Again, I haven't yet listened to the podcast, will be doing so between classes later today.
Yeah, I suck. But it's because I've had to deal with this sort of thing numerous times.
However, as I sat and pondered this over a bowl of MacBaren Vanilla Creme, this morning, another idea came to mind.
There are already a number of "we'll give you a fish"-types of organizations and groups. These are the ones with which I have the most experience. I have a personal friend who, during Katrina, organized the donation of three semi-loads of clothing. Each piece was inspected, dry-cleaned/laundered, sealed in plastic bags, sized and sorted. All of this was done by volunteers. He had these delivered to the Hurricane-stricken area and was promptly told to "go away." He did not have the "proper authorization" to be there.
Being the sneaky bastard type, he drove away, secured the use of a number of smaller vehicles and proceeded to attempt to get to the most affected areas that way. Two of the vehicles were stopped, one at gunpoint, and the drivers told to turn around and return. He, himself, was threatened with arrest and detention. This was not a non-profit. This was just some guy who has amazing organization skills, sufficient charisma and access to a lot of resources.
Now, what I might suggest is an off-shoot of something else entirely (and perhaps this is that of which Jack Spoke).
I'm going to bastardize a military program's concept. We can even assign it a cool acronym like DART (Disaster Area Response Team), DATT (Disaster Area Training Team) or DAST (Disaster Area Support Team) for the fun of it.
However, what this might be is not a "Give-a-fish" endeavour, rather it would be a "teach-to-fish" program.
Utilizing the knowledge available in both the virtual TSP and on-site DA** team, training areas could be set up that teach people in the affected areas how to cope with the situation. Things such as field expedient hygiene, food location and preparation, safe lighting options, etc. could be covered. You could even organize smaller groups that work in the stricken area to help people overcome their own personal survival issues such as building an alternate shelter because their home has been destroyed.
I actually heard someone say during Katrina, "Great, I have clothes for a week, but I can't wash them."
They had no electricity to use their own washer/dryer, the laundromats were in the same situation and the water was. . .well. . horrible. Teaching someone how to make the water safe and how to make a field-expedient "wash machine" could go a long way. Likewise, teaching people not to cook their food in the kitchen on their propane BBQ Grill (and not using it as a heat source) may save a few lives, as well.
In other words, practical survival classes for the masses and an Advising Group for individuals.
Now, I do understand the desire to help people. I also understand that it's ridiculous what happens in our overly-litigious society. I am not a lawyer, but I still would be concerned that this is being led by intelligent, conscientious people wanting to help those in need. The problem with most intelligent people who have a great deal of common sense is that they tend to underestimate the stupidity (willful or otherwise) of their fellow man.
I count myself as a person who has a modicum of brainpower. I can count to 21 without having to take my clothes off. But even I have recently gotten angry at the stupidity of people. For example, I watched a segment on Fox News yesterday wherein an apparently physically-capable 50-year-old adult male stated that he was mad because FEMA hadn't come to his house and that the Red Cross hadn't brought him food. He actually said ". . .this is ridiculous!" and proceeded to get angrier and angrier that someone wasn't giving him something.
That same segment showed another, younger man complaining that someone in authority had condemned his house and that he and his kids were hiding in it because local authorities would allegedly seize his kids and throw them into Child Protective Services if they found out that the kids were still living there. He proceeded to actually say something along the lines of ". . .why do I have to pay out of my pocket to fix my house? That isn't fair!"
There was a thread here on TSP Forum that linked the story of one person's experience trying to help out post-Katrina. I don't remember the whole story, but their church opened up one of it's facilities to house some displaced persons. The people, rather than be thankful they had a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs, became even more demanding. The poster (or the person in the link in the thread) shared the story that they wouldn't even change the roll of toilet paper when it ran out in the bathroom. Rather, these people considered the small staff there to be nothing more than Hotel Clerks.
I'm not hating, here. It sounds like an interesting idea. Again, perhaps I'm just jaded by the experience I've had in similar situations. Perhaps something like an Advisory/Assistance Group that utilizes the adaptive brainpower and skills of TSP would be a greater benefit.
Sorry to douse the enthusiasm, but I'm a realist. I'd rather look at all the problems that arise and work ways around it to maximize the potential benefits while protecting those who are willing to step forward and help.
Having the entity sued because of someone who doesn't have sense to pour water out of a boot with the instructions on the heel is an even worse downer. "My wife and son died and I spent a week in the hospital. The guy told me not to use the propane grill as a heating source for the house, but he didn't say nothing about not using a charcoal grill."
There are ways to help. TSP'ers would be an excellent resource. But you have to think about the repercussions and do what you can to protect yourself and the entity.