Photo on front page of NY Times today: Long Island residents gathering to guard against looters wanting to profit from the tragedy of Sandy.
Classic looters situation. Disaster ties the hands of the law, with other, more critical matters to deal with. Time to get that free TV or computer. Sort of criminal behavior that used to lead to vigilantism. Still could. Neighbors guarding their own property, who could blame them if, attacked, their behavior transitioned from defensive to offensive.
I covered the Loma Prieta Earthquake – 1989, lord, 23 years ago – and along with a photographer was threatened by roamers and looters. As grieving families in Watsonville, California huddled around bonfires in the moonlight after their houses had been hurled from their foundations, others took the opportunity to jump in cars, loot, threaten and generally cause hell.
A few hours later, just a little north in Santa Cruz, another kind of mob mentality took hold. An ancient brick building had collapsed. Rescue dogs and their handlers courageously searched the debris and remaining standing structure for survivors.
Suddenly the dogs – four or five – sensed something and wanted out. You don't argue with what an animal senses. But when the dogs and their handlers started out, onlookers screamed at them to get back in. It began with a few, but ended up including dozens.
Fortunately, no one else was killed, though a body was foud the next day, a victim of the first shake. The behavior of those yelling for the rescuers and their dogs to get the hell back in there was as bad, or worse, than the looters.
Both paled in comparison to the behavior of the rescuers – and their dogs.
Causes Steve Hauk Supports
City of Pacific Grove Public Library, Pacific Grove, California; Animal Friends Rescue Project, Pacific Grove; Animal Welfare Information and Assistance,...