Laguna Beach shows its heart

This is, indeed, a city with a heart.

After sustaining our own disaster just over three months ago, and

mounting extraordinary efforts to help some dozen families left

homeless, Lagunans are now leaping to assist the victims of Hurricane


From children to adults, animal control workers to restaurateurs,

locals are doing everything they can -- bake sales, concerts, even

food convoys with portable kitchens -- to help those who lost not

just their homes but their jobs, schools, and entire neighborhoods to

this mega-disaster.

Despite the differences in size and scope of the disaster, there

are some similarities.

Both are natural disasters where only the forces of nature can be


And there's the ineffective response of the Federal Emergency

Management Agency, FEMA, which left Laguna in the lurch just as it

failed to respond effectively to Hurricane Katrina.

While FEMA had responded with sterling success to several big

hurricane disasters in the 1990s, this time the agency failed

miserably and left thousands to fend for themselves during the worst

disaster of our time.

Ironically, just as Laguna was coming to grips with the failure of

the agency to come to the city's aid in the relatively small-scale

disaster here -- with city officials even now desperately trying to

come up with various ways to raise emergency cash -- Hurricane

Katrina was proving FEMA's shortfalls here to be unmistakable in the

Gulf Coast.

Now that the agency has a new head, perhaps Laguna can again have

hope that disaster relief will be forthcoming -- if there is anything

left in the government's coffers after the billions that will be

needed to restore and repair the Gulf Coast states.

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