Heat Wave 2006 Special Report: Did The Government Do Enough To Protect Public From The Sun?
In the aftermath of the 2006 heat wave that left gigantic swaths of the Midwest and Southeastern United States under inhospitable conditions for much of the summer months, many analysts are questioning the nation's capacity to respond to such widespread discomfort.
The inability of the federal government to help citizens trapped in hot apartments, or those forced to jog outdoors for exercise during oppressive heat, has sparked an outcry that has officials reeling.
"We demand to know why the government was so slow when it had plenty of advance warning that a warm front would be moving across the central plains with thousands of citizens trapped in their homes without central air or even window units," insisted Omaha resident Mavis Kutchman. "It is a blunder of the most egregious kind, and this government will never have the respect of its people until it finds a way to protect them from mankind's number one enemy: the life-giving sun."
Experts have questioned the decision of the government to withhold from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funding that was to have gone towards the construction of a retractable dome to cover the areas hardest hit by the balmy conditions. "Poor engineering and lack of foresight" have been blamed for the deaths and sticky armpits resulting from above-90-degree temperatures that residents from Denver to Chicago to Boston had to endure for up to two weeks.
"I can understand why the levees in New Orleans broke -- because no one planned on them ever having to actually hold back the storm event they were supposedly designed for," said forensic engineer Raymond Plymester to a study team assembled to research the government's response to near 100% humidity and high temperatures. "Granted, [the levees] were shoddily made, but a category 3 hurricane isn't the easiest thing to anticipate. What is predictable, however, is that summer in the Midwest is going to be hot as balls, and government inaction is reprehensible."
Plymester went on to share his personal story with the team. There was nary a dry eye in the room once he finished his harrowing tale of being trapped in Sears in an attempt to purchase for his elderly mother the perfect window unit that would not only save her, but be the best deal in the long run. His mother, who had been trapped in her house for days with only a window fan and a leaky faucet to keep her cool, had nearly resorted to making some iced tea to survive before her son heroically arrived and installed the air conditioner that would save her from spending afternoons watching A&E in abject humidity.
"My mother was one of the lucky ones," continued Plymester, "but the until the government guarantees every citizen's right to a Kenmore window unit, they had better assemble a contingency plan, which is why my colleagues and I recommend converting Cheyenne Mountain into a gigantic air conditioner to keep America cool in the hottest summer months when the poor and elderly are at their most vulnerable."
Not only experts, but also regular citizens have recognized the need for the government to put into place sun-reducing measures by the time the hottest part of the summer rolls around next year.
"Oh god, it's so hot out here, it's just impossible to leave the house almost dying," lamented Betsy Pilsen, 36. "First FEMA is slow to aid those hurricane victims, and even now they’re still dragging their feet over these horrible conditions. Am I supposed to walk all the way to Starbucks to get my iced latte? What do I pay my taxes for? Next summer better not be this bad, or I'm moving to Canada."
Many have been pressuring the government for years into taking action against the sun to stem the rising tide of sunburn and halt incidences of sun-caused blindness.
"There needs to be a warning label affixed to the atmosphere to somehow warn children that starting at the sun for too long will hurt their eyes," said consumer advocate Ryan Hisman. "Statistics have proven that finger-burning incidents amongst 1-4 year-olds have decreased dramatically since GE put in bold letters on each of its surface units 'Caution: Hot Stove Not Intended For Children 4 Years Or Younger.' To curb the growing number of preventable sun-related injuries, the government needs to project into the sky an appropriate warning so that whenever someone unwittingly goes outside to pick up the paper or glance at a jet flying overhead, they must look away immediately to avoid permanent retina damage."
Hisman stated that unless every child be given the chance to live in this world without the threat of the sun somehow hurting him or her, it would be better for the government to divert the sun's rays from the earth completely until a solution can be found.