All Disasters Are Local

One of issues that have come out of west Tennessee since the flooding is that the issue did not get as much media attention as, let’s say, Nashville. Of course Nashville didn’t get very much attention either until they started raising hell, which was fantastic. Nashville has a strong online voice and used it spectacularly earlier this month where, in essence, many people went from utilizing existing online media tools to become instant first responders and strong citizen journalists of getting the word out regarding the sudden needs of it’s citizens who were in crisis. I’ve talked about this before. From someone such as myself who lives and works online, this was pretty spectacular to watch.

But we return to the simple fact that not everyone is online.

This is not to say the Shelby and rural Tennesseans (speaking of the flood exclusively) haven’t done their part it’s just been different.  Former democratic candidate Adrienne Pakis Gillon has had her Facebook page loaded with clean-up efforts in Millington and has used that site to keep a running log of work in Millington. Her latest update is requesting more volunteers to help with houses that are still at risk. The online infrastructure is just different and a bit smaller.

Millington mayor Richard Hodges, in an article in today’s Memphis Daily News, is making a case about how his community is negotiating with

West Tennessee Corn Crop, 2008

federal agencies to help the city with clean-up and rebuilding efforts. In the story, he cites his role on the Charter Commission has taken a back seat to more heady and important issues such as the flood. And the story focuses on the fact that even in places outside the larger, more densely populated areas that 86 percent of the corn crop which had already been already been planted just in the couple of weeks before. Much of this is lost.

The story has some disturbing statistics. Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander opined in Shelby County earlier this week.

The toll on small businesses outside the agriculture sector also will become evident in the weeks and months ahead.

“Things look differently over time. But you still have businesses where their life’s work has been destroyed,” Corker said. “We’ve passed through some places where … you know they’ve had setbacks. They didn’t have insurance.”

Alexander cited government estimates that 30 percent of small businesses damaged in floods like the ones this month never reopen.

Yes, there is a bit of politics going on in that article as that’s what politicians do but there is also some wide ranging information on the bigger picture of what west Tennesseans will be facing in the coming months.

The thing that we are looking at is that we were already in a recession and it was bad enough. With the flooding on top of an already unstable economic situation is something that we are going to have to feel our way around, because it is unprecedented.

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