Kandace and I had the pleasure of attending An Evening with Simon Winchester last night, a wonderful event presented by our friends at Literary Arts. Mr. Winchester was mostly discussing his bookon the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, which I have not read (but now likely will).
The most memorable topic of the evening was the response to the catastrophe. Keep in mind, this happened about 100 years ago, which makes it all the more amazing. Within hours of the earthquake, all available troops in the area were placed at the disposal of the Mayor (which is actually illegal) who used them to instantly quell looting. By the end of the day, Theodore Roosevelt had the largest train of medical supplies and support yet assembled, on their way to the coast. The postmaster (also illegally) decreed that no missive would go unsent due to lack of postage. Within days, 10% of the U.S. Military was in San Francisco, helping out.
There is not much point in comparing this to our current administration’s handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, fresh in our minds. I will just say that I was very moved by this story, very much reminded of what a great country America is, and very filled with shame for the Bush administration.
Photo by Setsuko Winchester.