Pl RT Folks working #Endmtr put that aside, aid #WV #Derecho. Greenbrier, Tomblin keep up images. http://bit.ly/Ob9GyX
"You have got to stop it." That's what Wendell Berry said in his speech about mountaintop removal which I got to hear when he delivered it (for the second time) at Sunday breakfast at the Society of Environmental Journalists Annual Conference for 2008 in Roanoke, Virginia.
I thought of Wendell Berry today, as I got a request to help spread word on twitter that we should #EndMtr. I had already promised to help Elisa Young and Robin Blakeman spread the word for the need for aid in the aftermath of the Derecho.
Elisa felt the effects of the storm herself in Ohio. Robin Blakeman was lucky enough to be on vacation with her daughter New York City, but AMTRAK's cancellation of her trip home to Huntington because of the weather meant a budget-busting (and exhausting) car rental.
And yet both of them are working with John David and others at the Southern Appalachian Labor School to mobilize those who want to donate food and water to those in Fayette County WV who still have no electric power after the Derecho. There are others involved now, too. The ones I know about are:
- Stacy Gloss (whom I know from United Defense in Tennessee, but she has since moved to Charleston and works for another group)
- Danny Chiotos of Mountain Keepers
- Vernon Haltom and Rob Goodwin of Coal River Mountain Watch
- Janet Keating and Tonya Atkins from Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.
We don't have all of the T's crossed and the I's dotted. All I can tell you is we're going to give it all we've got...
You can watch the whole conference in this video from Douglas Imbrogno of The Charleston Gazette:
Since then, I haven't read anything documenting his donations. In fact, not much news out of West Virginia has concentrated on the need for relief. This in the face of reports from Vickie at SALS that the National Guard is not helping anymore, because there is no longer emergency and that
400-500 volunteers were sent up to the PGA to clean up the golf course - PGA is most important thing in the state. Heard the governor said he was going to go to the PGA just to show the rest of the world that West Virginians are tough and could make it through anything.
(At the bottom of this post, I've got more of Elisa's notes from talking to Vickie)
If you can't send food because you're too far away, donations of money which will be used to buy food. Vernon has told me that his group will be taking donations with a deadline for purchases to deliver to the school. That's because the school is doing everything it can just to cope without handling donations. (Again, I'll update in just a while with the details.) Here's what Elisa mailed in her "urgent update."
Communities in Fayette County, WV, have asked for help during the state of emergency declared during the extended power outage from last week's storms. Fayette is still...largely without electricity, food, and water. The national guard has been dispatched, but has not reached many of these communities from what we are hearing.*
I'm scheduled to drive down to Charleston on Friday morning for a records review at the WVDEP, where volunteers from SALS and OVEC are planning to meet to transfer and distribute donations to people who have been doing without food and water for over a week. A lot to do in very little time for people who really need the help now. I'm sure any and all donations will be much appreciated.
The title for this post is from Wendell Berry's "Speech Against the State Government." It follows his more famous statement about strip mining, "You cannot regulate an abomination." Here is the quote in context:
Kentucky conservationists are not the first people to have to confront their own helplessness before an alien government. Others have done so, and you know some of their names. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King are two of them; there have been many others. Their solution to the problem of powerlessness is to make of powerlessness a power. The name of this solution is non-violent resistance or insistence, including civil disobedience. If your government will not rise to the level of common decency, if it will not deal fairly, if it will not protect the land and the people, if it will not fully and openly debate the issues, then you have to get in the government’s way. You have to forbid it to ignore you. You have to provide it with two new choices: either it must grant you the consideration that it rightfully owes you, or it must expose itself openly as a government not representative of the people but owned by the privileged few.I think that it is that very unwillingness to remain patient that has provoke Elisa and Robin and others to remedy not only the acts of man, but an act of God. Or was the Derecho just an act of God? Some say that the climate change brought on by carbon emissions has contributed to the severe weather. But does it really matter? Only the most stringent supporters of fossil fuels could argue that those emissions have made things better.Why debate? Only the most stringent supporters of Justice and of Alpha could argue that they have behaved nobly in the current crisis.
