Archived Story

Parasites preying on victims sicken me

Published 8:00am Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Last week Alabama witnessed one of the most tragic days in its history when several tornados ripped through the state killing more than 230 people, injuring thousands and causing millions of dollars in damage.

Following the destruction the citizens of Alabama mobilized to pick up the pieces and move forward with recovery efforts.

The outpouring of support from people fortunate enough not to suffer the loss of loved ones or personal property has been heartwarming and continues a week after that tragic day.

People have donated food, supplies and money in addition to volunteering time to help as victims try to rebuild their lives. The victims will not forget this generosity anytime soon.

These stories — the stories of people who genuinely want to help — are the ones that should be getting the most coverage. Instead, I have noticed stories about people who come to “help” but only look as though they are trying to get their names in the news.

I am speaking, of course, about Charlie Sheen and Jesse Jackson.

Sheen toured Tuscaloosa and said he would organize a fundraiser to help with recovery efforts. One story on Al.com said he went to a local store and bought flashlights for people in a shelter.

The story said he purchased $324.07 worth of flashlights. Am I really supposed to be impressed that a guy who earned nearly $2 million per episode for “Two and a Half Men” spent $324 on flashlights?

If Sheen were truly serious about helping the victims in Tuscaloosa why did he not do more? Yes, he offered to set up a celebrity baseball or softball game to raise money, but the cynic in me will believe that promise when I see it.

Sheen, after all, is in need of a public relations facelift following his public meltdown that resulted in his firing from “Two and a Half Men.” Please forgive me if I do not see his $324 donation as generous.

At least Sheen helped out a little bit. I have yet to see Jackson do anything but talk.

While it is nice — and important — to offer emotional support in times of disaster, I have always felt actions spoke louder than words. Perhaps Jackson could take a few moments to help remove some rubble instead of coming to Alabama for what seems like nothing more than a publicity stunt.

Sheen and Jackson are trying to help in their own way, which is more than I can say from some other out-of-state visitors.

Four men from the Tampa Bay area in Florida were posing as relief workers. But instead of helping the residents of Pleasant Grove, the men were victimizing them further by looting homes in the area.

Authorities said when the men were arrested, they had property from storm victims’ homes as well as materials being used by Alabama Power to repair damaged lines.

Why would four people get together and decide it would be a good idea to take advantage of people in shock after losing everything they own? Why would they drive about 500 miles to do it?

It is despicable. These men represent the worst society has to offer.

Thankfully, there have not been reports of looting in Franklin County and the people showing up to help are here because their concern is genuine.

The road ahead will be long and bumpy. Storm victims in Franklin County will need all the legitimate help they can get.

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