By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: As media moves on, victims still need aid

Victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have begun rebuilding their lives and communities. Meanwhile, after nearly three weeks of nonstop hurricane coverage, television news is moving national attention to other distractions while awaiting the next heart-wrenching crisis.

This isn’t to say Harvey and Irma deserved less coverage. Rather, that they deserve something more than the norm for national crisis news reporting, which is saturation followed by abandonment.

Network and cable news are so committed to maintaining maximum consumer audience that they drive us, like lemmings, over one cliff and into a new sea of boiling controversy or distress. Between disasters, they distract us with Trump, Russia, North Korea and the wall.

As that happens with Harvey and Irma, the initial outpouring of compassion and support will fade. So, before national focus leaves Texas and Florida, here are a few suggestions for financial support that will help with the rebuilding of property and lives.

First, however, a few caveats from Jonathan Katz, whose article on Slate.com carried this provocative headline, “The Red Cross Won’t Save Houston.”

Katz soundly disparaged the American Red Cross record of raising too much money from initial sympathy for disaster victims, then underperforming on short-term and long-term relief. “After years of reporting on and inside some of the biggest disasters of the decade and change,” he wrote, “I know what a costly mistake the focus on donating anywhere can be.”

Katz called for a new kind of humanitarian response: “The way our society handles disasters — first the calamity; then the outpouring of sympathy and donations; then the long, slow rebuild — is wrong. As humans have long known, it is easier, cheaper, and better to mitigate or prevent disasters from happening than to rescue victims and rebuild after them.”

He encouraged more preparation, less crisis intervention. But that said, people still will want to help their fellow Americans who suffered great losses.

A well-researched recommendation from Denver’s 9News.com suggests three organizational recipients best suited to help Harvey and Irma victims: Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, Rebuild Texas Fund, and Florida Disaster Fund.

Those three charities will receive all funds raised by “One America Appeal,” launched by our five living past U.S. presidents. All have pledged coverage of administrative costs with other funds, sending 100 percent of donations to relief efforts.

Information can be found at OneAmericaAppeal.org. Now might be a good time to act, before Harvey and Irma become distant media memories.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com and at 503-687-1223.

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