Tag Archives: Natural Disasters

Man Finds His Fiancee Buried in Earthquake Rubble

A fiance’s love saved twenty-five-year-old teacher Gul Karacoban from dying under the rubble of a restaurant where she was eating when an earthquake struck eastern Turkey.

After eighteen hours under a mound of concrete and masonry, she was moved into an ambulance while paramedics assured her desperate fiancé she would be alright.

“All I want is for her to live, I don’t care if she injured or not. It doesn’t matter, I just want her alive,” air force Lieutenant Onur Eryasar said before climbing into the ambulance.

When the quake struck, Eryasar rushed from his base to the town sixty miles away to find Karacoban. By talking with her friends, he learned where she had gone to lunch.

Finding the restaurant, he shouted out her name. Hearing the voices of other people trapped in the collapsed building, he persuaded one of the rescue teams to begin digging. By late Monday morning, his perseverance was rewarded as the young woman was carried out, alive and conscious.

At least 239 people died in Sunday’s 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the cities of Van and Ercis. Hundreds more are feared dead and trapped beneath collapsed buildings.

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Social Worker Hurt Protecting Clients in Tornado Denied Workers’ Compensation

Aerial view of Downtown Joplin, MO, USA

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Mark Lindquist is a hero. The social worker nearly gave his life trying to save three developmentally disabled adults from the Joplin tornado. Both houses of the Missouri legislature honored him, the Senate calling him “a true hero and inspiration to others.”

The tornado’s 200 mph winds tossed Mr. Lindquist a block, broke every rib, obliterated his shoulder, knocked out most of his teeth, and put him in a coma for two months.

But heroism doesn’t pay the bills. Mr. Lindquist, 51, ran up medical expenses that exceed $2.5 million. He requires eleven daily prescriptions and will need more surgery.

Mr. Lindquist has no medical insurance. He couldn’t afford it on a job paying barely above minimum wage. He assumed workers’ compensation would cover his bills, but his claim was denied “based on the fact that there was no greater risk than the general public at the time you were involved in the Joplin tornado,” according to a letter from Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, his company’s workers’ comp provider.

That reasoning has angered Lindquist’s family, employer, and lawmakers. “I think they need to take another look at the circumstances and revisit the claim,” state Rep. Bill Lant (R-Joplin) said. “What he did went beyond heroics.”

Mr. Lindquist watched the skies darken on May 22 while on his way to the group home occupied by three men with Down syndrome. After he arrived, a tornado siren blared.

Mr. Lindquist’s employer had put workers through a tornado drill, so he and co-worker Ryan Tackett knew what to do. There was no basement or shelter, and the residents could not be relocated quickly, so Mr. Lindquist and Mr. Tackett placed mattresses over the men for protection, then climbed atop the mattresses for added weight.

The EF-5 tornado was among the nation’s worst ever. It destroyed more than 7,000 homes, including the group home, and killed 162 people. Among the dead were the three men Mr. Lindquist and Mr. Tackett tried to save.

“I loved them almost as much as I love my own kid,” he said.

After the storm, rescuers found Lindquist buried in rubble, impaled by a piece of metal. Bones from his shoulder crumbled as they placed him on a door used as a makeshift stretcher. He was later delivered to Freeman Hospital.

Mr. Lindquist’s sister, twelve-year-old son, and other relatives contacted every hospital within 100 miles searching for him. None of the unidentified matched his description.

His injuries were so severe that his slender, athletic body was unrecognizable. After three days, he was identified by tiny brown flecks in his hazel eyes.

Doctors told Mr. Lindquist’s sister that if he survived, it likely would be in a vegetative state. Even in a best-case scenario, he likely would be blind in one eye, never regain use of his right arm, and never speak or think normally.

Things got worse. Debris that got into the open sores caused a fungal infection. Mr. Lindquist overcame the fungus and was flown to a hospital in Columbia for a little over a month before being sent to a rehab center in Mount Vernon where he awakened.

Mr. Lindquist’s recovery amazed doctors. His right arm remains in a sling, but he has use of the hand. The eye that was temporarily blinded has full sight. He moves slowly and has short-term memory loss, but speaks well.

Mr. Lindquist’s sister said the insurance company’s decision is unfathomable because if her brother hadn’t been at work, he wouldn’t have been hurt. He also could have jumped in his van and driven away from the group home as the tornado approached.

Mr. Lindquist said that thought never crossed his mind. “I could have abandoned them to save myself, but I would never do that,” he said.

Mr. Lindquist’s boss said the agency has asked Accident Fund Insurance to reconsider Mr. Lindquist’s case.

After the tornado, 132 people filed workers’ compensation claims. Insurance companies denied only eight of the claims.

Since word of Lindquist’s plight spread, people around Joplin have pitched in, donating a few hundred dollars. Mr. Lindquist is touched by the kindness, even if it barely pays for the prescriptions, much less the medical costs.

Despite lingering pain, financial strain and uncertainty about whether he’ll work again, Mr. Lindquist sees good things happening in his life.

Earlier this year, Carolyn Stephenson Mckinlay contacted Mr. Lindquist. They met thirty years ago in Montana, where he was helping to build a water tower. After a brief courtship, they parted ways. Both married others, then divorced. Ms. Mckinlay found Mr. Lindquist on Facebook earlier this year, and the two decided to meet in Joplin. The tornado hit first, but she still came. He proposed in August, and they plan to wed.

All things considered, Mr. Lindquist says he’s a lucky man. “I’m a walking miracle,” he said.

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On This Day…

In 1938, a hurricane struck parts of New York and New England, causing widespread damage and claiming more than 600 lives.

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Paul: Famines Happen Because Africa Isn’t Capitalist Enough

Ron Paul, member of the United States House of...

