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Thursday, April 1, 2010


In case you have not heard, President Obama has declared Rhode Island a disaster area.

You know where Rhode Island is, right? Yeah, it's that little blip on the map between Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Rhode Island is making headlines now because of a storm that dumped more water in a short period than any other within a century. The Providence Journal has done a stellar job of documenting this tragic situation.

Rhode Island isn't big on the national scene -- not much of any imporantance happens here, as anyone who watches Family Guy knows.

It is a very pretty and insular place, one in which the quality of life can be very high if you are one of the few people enjoying the few truly good opportunities available.  Nearly 15 percent of the residents working have state jobs; over 12 percent have no jobs at all.

Now, however, thanks to this deluge, Rhode Island is the Venice of America and all of us here are drowning together on the world stage. Thanks mostly to the rising Blackstone and Pawtuxet Rivers, waterways that once were responsible for the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, a good chunk of this tiny hamlet is under water.

Front lawns are now lakes, basements are flooded, sewage treatment plants are taxed to their limits, businesses are shut down and highways washed out, and getting around means winding your way around back roads.

This was my view on one of the side streets enroute to work yesterday morning. I had to back up and find another way out. But at least I made it -- various colleagues are still bailing water as I write.

The question now is what will happen when the feds step in and money for rebuilding is made available. Rhode Island is notorious for rerouting extra dollars for purposes which they were not intended -- for example, a bunch of tobacco money that was supposed to pay for quit smoking programs somehow ended up in the general fund instead.

Let's hope that this time the money goes where it belongs -- to the people of an already strapped state who are just trying to stay afloat, in every sense of the word.

Amen, and pass the mustard.

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