Last Sunday, January 22, 2017, a series of very strong storms ripped through South Georgia with heavy rains, strong winds, intense lightning, and at least three different killer tornadoes. The storm hit in the very early morning, people were still at home, and the storm made assessment and recovery a very real problem for the survivors, some of who were standing outside in the storm, having crawled out of the rubble of what was once their homes.
There, in the post dawn darkness with torrential rains still falling, lightning still cracking through the sky, and dead bodies lying in the streets and in the yards of those who were injured and maimed, rode the Disaster Tourists.
The Disaster Tourists were driving by slow, windows down, cell phone at the ready, taking photos and making videos of the carnage, and even before the first rescue vehicle arrived, there were FB posts showing dead people in the aftermath of the storm.
Later in the day, as the storms passed by and rescue operations were ramping up, the Disaster Tourists were clogging the road, like those people who go out and look at Christmas light in December, or if you’re from Wal-Mart, late September.
A friend of mine told me there were people at the church he went to, crowded together looking at the videos they had made. Take a moment with that one. Here are the people who, according to what they say they believe, ought to be the first to get out and help, but they’re too busy sharing each other’s Tweets to get out into the streets.
Eleven people died. Dozens of homes were either totally destroyed or seriously damaged. First Responders had a maze of debris and destruction to wind their way through in Adel Georgia where most of the fatalities occurred and there were people in the way, cell phones hanging out of their windows, making their FB locally famous for almost an entire day.
. The people who survive the event are stunned beyond reckoning at the sheer magnitude of the violence and horror of what they’ve gone through. Their homes have been smashed to pieces, their belongings missing or unrecognizable, their vehicles twisted and ruined, their pets killed, their ability to communicate muted, their neighbors ravaged by the same storm, and there, driving by, going around the wreckage to get a better shot, is someone who is excited as hell at the photos or the video they’re getting making public the misery of their fellow human beings.
I’ve been at ground zero of a tornado aftermath. I’ve worked with FEMA in Mississippi after Katrina. I’ve seen things that still leave me flinching at the sound of high winds. I’ve seen things that words can hardly describe. I spent eleven days in Mississippi and never took the first photo, and to this day I do not regret it. I spoke with far too many survivors who spoke with utter contempt of those people who thought it was so cool to drive by and take photos of the lives of people who lay in total ruin.
You people who do this ought to be ashamed of yourselves.