Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irene Aftermath

The full scope of the disaster in the Northeast is just now becoming clear, with some roads  slowly reopening, electricity and internet  being spottily restored and people venturing out to inspect the damage.  It's a scene of utter destruction. 

But to give you an idea of the spirit that reigns in these parts right along with the devastation, here is a film made by Jo Ostrander, a resident of the little town of Shokan in northern Ulster County, NY.  This whole area is known as "greater Woodstock".  I call it the Dried Lentil Belt.  Much of the region is populated by hippies who never left after that epic weekend in 1969, along with a lot of artists and craftspeople.  One of the towns  pictured in the video is Phoenicia, recently named the "sixth coolest small town in America".   The award winning indie film, "You Can Count on Me" and the cult horror classic "Wendigo" were filmed there.  

This area is not wealthy, not by a long stretch.  Average household income in Phoenicia is about $22,000.  Nearby Margaretville has been figuratively underwater for years, with close to 20 percent of the population living below the poverty level.  Now it's literally underwater.

I can now count among my list of accomplishments the fact that my neighborhood has been named an official federal disaster area by the president.  But of course, the austerian politicians want this flood-ravaged region to tighten its belt and share the sacrifice.  If any federal money is forthcoming for repairs of infrastructure and humanitarian aid, they want us to cut back in other ways.  They also want to raise taxes on the victims of this catastrophe, having just now noticed that nearly half of poor people haven't been earning enough to pay taxes.  So maybe they can wrest a compromise from the White House  trading a few dollars of storm damage relief for a reduction in food stamp benefits or the earned income tax credit.

Maybe they should also reflect on the fact that the dams are bursting, and torrents of polluted water flow downhill to Wall Street.  The drinking water of the oligarchs originates in this disaster zone.

Update: Marie Burns of RealityChex.com is at least temporarily back online from Disaster Zone Central. Glad to hear she is ok.

5 comments:

mac gordon said...

I live near Brattleboro, Vt., where a tiny waterway, the Whetstone Brook, transformed into a bank bursting torrent.
Downtown Brattleboro was devastated by the silt laden water. But, intrepid as ever people were out early, trying to help their neighbors clean up.
What has been shocking to me in the aftermath of this disaster, is the contrast between the decency and compassion of the populace, versus the abject cruelty of the politicos.
I no longer know what to say about people like Cantor, and Perry, who would have FEMA relief offset by 'cuts' elsewhere. And, we know that the democrats won't stand up to them.
What sort of 'wasteland' do they want the US to become?

John in Lafayette said...

Our country is truly sick if our immediate reaction is to do anything other than get the victims of the hurricane all the assistance they need as quickly as possible. Have we truly sunk so low that we would countenance anything else? Are there no longer any ties that bind us as countrymen?

The only interest we recognize any longer is unbridled self interest, and the powers that be have convinced a large portion of our population that this is good.

How does Eric Cantor sleep at night?

Powderfinger said...

I love reading your comments in the NYT. I seem to be in agreement with you all the time!

As a former HV resident, I also appreciate the fact you're from New Paltz. Keeps me connected in a way.

One question, though? How do you manage to be the first comment so often?

Karen Garcia said...

@Powderfinger,
I am the first comment only once in awhile. Most of the time, commenting early in the evening when columns are posted will get you among the first published... but comments are not always posted in the order received. I think the moderators want to ensure that people commenting later are noticed, too. Otherwise you get the same people day after day! And there are hundreds and hundreds of participants, which is great. Thanks for writing!

Valerie said...

Well, the Federal Government better get used to providing disaster relief because with all the global warming - that every First World country openly acknowledges except the U.S. - this is just the tip of the iceberg.