Thursday, September 8, 2005

Editorial: Not so far

Published in the Current

(Sep 8, 2005): While the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina is 1,600 miles away, people in our towns – even just down the street – are feeling its effects and getting involved.

Jack Malcolm of Cape Elizabeth and Ellen Thornton of Scarborough are back in their respective homes, relieved survivors of the storm. Aid donations are pouring into anywhere that is set up to collect them, whether a container truck at the Maine Mall or a firefighter's rubber boot at the Cape Elizabeth transfer station.

And though we felt only rain from Katrina, another “disaster” made landfall here: The federal response was not well coordinated. Cape’s Water Extrication Team was on standby, only to be told to stay put. The federal agency in charge said they weren’t needed.

Local firefighters and others signed up to help, too, but the feds are now saying they have everyone they need in place or on the way.

It’s hard to believe that, given the pictures and reports coming out of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region, where thousands of people are still trapped in their homes or places of work by floodwaters contaminated with hazardous chemicals and sewage.

Only a couple days ago looting and random shootings were reportedly commonplace in the ruins of New Orleans, and hundreds – if not thousands – who had survived the hurricane were in danger of dying before help arrived. It certainly seemed, from this far away, as if more rescuers in boats, like the WETeam, and more public-safety workers, like the firefighters, could have helped.

We know now that if the feds had acted faster in the immediate aftermath of the storm, more people might have been saved, or at least rescued earlier.

Only time will tell whether the feds were right to delay Maine’s offers of aid, but that’s not enough for people in our community, who want to help.

Though we fear they may not be, we hope the feds are making the right decisions now, after failing so miserably just days ago. And we can take heart, knowing that if more help is needed – whether tomorrow, next month or next year – we have people in our communities who are standing up to say “I will.”

Thanks to them. We should all be proud of their willingness to serve, and should join them in whatever way we can, whether by donating food, money or time.

Four years already

This issue begins our fifth year here at the Current, and we owe it all to two groups of people: our readers and our advertisers. Without you, we would not have survived, nor would we be continuing to thrive and grow, still working each week to become the best community newspaper we can be.

In some ways, to some of us, it seems like yesterday a small group of us were in a small upstairs office putting together the first issue of the more than 200 we have published since.

And in other ways, we have grown to become a stronger weekly paper than we had hoped, always with the news from Scarborough, Cape Elizabeth and South Portland, but expanding our range to include developments at the Statehouse, and deepening our coverage in our towns to explore specific areas such as business, religion and, as always, schools, police and town government.

We have also introduced our readers to interesting and enlightening people who live nearby, and have helped make and strengthen connections within our communities.

We have illuminated social issues, trends and controversies, and have received countless positive comments. But we are not resting on our achievements. Rather, we push forward each week, striving to be even better, and in that effort, we need your assistance.

Your story ideas, comments and friendly faces are all important to us. Please contact Jeff Inglis, editor, at 883-3533, or by e-mail at, at any time with anything you would like to say. We welcome letters to the editor, guest columns, news tips, neighborhood updates and anything else you would like to send our way.

Thanks again for reading and participating in this, your community’s newspaper.

Jeff Inglis, editor