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Hurricane Relief Efforts Show What Sets America Apart Isn’t Government

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Unread 09.30.17, 10:14 AM
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Hurricane Relief Efforts Show What Sets America Apart Isn’t Government

On 09.29.17 05:47 AM posted by Chris Fink

When a 9-year-old Alabama boy noticed Florida plates on the car in front of him in the fast-food drive-thru lane, he asked his mother if he could pay for their meal.

Later explaining to a reporter, the boy said, “I didn’t want them to waste their money on food because they’re trying to escape the hurricane. … I felt like I should help out.”

Over the past several weeks, that impulse rippled through our country, revealing the heart of our great nation and showing that a free and open society is best suited to provide for our well-being.

“When citizens have the ability and the habit of associating for all things,” French political scientist and historian Alexis de Tocqueville observed during his tour of the United States nearly two centuries ago, “they will as willingly associate for small ones as for great.”

After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma struck, Americans banded together to do great things. Faith-based and civic groups mobilized to provide shelter and deliver water, food, and clothes.

The now-legendary Cajun Navy, in a convoy of trucks pulling airboats, jon boats, pirogues, and other small vessels, made its way south and west from Louisiana to pluck stranded Texans from the rising flood waters.

These groups and individuals did what was necessary to save lives and help their communities recover. And they did it with an organized efficiency that eludes even the best-intentioned government bureaucrats and agencies.

In Houston, furniture store owner Jim McIngvale, aka “Mattress Mack,” deployed trucks to rescue people and bring them back to his showroom where he’d set up a shelter.

Mack estimated that keeping his stores open for evacuees would cost his business $30,000 to $40,000. “We can afford that,” Mack said. “What we can’t afford is to cause these people to lose hope.”

Then in Florida, the Convoy of Hope, in coordination with a local group of texting pastors, sent 20 tractor-trailers with more than 30,000 pounds of supplies to storm-ravaged communities.

In fact, faith-based groups like the Convoy of Hope, Samaritan’s Purse, United Methodist Committee on Relief, and civic charities provide the bulk of disaster relief, and government responders depend on their sophisticated communications and volunteer networks.

Celebrities also entered the mix.

Hollywood staged a star-studded fundraiser that brought in more than $40 million. Houston Texan J.J. Watt raised $37 million for hurricane relief efforts.

And former NBA player Tim Duncan, a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, penned a heartfelt plea asking us “not to forget about the Virgin Islands” and pledging to match up to $1 million in donations to his crowdfunding effort.

He also chartered a plane to carry supplies from San Antonio to St. Croix.

But even before the storm hit, the compassion and efficiency of our free society was evident. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial called it “an ecosystem of human activity striving to reduce the damage.”

Hospitals evacuated patients along with their records and medications. Construction and utility companies staged supplies. Airbnb launched its disaster relief website so evacuees could easily find accommodations along their route. And Delta Air Lines Flight 431 undertook a daring mission out of New York to retrieve 173 passengers from San Juan as Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Puerto Rico.

To be sure, government must play a part in disaster preparedness, public safety, and relief efforts. But it should be a supporting role, not a directing one.

The stunning coordination of neighbors helping neighbors proved Tocqueville’s theory that Americans have combatted the pitfalls of individualism “with freedom, and they have defeated it.”

He wrote, “I often saw Americans make great and genuine sacrifices for the public, and I remarked a hundred times that, when needed, they almost never fail to lend faithful support to one another.”

I’d say we’ve still got it.

The post Hurricane Relief Efforts Show What Sets America Apart Isn’t Government appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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