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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Is the end near?


Also: A look at the state’s flooding disaster

With everything that is going on in the world today, it is no wonder that some people are beginning to wonder if the end is near. Sounds farfetched? Maybe not. Respected biblical scholars are poring over Scriptures for signs that are prevalent today and note that never before have so many people been interested in the subject.

These scholars point to many signs connected to the end of time in the Bible, such as wars, famine, natural disasters, civil unrest, poisoning of the air and waters, rapid increases in knowledge, and that life and property will be destroyed by fire and flood. There is no denying that all of these conditions exist on the planet today.

All one needs to do is to watch the national news each night. There are the barbaric wars in the Middle East where atrocities are committed, including the killing of women and children in hospitals. Nothing is off limits. ISIS is the devil incarnate, recruiting mentally unstable and vulnerable young men and women to join its hellish killing spree.

Around the globe, there are people enduring earthquakes, famine, and incurable diseases with very limited resources to deal with such conditions. It is appalling to see the living conditions in which some people live in the 21st Century. Then there are the illegal drugs, which create misery for so many.

In our own United States, natural disasters seem to be more frequent and more fierce. Out West, this year alone, there have been 39,000 fires, which have scorched more than 4.3 million acres. Currently, there are 38 active fires in 10 states, which have consumed more than a half-million acres.

When it comes to floods, seven states have recently or are currently experiencing flooding – Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, New York, Nevada, Texas, and, of course, Louisiana. The worst, by far, occurred in the Bayou State, said to be the worst disaster since Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey and parts of the eastern coast in 2012.

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber did a survey of homes in the city and surrounding parishes and determined that 110,000 homes had flood damage from mild to severe. The price tag for the damage was put at $20.7 billion. The parishes surveyed included East Baton Rouge, Livingston, Ascension, East Feliciana, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana. What is even more distressing is that the waters rushed into areas that were not considered a flood plain. Consequently, those homeowners did not have flood insurance and a regular homeowner’s policy does not cover water damage.

State Sen. John Milkovich of Shreveport, who toured some of the flooded areas, told me, “The damage is real, but the unity, determination, and faith are more real.” First responders were heroic, as were neighbors helping neighbors. He noted that while some heinous actions tried to divide the state, this natural disaster brought everyone together.

There have been complaints that the state has not been given the attention this disaster deserves from the national news media. I have to agree with that assessment. They spent more time talking about four cases of the Zika virus in Miami Beach than they did about the eight people who died and the thousands who were left homeless with all their possessions destroyed in Louisiana.

Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, dropped in on the flood area for a photo-op and to criticize President Barack Obama for not showing up before he did but did get some publicity for the state. The fact is Gov. John Bel Edwards had suggested to the White House that the president delay his trip until all rescues had been accomplished so as not to take resources away from the recovery effort.

Edwards pointed out the federal response has been great and that the state has received every thing it has asked for. The governor, state officials and federal officials have worked together to handle this catastrophe the best they could. They have done and are doing an excellent job.

The visit from Obama last week did shine a national spotlight on Louisiana and got a presidential promise that the victims of the flood would not be forgotten. He commended FEMA for the job it is doing in assisting thousands who need help. The president’s visit will hopefully give a boost to contributions from outside the state.

Many in our area know the feeling. They experienced flooding in the spring where many suffered damage to their homes and lost valuable possessions. Help came from South Louisiana and other parts of the state for them. So, it is not surprising that the favor was returned as many first responders and aid workers rushed to the flooded areas to lend a hand.

That’s the thing about the people of Louisiana. They may differ on politics and many other things, but when disaster strikes all of that is put aside as they come together working tirelessly side by side to help those in need. This state has certainly seen its share of tragedies and disasters over the years, but as always, we know that the people are resilient and will bounce back. It is heartbreaking, but comforting to hear the victims say, “We lost everything, but we have our lives. We will rebuild.”

Lou Gehrig Burnett, an award-winning journalist, has been involved with politics for 44 years and was a congressional aide in Washington, D.C., for 27 years. He also served as executive assistant to former Shreveport Mayor “Bo” Williams. Burnett is the publisher of the weekly “FaxNet Update” and can be reached at 861-0552 or louburnett@comcast.net.


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