After Hurricane Katrina: Help now, probe later

Thursday, September 15, 2005

There are plenty of reasons to wonder what could have been done differently that might have spared some Hurricane Katrina victims from their miserable plight.

And it is prudent to be concerned about gasoline retailers who obviously took advantage of those same hurricane victims by selling what fuel they had for more than $5 a gallon.

But is this the time to embark on congressional investigations? Thousands of individuals who have lost family members, homes and jobs need more than politically motivated probes right now. They need help.

Fortunately, the American can-do spirit is alive and well. Millions of us fortunate enough to have been spared from Katrina's wrath have donated billions of dollars for relief aid. Corporations have pledged huge and unprecedented sums in the hurricane's aftermath. Thousands of military personnel have been deployed to help restore order, including a sizable Missouri contingent. The Red Cross and the Salvation Army, two of this nation's most-relied-on agencies in time of disaster, have responded in ways that get the most help to the most needy in the shortest amount of time.

Perhaps the most inspirational response to the storm has come from the victims themselves, those who vow to rebuild their homes and their lives and to get on with whatever it takes to accomplish that.

In the face of such determination, this is the time for finding ways to help rather than finding ways to spread the blame.

If there were lapses of leadership and a breakdown in the orderly response to the hurricane, there will be plenty of time to sort it all out -- after the millions of evacuees are reunited with their families, have safe places to live and have found jobs.

And if gas retailers are deliberately gouging customers, prosecutors and attorneys general across the nation should be doing their jobs to enforce anti-gouging laws -- something Congress can't do no matter how many investigations it authorizes.

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