Devastation in Oklahoma

Ken AshfordDisastersLeave a Comment

It was bizarre yesterday — I just happened to be at my desk and saw a news alert, and soon I was watching the live streaming video of that main F4.  I saw it form, I saw it grow and devestate, and I saw it die.  The good thing about that means, if *I* saw all that, certainly the people in Moore, Oklahoma saw it, and had plenty of advance warning.

When I went to bed last night, the death toll was 51 (including 20 children).  This morning, it was still 51, and one report said that only 4 were unaccounted for.  I find that almost impossible to believe.  I would have placed the death toll and a couple hundred easily.

And then, there are reports that even the "51" might be incorrect.  The medical examiner thinks there may have been double-counting, so the report said (on MSNBC's Chuck Todd Daily RUndown), and it is only 27.  That would be a miracle if true, but I can't seem to find the report elsewhere, so it just might be a rumor. [UPDATE – it appears to be true.  Death toll down to 24 (9 children), but it is expected to rise]

It's too early for politics, but already Republicans are acting like dicks.  Including, remarkably, the ranking Republican from Oklahoma:

The tornado damage near Oklahoma City is still being assessed and the death toll is expected to rise, but already Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., says he will insist that any federal disaster aid be paid for with cuts elsewhere.

CQ Roll Call reporter Jennifer Scholtes wrote for Monday evening that Coburn said he would “absolutely” demand offsets for any federal aid that Congress provides.

Coburn added, Scholtes wrote, that it is too early to guess at a damage toll but that he knows for certain he will fight to make sure disaster funding that the federal government contributes is paid for. It’s a position he has taken repeatedly during his career when Congress debates emergency funding for disaster aid.

Scholtes points out that Coburn was one of 36 Republican senators who voted against disaster funding for Superstorm Sandy in January.

Yes, by all means.  Let's cut back on food to the poor and others in need so we can help others in need.  That makes sense.  

Events like the Oklahoma tornado are called "emergencies" and "disasters" because they cannot be strictly anticipated or budgeted for. When they occur, particularly in a big rich country, we respond, at least as rapidly and with as little initial thought about putting on the green eyeshade as in the case of military necessity. Yes, the recovery stage of any disaster requires decisions that don't always involve saying "yes" to petititioners for help. But this sort of situation is a reminder that all the alarmist talk of fiscal hawks about a deficit and debt "crisis" looks pretty ridiculous when the real thing comes along.

You know the saying "when your neighbor's house is on fire, you don't argue over the price of your hose"?  Yeah, neither have Republicans.

Anyway, enough about that.

This happened: