Disaster RepairIt was with both enthusiasm and dismay that...


September 18, 1992

Disaster Repair

It was with both enthusiasm and dismay that I read James J. Kilpatrick's commentary, "There Are Lessons in Hurricanes" (Sept. 2), in which he advocated training the National Guard in construction skills for use after a natural disaster.

My enthusiasm came from thoroughly agreeing with him. My dismay came from his apparently not being aware that this has already been done!

I am the commander of a typical civil engineering squadron in the Air National Guard. Squadrons like ours are trained and equipped to do the very things Mr. Kilpatrick described.

Our primary wartime mission is to repair an air base rapidly after an enemy attack.

And those after-attack actions are almost exactly like the work that is needed after a hurricane, tornado or earthquake: Repair downed power lines, generate emergency electrical power, clear debris, shore up damaged buildings, repair damaged roads and bridges, purify water for drinking, set up temporary shelters and do a host of other such jobs.

Our people are already trained in such skills as carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, water purification, sewage treatment and operating bulldozers, cranes and forklifts.

We are also trained to evaluate facilities and determine which can be patched up for immediate use and which must have major repairs before they can be used safely. We have even learned how to make do with makeshift materials when the "right" ones are not available.

We have light equipment (hand tools and small power tools) which we can take with us.

We would need someone to furnish us with heavy equipment (such as bulldozers, cranes or dump trucks) when we arrive at the disaster area, but we are already well trained in their use.

Despite our abilities during my 18 years in the guard, my squadron has never been called to help out after a natural disaster.

Why not? I'm not really sure, but I suspect that the answer is quite simple and basic: The civilian planners probably do not know we exist. Somehow we need to get the word to those planners that we are ready, willing and able.

If the budget cuts don't get us, perhaps the civil engineering squadrons of the Air National Guard and Reserves can provide this country a real "peace dividend" by helping to relieve the suffering and speed up the recovery after a hurricane, tornado or earthquake.

A5 We're trained, we're ready and we'd like to help.

Lt. Col. Frank D. Sams


Horses and Jobs

Gov. Bill Clinton states that he will only give capital gains relief to "job-producing industries. . . . I don't want to give tax breaks to rich people who buy yachts and race horses." (The Sun, Sept. 9)

How could anyone running for president have such a lack of basic economic understanding? The people who build and care for boats, the people who raise and care for horses, the people who raise the feed and hay for the horses -- they all worry about their jobs, they pay taxes.

If Mr. Clinton wants to do away with the boating industry and the horse industry because only rich people own yachts and racehorses, he will throw hundreds of thousands of people out of work across this country.

In addition, as governor of Arkansas for 12 years, Mr. Clinton surely noticed how much state tax revenue was produced by the pari-mutuel tax on racing at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs?

Do you think Maryland, New York, California, Illinois, Michigan and other states have any way to replace the tax revenue they get from racing -- an industry that Mr. Clinton says doesn't produce jobs?

If the American people elect a candidate for president who obviously hasn't passed an economics course at the college

freshman level, heaven help this whole planet.

Cynthia R. McGinnes


Out of Bounds

Before we give Baltimore "the ball," perhaps we should give Baltimore some manners first.

As a long-term resident of the Memorial Stadium area, I was appalled by the behavior of many of the football fans before and after the Aug. 27 exhibition football game at the stadium.

They had no respect for the property or people who live in the area. They left trash and beverage containers everywhere, made racist and sexist comments to people on the street, urinated in shrubbery and against walls of houses, violated two-hour JTC residential parking limits (no citations were written, however) and were generally loud and obnoxious.

Is this behavior necessary to enjoy a sports event? This is not the first time I've witnessed such behavior before stadium events.

If this is typical of a Baltimore football fan, please give the ball to someone else.

Sally Daniel


Organ Donors

I'd like to respond to the op-ed piece "How About Economic Incentive for Organ Transplant Donors?," which ran in The Sun of Sept. 1.

The answer to increasing the number of donations in our country does not lie in offering economic incentives. Organ donations should be made to help others live -- not for profit.

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