Saturday, October 15, 2005

Raindrops keep falling on my head

It's been beautiful today, a little breezy, but still ranging from the high 60s to lower 70s across lower New York state. It was hard to believe this morning, running around in sunshine, that we'd just had days and days of rain (if one can it put that mildly) and overcast skies. Only halfway through the month, New York City is on the verge of breaking its October rainfall record.

Wednesday through Friday were particularly bad. The largest umbrellas still couldn't be entirely effective against the downpour and stiff winds, and Thursday night I wondered if I had the flu. The Metro-North train seemed to have had the air conditioning pumping strongly, which made the ride home very uncomfortable. Perhaps it was just ventilation, but it still exacerbating my initial chills. But I felt better in the morning so that I fortunately didn't miss work, and more importantly, our department party afterward.

It could have been worse. New England has really been getting it, as the AP reported last night:
Northeast Slogs Through 8th Day of Rain

SPRING LAKE, N.J. - Toilets backed up with sewage, military trucks plowed through headlight-high water to rescue people, and swans glided down the streets as rain fell for an eighth straight day around the waterlogged Northeast on Friday.

Overflowing lakes and streams forced hundreds of people from their homes in New Jersey and New Hampshire, and parts of New York and Connecticut also were under flood warnings.

Some spots have had more than a foot of rain since Oct. 7, and 2 to 3 more inches of rain were expected in some places by Saturday.

Across the Northeast, at least 10 people have died because of the downpours since last weekend, and four others remain missing in New Hampshire.

Acting New Jersey Gov. Richard J. Codey declared a statewide state of emergency — the first step toward applying for federal aid — late Friday afternoon....

In the town of Oakland, a half-dozen swans glided down the middle of a street as neighbors watched water lap at their porches....

In Connecticut, the ground was so soft because of the steady rain that trees toppled, blocking the railroad tracks in Naugatuck. Commuters were forced to take shuttle buses....

In Alstead, N.H., where at least 12 homes washed away last weekend, Gov. John Lynch set up a temporary office in the town fire department, passing out laminated cards with his cell phone number and direct lines to state agencies and public utilities.
Yikes, and I thought I had troubles when commuting home last June. Yesterday doesn't seem that bad, either, when put in perspective. When I got off the train last night, the rain was coming down hard, and my feet were splashing through water as I walked through the parking lot. Thankfully I had driven to the station yesterday morning; the $3 parking fee was very worth avoiding the misery of walking home, even if it takes only several minutes.

What bothers me is that with every natural disaster, the federal government is expected to provide money, whether in loans or outright grants. No. I do not disagree with helping people in rebuilding their homes and replacing their possessions, but it should be done through private charity. Government "charity" invites abuse, and because the bureaucracy is not concerned with results but rather helping as many people as possible regardless of need (numbers are how bureaucrats measure their success and appear successful to the public). Government "charity" cannot efficiently or effectively determine who is in greater need.

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