Tuesday, October 11, 2005

All Tragedy is Local

That adaptation of Tip O'Neil's famous line "All politics is local" is what I thought of this weekend. While the Gulf Coast is still reeling and recovering from the recent hurricane disasters, Central America is still counting its' dead from the recent hurricane in that region, and even as we learned of the horrific earthquake in northern Pakistan killing tens of thousands, all eyes in upstate New York remained fixed on Lake George.

The tragic boating accident, for those who don't know, involved a relatively small tour boat which had 48 mostly elderly passengers. The boat hit a wake and rocked, and the passengers were sent to one side, which resulted in the boat capsizing and sinking. There were a host of failures - the boat was short a crew member (meaning one, rather than two), nobody was wearing life jackets, the boat was modified considerably from original design which made it quite top-heavy, and so on. Of course, many of these things are basic problems with lake tours - people want a nice view with shade, and don't want to wear lifejackets. Nonetheless, the tragic image of 20 eldery people, many in wheelchairs, drowning helplessly is tragic and heartbreaking.

My wife is from Glens Falls, which is a small city about 15 minutes south of Lake George. Her retired parents still live there, and we go to visit to help them out whenever we can. While her parents don't know any of the victims, they know many in the area and are naturally drawn by age and similar fragility to those who suffered losses. So for the weekend we went through many discussions about the tragedy, turning to the earthquake only as we left New York.

As we returned home, we learned that much of our own region had undergone many inches of rain, and that a large area in southwestern New Hampshire had massive flooding. We were lucky that we hadn't had such problems in our area, but due to the proximity felt great empathy for those who had lost homes and been injured.

So when the week began, we gave most of our charitable support ... to the people in New Hampshire. Sure, we did what we could for those suffering from the massive earthquake, but as the old saying goes, all tragedy is local.

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