama Bin Laden, financier of September 11th.

That's a GOOD thing.

There still remains a $25 million reward for Ayman al-Zawahiri, the mastermind behind September 11th.

The day that reward is collected by some unknown, somewhere, will be ANOTHER GOOD day.

LIH, Osama!


FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Good article, Kyle.

Crisis has a way of bringing things into their proper perspective.

Though we've had three power outages this morning, trees down and the surrounding area a mess, we and our neighbors are alive and anticipating a quick clean up, after which, we can enter our homes and relax.

A couple of elderly neighbors will be needing our help and they'll get it. 

September 11, 2001? Always remember! Never forget!

bu22
bu22

Good post Kyle.  Period.  That's all that needs to be said.  Action is what should follow.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Sixteen years ago today, a group of demented men inflicted death and terror on America, setting this date on the calendar apart from the others for the rest of our lifetimes.

A group made up primarily of Saudis, and financed by a Saudi. 

Saudi Arabia is by far the leading exporter of terrorists in the world.

Starik
Starik

@breckenridge  Saudis who were rebels against the monarchy.  Not the Saudi government. 

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

Kyle: " An event like Irma, whether or not it has some kind of rational cause, is an opportunity for us to show the kind of compassion that is sometimes lacking or just latent in contemporary America. Don’t miss this one."


It confuses me how people will show compassion for those hit with a hurricane, but then turn around and shun those hit by disease or illness.  Why can't we have Universal Healthcare for all and the compassion to our fellow human beings? 


We don't tell people in a flooded house "nope, we can't help you, you didn't pay."  We help them anyway because it's THE RIGHT THING TO DO. 

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Why can't we have universal healthcare for all?

Ask Vermont and California. They both looked at it and decided it was too expensive.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Your moniker is LogicalDude but your plea is purely emotional. We already have a form of universal health care. If you want a system that tries to enforce universal equal access, service, and cost for every person, well, that is utterly impossible. Socialism has never produced equal outcomes; the various forms are inherently flawed and corrupted, because we are human. Why sacrifice our liberty for a false promise of some utopian tyrranical scheme?

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

I'd love to hear why a state as big as California, with a population greater than Canada, couldn't do single payer. Other than the fact that they can't print money.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

I'm still looking for a genius to explain how transferring wealth from the USA to other countries will change the weather?

Obviously Trump does not see it, thus withdrawl from the Paris accord.

And BTW, despite multiple computer models with real time data being entered regularly the best climate minds had to take a wait and see on the exact path of Irma.  Yes, they got close but "close" meant evacuating half a state unnecessarily.

But the tree huggers want you to believe - you must believe, amen - there will be sure catastrophe if you don't pay more for your gasoline. 

Doomy
Doomy

So the kook left politicized a natural disaster. No surprise there. There is no level low enough to which some of them will stoop. 

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@Doomy So, I mean, when IS a good time to talk about climate change? 


I mean, we can wait, but you know, not TOO long. :) 

Starik
Starik

@LogicalDude @Doomy  After it's already happened, and has major effects, it will be too late. I'll rely on science before far right babbling. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Good piece, Kyle.

My only bit of pushback? I'll acknowledge that there've been the usual dumb, cheap shots taken by some people on my side of the aisle, joking that Irma is some kind of devine payback for Red state errancy or somesuch. Such jokes aren't funny, they're stupid.

However, the article you linked? with the headline "Hurricanes Irma, Harvey are nature's 'wrath' for Trump victory, Jennifer Lawrence claims"

...not that it should matter, but she really didn't claim that.


jhgm63
jhgm63

@Kyle_Wingfield @Visual_Cortex While I am not surprised that people read what they want to believe in what others say, I expect a little more from "professionals".

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

If you were in the direct path of Irma and you and your family came through unscathed give thanks and please remember those less fortunate. We were among the fortunate. I see that some on here have stooped to the low of politicizing this disaster.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

An event like Irma (following as it does directly on the heels of Harvey, in a chain that can be traced back to the likes of Sandy and Katrina) should also cause us to re-think the right's knee jerk opposition to climate science. 

Doomy
Doomy

@Eye wonder


Complete nonsense. Destructive hurricanes have been going on ever since there was a Sahara desert. You should quit being so opposed to real science. 

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

I'm curious how much money the fiscal hawks in Florida will ask to receive from the gov.

