Thursday, January 13, 2005

#138 - Of Storms and Men

The recent winter storms that have pounded California have left me looking somewhat like a prune lately. While my eyes readjust to sunlight, I can take time now to ponder the fate of those who, like the recent tsunami victims, have been called upon to sacrifice seemingly without cause.

Most heart-wrenching (for me, anyway) are two stories. Obviously, the landslide at La Conchita is an extreme tragedy. We Woodys pass by this little community every time we drive up to Santa Barbara to visit family. It always amazed me that people would be plucky enough to build homes in a spot where that cliff had given way at least once before. It amazes me still that people there are already talking about rebuilding.

Another story that made the local news was of a mother in the Antelope Valley, north of Los Angeles, who had driven around a flood barricade and gotten stuck. She managed to get herself and three children out of the vehicle and onto the roof to await rescue workers. A helicopter got her two older children, then began to lift her while she held onto her two old. Part way up, the woman's grip slipped and the child plummeted back into the raging water below. They found the child's body downstream a few hours later.

These are incidents that I cannot possibly imagine having to live through.

There are lessons here to be learned, of course. Now, however, is not the time to expound them. Now is the time for compassion and action on behalf of the victims. We can save the debate for why these things happened for a later day.

So, what to do? Many, many people have already banded together to give assistance, whether physical or financial, to victims of storm damage. Some of us, unfortunately, are not in a position to offer that kind of assistance. But there are still ways we can contribute.

If your physical faculties are limited and money is tight, you can always give blood. Back in October, I posted about having visited the "friendly vampires" of the American Red Cross. I'd do so now, but have to wait for this dratted flu bug to pass. In the meantime, let me recap what I'd written in that post:

Being close to Halloween, I visited the vampires the other day. It's been awhile and I had some extra blood that was just laying around looking bored, so I gave it something to do. Years ago, this would never have happened without heavy sedation.

<Ensuing long-winded story about my unreasonable childhood fear of needles and how I overcame it.>

The "vampires" are, of course, the friendly American Red Cross volunteers who work blood drives throughout the world. I've been on the receiving end of their services, and I'm grateful they were there. I've not been a consistent donor over the years, but I always feel good when I do. I always feel like I'm making a real contribution to society, as opposed to this incredibly self-serving blog stuff I write.

The Red Cross gave me a donor's card last year, and it says "Type O Hero" right on it. Given my history with needles, I feel a little like a hero.

Please donate. Call 1-800-GIVELIFE to find out where and how.

Please donate. I will, once I'm safe again.

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