A Tuscaloosa police officer handcuffs a suspected looter in a destroyed neighborhood on April 30, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.(Getty Images)
A Tuscaloosa police officer handcuffs a suspected looter in a destroyed neighborhood on April 30, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
(Getty Images)

American Tornado Catastrophe: Cue the Looters

May 3, 2011  •  From theTrumpet.com
The difference between how Japan handled its worst earthquake and tsunami in history, and how some Americans have handled the worst tornado outbreak in history couldn’t be greater.

Government estimates say there were more tornadoes in a single day last week than any other day in U.S. history. Over 312 wreaked terrible damage in just one 24-hour period.

In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the damage was especially bad. Forty-five people are confirmed dead in this city of 94,000. Hundreds of homes, churches and businesses are completely destroyed.

But making matters much worse is what happened after the tornadoes disappeared.

In the days following the tornado outbreak, looters plundered the streets of Tuscaloosa.

It was so bad that Mayor Walt Maddox was forced to impose a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the ravaged area. And since then, Gov. Robert Bentley has sent in the Alabama National Guard to staff checkpoints into the most heavily damaged areas. Meanwhile, Tuscaloosa has been employing officers and patrol vehicles from surrounding counties and cities to help maintain order.

“We were completely overwhelmed, there’s no question,” Sgt. Brent Blankley said. In the days following the twister, residents complained of widespread looting, and officers didn’t have the manpower to confront people taking items in broad daylight from the remains of a convenience store.

Attorney General Luther Strange says they are going to make an example of looters that have been caught in an effort to discourage people from coming to this area to loot.

Now the storms have gone, Americans should take a minute to stop and reflect. Is there a lesson that can be learned from the outbreak? Following Japan’s massive quake, the Trumpet observed:

A huge chunk of Japan’s coastline is damaged, whole cities are gutted, widespread power outages blanket much of the nation, thousands are short on food and water, people wait in line for eight hours for less than a tank of gas, hundreds of thousands of people are displaced, nuclear reactors are on the verge of meltdown—and the Japanese are showing the world an example of composed restraint and orderliness. …

The spirit of sacrifice shown by many of the Japanese is impressive. Consider the Fukushima 50. …

With Japan’s disaster, we see story after story about cooperation, heroism, resilience and admirable patience and endurance in the face of adversity. We see a nation coming together—perhaps in a sense, even growing stronger—in the midst of horrible catastrophe. We see a nation of law and order even when the institutions of law and order are literally wiped off the map.

Japan’s reaction to the disaster puts America to shame. In Japan, we see what New Orleans should have been after Katrina, and what America should be. We see character in the midst of crisis. We see heroes, not in capes, but in white radiation suits and wet galoshes too busy nailing their neighbors’ houses back together to be looting from each other.

We saw an example that America desperately needs to learn from.