Doomy
Doomy

@BuckeyeGa


Surely, even the progs understand the difference between wasting gubment spending and spending money to counter the effects of devastating natural disasters. Surely. 

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

Well said Kyle. I like the quote by a repub that basically said we have compassion for people in natural disasters. .......Otherwise, don't hold your breath!

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@RoadScholar

It's amazing how the Left places themselves on the moral high ground by insisting the government extort more from taxpayers for redistribution.

Our poor are well-off compared to the poor in other countries.

We have generous safety net programs that have been ruined by allowing individuals to stay on them permanently.

Americans have big hearts and generous wallets when it comes to tragedy.

The Left is blind in all but their own desires.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@BuckeyeGa @JohnnyReb @RoadScholar

What, you're saying that wouldn't be the yardstick for success you'd expect the richest, most powerful nation ever on Earth to use?

That its Poors are better off than the poorest Poors?

Doomy
Doomy

@BuckeyeGa @JohnnyReb @RoadScholar


Actually, our poor are better off than many middle class Europeans in several material respects. For example, the average poor person in the U.S. has more square footage of living space than the average German or Frenchman. The U.S. census will tell ya that. 

Doomy
Doomy

@JohnnyReb @RoadScholar


Yeah. I've always found it amusing that the people who want to keep more of the money that they themselves earned are the bad guys while the people who want to use the power of the vote to redistribute other people's money to themselves are the good guys. Its a twisted, sick mindset the progs have. 

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

Compassion without an emergency is called socialism.  That, in a nutshell, is part of the problem.  After a few weeks, the emotion will die down and people will once again oppose helping these people.  


How much of a rich man's money will it take to rebuild Houston or Florida or South Georgia will be the battle cry and the victim blaming will be full throat.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@JFMcNamara The country need to deal with it's financial problems (healthcare for all, infrastructure, DACA and immigration, etc. before they even consider tax cuts. What is the emergency aid and all the other items going to cost needs definition. But a tax on the upper 5% needs to be approved to pay for the bills coming, esp taxing hedge fund managers and CEO with obscene compensation and ridiculous pink parachutes.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@JohnnyReb @JFMcNamara Yeah, I know, that's why I said "called socialism". It's not actually socialism to want to raise taxes to feed to poor. That is compassion.


Socialism is about whether or or not the government owns the means of production. Republicans call compassion socialism to make it acceptable to be mean. 

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Compassion is JFMcNamara stroking a big fat check to feed and medicate and house the poor without a gun being held to his head.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@JFMcNamara @JohnnyReb As long as you and others completely ignore that a lot of Republicans think government is just a very inefficient and ineffective way of acting on our compassion, we're going to have stupid debates about this subject.

Doomy
Doomy

@JFMcNamara


" After a few weeks, the emotion will die down and people will once again oppose helping these people. "


Um. No. You help people through the tough times. You don't make them a permanent ward of the welfare state or a permanent dependent on others generosity. Geez. What is wrong with you?

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@Kyle_Wingfield @JFMcNamara @JohnnyReb


As long as you automatically equate inefficiency with government, then the stupidity can't end. The government is incredibly efficient at running programs and the military with no profit motive and little fraud. 


Just because the government does something, doesn't automatically make it inefficient no matter what old Reagan tapes say.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@Doomy @JFMcNamara I didn't say that you do.  I'm not for the welfare state.  I'm for acknowledging the systematic problems we have, implementing fixes for them now, then implementing long term solutions.  If someone is extremely poor now, their kids will be extremely poor largely because of societal factors.  


By not helping, we are creating another generation of people who require government assistance.  Until we actually fix the underlying problems with poverty, America will always have a large amount of people in poverty. 

Doomy
Doomy

@JFMcNamara @Kyle_Wingfield @JohnnyReb


"The government is incredibly efficient at running programs"


I'm sorry. That statement is beyond ludicrous. If gubment were so efficient at running things then the Soviet Union, along with Cuba, Maoist China, and now Venezuela, would have been a rousing success due to gubment. And we all know these nations were disaster zones due to socialism. 


" and the military with no profit motive and little fraud."


Not sure what planet you live on but as the Dems have pointed out over the years the military is rife with waste.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@JFMcNamara @JohnnyReb "automatically equate inefficiency with government"

Examining the evidence is not the same thing as mindless association -- what I assume you mean by "automatically." I would love to see some evidence of this "incredible efficiency" with which government operates these programs. 

