Cedar Rapids after derecho: Not safe enough for the National Guard?

Cedar Rapids must be a mess. I say this because residents are pressuring Mayor Brad Hart to ask the governor for National Guard assistance.

A Cedar Rapids Gazette reporter tweeted Hart didn’t think Iowa’s second-largest city needed the Guard.

This ticked off residents who’ve been without power for four hot, humid days with many roads blocked by downed power poles, trees and other debris.

Another Gazette reporter tweeted Hart ‘“received sharp criticism” and “later clarified his stance that he believes it isn’t safe to activate the guard yet.”

OK, that tweet was not a direct quote of Hart, so maybe something was lost in translation.

Of course. “Safety First” is the official slogan of the U.S. Army and the National Guard.

I believe it was Lincoln in the Gettysburg address, “We here now highly resolve that these dead would not have died if they’d played it safer.”

MacArthur, when repelled in the Philippines, allegedly said, “I shall return … when it’s much safer.”

“Safety … brings out all that is best,” I’m purposely misquoting Patton as saying.

I could go on, but you get the point.

But “not safe” is the U.S. Army’s primary area of operations. The National Guard is specifically trained to respond to natural disasters.

The National Guard isn’t coming to your town to take over the place. They aren’t instituting martial law. It isn’t a coup.

They are there to help.

The National Guard is one of the greatest disaster relief organizations in the world, right up there with the Red Cross.

Get it together, Cedar Rapids leaders.

People don’t ask their mayor for the National Guard everyday. They don’t see a bar fight and call for the Guard. They’re not crying out for the Guard at every house fire or heart attack.

But a bonafide natural disaster?

Yeah, people tend to want the Guard for that.


Because they know the Guard is good at this kind of thing. They’ve seen it for years. This is what they do best.

I’m going to give Mayor Hart, whom I don’t know, the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he flubbed his message. Maybe the reporter summarized what he said inaccurately. God knows the news media is, at best, an imperfect means for transmitting your message.

I don’t know.

I do know that winds gusting more than 100 mph shredded his city. I also know the mayor and others have said this was worse than the 2008 floods, which caused billions in damage.

You needed the National Guard in 2008.

You need them now.

Listen to your residents.

Make the call.

Think how good they’ll feel when those camouflaged trucks rumble down the highway with all the gear and people you need to blast through the worst blockages, bring generators to the most vulnerable populations and help your wounded city rise up from the dregs of the derecho.

Or don’t call.

Try to muddle along by yourself.

You’re up for reelection in 2021.

Hope the voters have a short memory.

But seriously, do the right thing.

Ask for National Guard help.

Daniel P. Finney, blurry hands run in his family

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.

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