Friday, March 09, 2007

EDITORIALS>>Declare Dumas a disaster

Outrage of the week: President Bush and the Federal Emergency Management Agency refused to declare a disaster in Desha County, which was swept by devastating tornadoes two weeks ago. Disaster declarations are ordinary after natural catastrophes: tornadoes, droughts, floods and devastating rains.

But the residents of Dumas, who lost their homes and businesses and much of the public infrastructure, do not qualify. The law about disaster aid has a subjective nature, and George W. Bush and FEMA do not think Dumas is deserving. Arkansas’s senators and the congressman from the district, Mike Ross, wondered whether this bizarre decision had anything to do with the fact that Arkansas elected a Democratic governor last year and both senators and Desha County’s congressman are Democrats. No other explanation makes sense. If Asa Hutchinson had been elected governor instead of Mike Beebe, Bush would have declared the disaster in 24 hours.

Here’s another outrage: The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Arkansas’s statewide newspaper, denounced the senators and congressman, saluted the president and FEMA for denying assistance and told the people of Dumas to be thankful to be alive and that their suffering was not worse. Take care of yourselves, the paper told them.
We live indeed in parlous times.