Doomy
Doomy

@JFMcNamara @JohnnyReb @RoadScholar


You really should read your own link.


"In recent years, several studies have found that vertical intergenerational mobility is lower in the US than in some European countries.[3] "


Note that it says "some" European countries. 


A study conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that the bottom quintile is 57% likely to experience upward mobility and only 7% to experience downward mobility.[8]


Furthermore, you should use logic in your thinking processes. For example, perhaps you might have noticed that income mobility has decreased as we have become more socialized in recent decades. 

Doomy
Doomy

@JFMcNamara @Doomy


The only systematic problems we have are most likely due to more gubment involvement in our lives. 


Furthermore, if someone is extremely poor it is most likely due to the choices that they and their families have made in life and to their culture. No amount of gubment spending is going to change that, sir. 


"By not helping, we are creating another generation of people who require government assistance."


No, sir. As liberal Democrat Patrick Moynihan has pointed out the govt is almost entirely responsible for creating generations of people dependent on govt assistance- particularly in the black community. Gubment programs are what have in fact destroyed the black family and created generational dependency. The evidence of this is simply overwhelming. 

Pub Heaven
Pub Heaven

"Lot"

A word that may or may not mean a majority.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@Doomy @JFMcNamara @JohnnyReb @RoadScholar We have become less socialized over recent decades.  We have massively cut taxes and the safety net.  Cutting taxes means less redistribution which means decreased socialization...cause logic?


I can read.  I didn't make a claim that the U.S. was the worst in the world.  That's a strawman you created. I just said that there isn't a whole lot of movement between classes.  That is fully supported by the link. 

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@Kyle_Wingfield @JFMcNamara @JohnnyReb Here is a link with the overhead costs for many of the major programs.  They are extraordinarily low.  


My question for you.  What data do you have on government efficiency?  Find me a study that shows an actual high percentage of government waste.  


The problem is that government inefficiency is largely a myth.  If it were true, we have had many Republicans who could have fixed it or Congress would stop appropriations.  The government is the most audited, highly watched entity in America.  There is very little waste or inefficiency.


https://www.cbpp.org/research/romneys-charge-that-most-federal-low-income-spending-goes-for-overhead-and-bureaucrats-is?fa=view&id=3655&emailView=1

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@JFMcNamara @JohnnyReb "The government is the most audited, highly watched entity in America.  There is very little waste or inefficiency."

First, I also said "ineffective." Second, as we've seen time and again, the federal government also ignores more of those audits and watchdog reports. How many times has there been an IG report that points out enormous problems with government programs, and yet nothing is done about it? (Answer: many, many times.)

Third, as far as efficiency goes, all the CBPP report shows (assuming for the sake of argument that its numbers are correct) is that there isn't much overhead. Here's what it doesn't show related to inefficiency, taking as an example Medicaid: whether the money being spent, the CBPP's only metric for efficiency, is actually going to people in need (when there have been numerous government reports indicating fraud and abuse in these programs); whether the outcomes for recipients are high-quality (when there are studies, such as the Oregon study, indicating health outcomes for Medicaid recipients are not significantly better than those for the uninsured); whether all that spending actually leads to higher overall prices in the case of health insurance (not mentioned by CBPP is that the cost of many Medicaid recipients' care is actually transferred to the private sector because of low reimbursement rates); and finally, whether the entire original point of such programs, moving people out of poverty, is actually being achieved. Given the entrenchment of generational poverty since the Great Society, it's hard to say these programs have been a success. Low overhead costs for ineffective programs whose costs aren't all reflected in the budget may be nice, but they hardly tell the whole story.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@Kyle_Wingfield @JFMcNamara @JohnnyReb Ok, Here is what I know.  Countries that spend more on reducing poverty have lower poverty rates.  Show me a country where they spend nothing and have better outcomes.  There isn't, and it defies logic and common sense to believe that less spending produces better outcomes.  If you get a pay cut, are you going to lead a better life?


Part of our problem is that we already spend the bare minimum.  We have programs, but they are so starved they may not achieve their goals.  It's a Republican method to starve programs of money then blame the program for failing.  


Here is why I believe what I believe.  Its math based and I can show the correlation.  Do you have like data to prove your point?


http://www.epi.org/publication/ib339-us-poverty-higher-safety-net-weaker/

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Most of the underlying problem is kids growing up in homes without a mom and a dad. Democrats created that problem. How do your propose we fix it?