Someone posted on my neighborhood listserve this morning, wondering "where are the cries for help for
the poor people of Iowa? Are they less deserving than the people of Louisiana?" The question wasn't from someone I know, and maybe I'm misjudging him, but my interpretation of the subtext was "all you people who were so dramatic about Katrina weren't really worried about the people, but looking for a reason to beat up on Bush."
My impression is that the floods in the midwest have caused massive displacement, and overwhelming property loss, but that there's been relatively little loss of life. Kari Lyderson writes at Rooflines about the contrast between the disasters and suggests a few causes:
- The local governments are far more functional.
- Most people displaced in Iowa are staying with friends and family; in New Orleans, many of the affected had no social networks outside of the city.
- Those from outside helping (FEMA, National Guard, volunteers) have positive impressions of the people they are helping: "To put it bluntly, law enforcement and volunteers in Iowa were not afraid of or harboring deep-seated hatred toward the people they were trying to help." I mentioned this idea to someone at work, and she commented that if Iowans break store windows, they'll be seen as "getting needed supplies" not "looting."
That said, I do think it took a ridiculously long time for the East Coast media to figure out that this was a major story. One of my colleagues is from Iowa, and she was stressing last week when the flooding started. I hadn't heard the news, so went online to look, and discovered that there wasn't a single mention of the flooding on the Washington Post's website at the time.
Some ways to help:
- Red Cross -- their disaster relief fund is empty and they're borrowing to keep going.
- Union for Reform Judaism disaster relief.