And here yet another temptation asserts itself. Why not wait until our cause becomes vivid and urgent enough, and our side numerous enough, to vote our opponents out of office? Why not be patient?
My own answer is that while we are being patient, more mountains, forests, and streams, more people’s homes and lives, will be destroyed in the Appalachian coal fields. Are 400,000 acres of devastated land, and 1,200 miles of obliterated streams not enough? This needs to be stopped. It does not need to be “regulated.” As both federal and state governments have amply shown, you cannot regulate an abomination. You have got to stop it.
If I recall correctly (you can listen here to fact check), Berry explained when he gave his speech for the second time that he had talked it over with his brother. Since not many legislators had listened in Frankfort at the Kentucky State Capitol on "I Love Mountains Day" in February, they both reckoned it was okay if he gave the speech again to the Society of Environmental Journalists.
As far as I am concerned, I could listen to Berry give his speech as many times as he care to. But, I wish it no longer rang true. I wish that it were quaint and outdated. I am tired of politicians and coal companies executives justifying their inaction--whether in making changes to preserve our mountains and ensure a sustainable future or in allocating the resources for thirsty and desperate people in the face of the Derecho.
So please folks, do what you can to help. And spread the word.
Here's the full transcript Elisa sent me of her conversation with Vickie at SALS today:
I'm swamped, so this won't be so coherent, but passing on brief notes I typed while on phone about delivering donations tomorrow. She said it was okay to share. I think the
same thing is happening here in Ohio, but no communication. I just heard about this from friends in WV I'm connected with. The Red Cross, food pantries, are not working on his here when called. UCM [United Campus Ministries] doing meal tonight and upcoming, expecting more people.
I just got off the phone with SALS about delivering donations tomorrow and wanted to share that the situation there is pretty desperate.
One woman came up asking for help while I was talking with SALS - put her on the phone saying it was a typical scenario. She was crying saying she normally works at the
restaurant, but because the electricity was out had not been able to work in a week. She had 3 children. They weren't prepared for a major disaster and they'd had a couple
of cans of soup in the house, but normally kept frozen and refrigerated food, which went bad. Most people have spent money on fuel either to get to more remote pantries and feeding centers or running generators. She had spent $600 on fuel for a generator and now had nothing left for food, and there was no food to buy anyway.
SALS told me there are kids walking down the road to them, asking for food. How do you tell kids there is no food?
The electricity had been restored temporarily to part of the area last night, more affluent, but not in the rural areas. At the 911 meeting that was held, the officials said there was no longer an emergency. They gave SALS one pallet of MREs and one pallet of water. All of the ice that had been brought in was given to nursing homes, saying they "didn't want to give it to people just to put in beer coolers." They have locked up the ice. There are two feeding stations in Glengene(?), but people can't get there.
The national guard is not helping now because the officials have told them there is no longer an emergency. The temporary electricity that was hooked up has now gone back out and no one has anything. She said the people in charge have good jobs and don't understand why people can't spend $600 on diesel fuel and have nothing left for food. She started crying at that point and said she wished she could cure the world and make them have sense, compassion, but they think if they are okay then everyone else must be.
I asked her how many people had come for help today, food and water. She said that even not being advertised, there were at least 30 who came, each representing a family of
between 3-5, many single parents. People begging for crumbs and they don't have crumbs to give them, it's disheartening.
Said if she had a gas powered generator there are four floors in their community building and could house a thousand people in natural disasters like this, but as is, they
can't. It will probably take in her estimation 6 months to get the power back up and running.
She said 400-500 volunteers were sent up to the PGA to clean up the golf course - PGA is most important thing in the state. Heard the governor said he was going to go to the
PGA just to show the rest of the world that West Virginians are tough and could make it through anything.
Down to their last, there is no more to get - where to go from here.
Nursing home across street is 60+ seniors now out of food. Can't replace it. Fed them today, took it to them, they could not walk over to them. One MRE meal a day can
survive on it if have to - 2000 calories.
Oh my God.