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On Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul explained to CNN’s T.J. Holmes that famines in Africa are a result of a lack of “free market systems.”

“All I know is if you look at history and if you compare good medical care and you compare famine, the countries that are more socialistic have more famines,” Paul said. “If you look at Africa, they don’t have any free market systems and property rights and they have famines and no medical care. So the freer the system, the better the health care.”

Mr. Holmes also gave Rep. Paul a chance to respond to the controversy after the Tea Party audience at Monday night’s CNN/Tea Party presidential debate cheering the notion of an uninsured man being left to die.

“This whole idea that they world will not provide for people if you don’t depend on government — freedom provides more prosperity and better health care than all the socialism and welfarism in the world,” Paul said. “Nobody can compete with me about compassion because I know and understand how free markets and sound money and a sensible foreign policy is the most compassionate system ever known to mankind. So if you care about people you have to look to the freedom philosophy and limited government.”

Click here to see a video of Rep. Paul’s comments.

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With Roads Gone, Central Vermonters Come Together to Make Daily Hike Over the Mountain

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, central Vermonters found that large stretches of Route 4 were made impassable, stranding people in rural areas without road access to their jobs, schools, and grocery stores.

Necessity led those Vermonters who needed access to the far side of the mountain to find a half-mile forest path they could walk to get across the mountain. More than 1,000 people a day now walk the path between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. to get to their jobs and go food shopping on the other side.

The greater community has come together to help those who need daily passage to the other side of the mountain.

A1 Sewer and Drain donated Porta-Pottys to be placed at each end of the trail. Celebration Rentals supplied tent canopies, under which sit volunteers giving out sandwiches, beverages, doughnuts, and candy. Green Mountain National Gold Course has lent six golf carts to transport the elderly and infirm across the path. Central Vermont Motorcycles and the Hendy Brothers John Deere dealership have lent all-terrain vehicles that are used for safety patrols. John King, the owner of the Gramps Shuttle, has volunteered his vans to take students up and down the mountain to school and adults who don’t have rides at the end of the paths to their destinations.

Town officials hope to have passable roads in the next few weeks, before the first snow.

Even though the path is only a half-mile, for local schoolchildren, it is not an easy commute. Parents drive their children to a pickup area on Route 4, where the Gramps Shuttle van meets them and takes them to the path. There, parent volunteers walk the children through the woods. A small school bus picks up the children and takes them to Sherwood Drive, where a big bus waits to take them to school.

Via NYT.

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Japanese Retirees Volunteer to Clean Fukushima

The Skilled Veterans Corps for Fukushima consists of more than 500 seniors who have signed up to replace younger workers at the badly damaged nuclear plant. The retirees who have signed up for the job have been called courageous and suicidal.

The founder of Skilled Veterans is Yasuteru Yamada, 72. Yamada says he and his retired colleagues realized after the March 11 disaster that conditions at Fukushima were far bleaker than the government was admitting.

His decision to gather senior  volunteers was based on a realistic calculus: it is better to send people who have finished raising their families and are in the sunset of their lives and not younger workers whose lives could be cut short.

Yamada’s volunteers include former forklift operators, nuclear workers, translators, and a folk singer. They have (rightly) received much coverage around the world, but have been ignored by the Japanese media.

The Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power are still weighing the offer.

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Cantor Says No Disaster Relief without Spending Cuts

Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia

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Eric Cantor is making waves in Washington by insisting that any federal aid to the victims of Hurricane Irene be offset by cuts in other spending.

Cantor’s critics are not just accusing him of being stingy; they’re accusing him of being a hypocrite. In 2004, when his home state of Virginia was struck by Tropical Storm Gaston, Cantor voted against a bill that would have required exactly the same kind of pay-as-you-go scheme he is now advocating.

Hypocrisy and heartlessness aside, it is an economic tenet that temporary spending bursts which can arises after natural disasters are good reasons to run temporary budget deficits. Thus, Cantor’s claim that fiscal responsibility requires spending cuts to offset the cost of disaster relief is wrong.

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NYC Evacuation Order Will Be Lifted

Republican backed nominee Michael Bloomberg

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced that the evacuation order for low-lying parts of New York City will be lifted at 3:00 p.m. today. The order was put in pace as the city braced for the worst of Hurricane Irene.

As it turned out, Irene’s impact with North Carolina weakened the storm, and it never regained its strength.

So far, at least fifteen people in six states have died as a result of Hurricane Irene.

The storm is currently heading northeast toward New England with sixty mile per hour winds.

Much of New Jersey is flooded, and the governor has recommended that people in that state not leave their homes. Additionally, flooding in New York City is threatening the city’s underground electrical infrastructure.

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Irene Postpones MLK Memorial Dedication

3. Martin Luther King, Jr., a civil rights act...
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Sunday’s dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C., has been postponed because of Hurricane Irene.

Six governors have declared states of emergency as the storm tracks north toward the United States’ Eastern Seaboard.

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Americans Are Increasingly Relying on Food Stamps

Seal of the United States Department of Agricu...

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There are almost 46 million people, or roughly 15% of the population, in the United States on food stamps. That figure represents an increase of 74% since 2007, just before the financial crisis and recession that led to mass job loss.

The cost of the program has also doubled to $68 billion, more than a third of the amount the government received in corporate income tax last year.

About 40% of food stamp recipients are in households in which at least one member of the family earns wages. The government estimates that one in three people who are eligible for the food stamp program are not in it.

A family of four can receive food stamps worth $668 a month. They can only be used to buy non-prepared food and seeds and plants to grow food.

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have proposed changing the food stamp program so the funding is through “block grants” to the states, and not allowing it to grow when needed due to an emergency such as a natural disaster.

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