Today is the first day of school for the kids in the Metro area. A lot of other counties are either starting this week, too, or one day next week. I think it is crazy to start school in August, but this has been a long term effort to change our public schools into a year round schedule.
By starting in August, the schools build in a week of “Fall Break” in October, a two week “Holiday Break” and then a one week “Spring Break.” So the kids don’t really go for a longer school year, they just get more breaks.
Since I don’t have kids, it doesn’t matter much to me. I find is strange to go back to school before Labor Day, as that traditionally meant the end of summer where I grew up. But in the South, the warm weather lasts a lot longer and they have redefined the breaks away from Christian holidays to be more suited to teacher’s needing a break and professional development seminars.
School back in session just means longer drive time in the mornings, as the school buses mess up traffic. I absolutely HATE getting stuck behind a school bus on my way to work. I end up leaving for work 20 minutes earlier when school is in session just so I don’t have to deal with school buses. Getting to work early means less sleep for me and not enough time after I get to work to do anything personal, so I end up making coffee for the whole office and reading the newspaper for 15 minutes every morning. Personally, I would rather get that extra sleep and skip the newspaper, but I’m not willing to risk being late due to traffic. So it is what it is.
This year I was really looking forward to going downtown on the Fourth of July holiday, but now I don’t think I will be going. The weather forecast is for rain tonight and all day tomorrow and a rainy Fourth of July night – all the way into Friday night. Yuck.
Several municipalities are cancelling their fireworks shows based on the rainy forecast. Some are pushing them out to Labor Day holiday weekend, which is a long way off but a kind of nice idea to add to that holiday celebration. Around here Labor Day does not usually mean much other than some people get a day off from work and all the outdoor swimming pools close.
Closing the pools on the first weekend of September is stupid in the South. The weather here is usually warm enough to enjoy a swimming pool for another 4 – 6 weeks. I can see that if they need lifeguards it might be hard to find teenagers and college students available for lifeguard jobs, but truth be known, school here starts August 1, so the teens and college kids are long gone before Labor Day.
Anyway, if it really does rain all day and night tomorrow, I will stay home and watch the fireworks on TV instead of heading downtown. The last time I went downtown for fireworks, we got caught in a violent thunderstorm halfway through the fireworks show and the asshole police would not let us leave the bridge to go to our cars. They forced us to stay out on the bridge over the Cumberland River and risk getting hit by lightning. I was never so mad and so scared we would be hit by lightning before in my life. I will never let the police force me to stand outside in a thunderstorm again. So any time there is a serious threat of rain involved with a downtown event, I refuse to go.
There was a small crew of men walking along the edge of the road this afternoon. They were carrying large canvas bags slung over one shoulder and a long pole to spear trash from the side of the road. As I passed the men walking, I noticed a large truck parked on the side up ahead. There was a man standing on the rear bumper and he had a shotgun or a rifle in his arms. That startled me. I don’t usually see anyone with a gun around here. Obviously, he was guarding prisoners on a work detail. That was the first I’d seen such a thing around here. It was a little disturbing to know that a dozen convicts are walking down my street and just one man was assigned to shoot anyone trying to run off. But at least the trash got picked up – no one else around here seems to care about it.
The terror attacks of 9/11 were responsible for a major shift in how Americans looked at emergencies. Though the terror attacks were a manmade emergency, the shift in focus also applied to other emergencies, such as natural disasters. The result has been increased emergency preparedness and response agencies and employees, as well as increased planning in how to handle emergencies when they arise. Following are eight organizations in the US designed to handle emergency preparedness and response.
- FEMA- The Federal Emergency Management Agency is the federal government’s primary agency designed to respond to emergencies. FEMA takes the lead in responding with personnel and with funds whenever disaster strikes. FEMA will respond to both natural disasters, like hurricanes, manmade disasters like oil spills, and to terrorist acts. FEMA sends rescue personnel as well as emergency managers to help during disasters. FEMA also provides resources to help Americans be more prepared in the event of a disaster.
- American Red Cross – The Red Cross has been in place since 1881. It is a non-profit agency that has grown into the country’s premier provider of volunteer emergency and disaster preparedness and relief. They are most widely known for providing blood, but actually provide a wide variety of disaster relief services.
- The Salvation Army – The Salvation Army has provided many types of relief to the poor over the years. Their services during times of disaster include mobile feeding stations, temporary shelter, medical assistance and missing persons services.
- Samaritan’s Purse – Samaritan’s Purse is an international relief organization that provides help in areas of war, poverty, disaster and disease. While they have many ongoing programs, they are always on call for disaster aid.
- State Emergency Management Agencies – In addition to FEMA, each state in the US operates their own emergency management agency. Most states are able to manage smaller emergencies without the intervention of FEMA.
- National Emergency Response Team – the NERT is designed to meet the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing during disasters. They operate through mobile units that can be rapidly deployed to disaster areas.
- Christian and Jewish Relief Agencies – Rather than a single organization, these are a group of organizations sponsored by churches throughout the US to respond during times of disaster. They include the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Organization, the International Orthodox Christian Charities, Lutheran Disaster Response, Catholic Charities, USA, Baptist World Aid, International Association of Jewish Vocational Services, Nazarene Disaster Response and Mennonite Disaster Service. These organizations work independently of each other as well as together to help meet the needs of disaster victims throughout the world.
Though there are many disaster relief organizations in the US and throughout the world, it can still often be difficult to meet all the needs of disaster victims in the aftermath of a tragedy. Sometimes the physical restrictions on getting supplies to affected areas can cause delays as can the difficulties in reaching affected areas because of damage. But, the organizations on this list, as well as others, make tremendous efforts to help disaster victims as quickly and comprehensively as possible under extraordinary circumstances.
Phyllis T. Zerkle enjoys blogging in order to help students find the information they need about online homeland security degrees.
Our neighborhood has two different companies service our area for trash collection. They are private companies that send out monthly bills. If you don’t pay these people, you have to carry your trash to the landfill, which is about 20 minutes from my house. The amount I would spend in gas alone is more than what I have to pay the trash company.
I decided to try to reduce the amount of trash that I put at the curb. If you have any tips on reducing and reusing household items, I’d love to read them as comments here. Thanks!