Will it be the oatmeal box heard ’round the world?
I’m referring to media kits sent recently to the nation’s major news outlets with hopes of drumming up interest in Cedar Rapids’ continued struggle to recover from the flood of 2008.
Inside a familiar cylindrical Quaker oatmeal box with a Cedar Rapids Flood Story label, local public relations pros stuffed a book filled with story ideas, brochures, a small USB computer flash drive with flood videos, a Quaker snack bar and a box of soy milk to wash it down. Just think what those oats might do.
It sounds a bit gimmicky. But maybe that’s what it takes to get attention in our perpetually distracted 24-hour news cycle of a world. And soy milk is packed with B vitamins, which are wellknown to enhance empathy. You can look it up.
I understand the impulse. There’s a strong feeling around here that our story has been forgotten out there, and that’s part of the reason the federal government has been so slow to send the bucks we desperately still need.
If we can get some media attention tied to the flood anniversary next month, maybe Washington will take notice. If “Good Morning America” shows up, maybe some good money for flooded Middle America also will arrive. If nothing else, the publicity might be a good shot in the arm for weary folks and a chance to show the world that we’re still alive and fighting.
Still, the fact that we even have to do this, that we have to send out oatmeal boxes and hope against hope that we’ll catch our leaders’ attention, is maddening.
It’s evidence of just how screwed up Washington is. That’s the big story.
It’s fine to toot our horn, but we also should band together with other disaster-affected communities across the country. We need to raise a coordinated national chorus of discontent over the frustrating reality facing all of us — when it comes to long-term recovery needs, the federal government still doesn’t get it.
There’s no good reason why struggling Americans in one part of the country should be forced to compete against hurting Americans in another region for federal resources. Stricken communities should not feel the need to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire lobbyists just to plead their cases.
Instead of an efficient, responsive system, we get an ill-fitting, politicized bureaucratic hodgepodge.
We’re not crying for a handout or a bailout. We simply want promises made to be promises swiftly kept.
The fact that it’s not fixed years after Katrina is hard to swallow. Even with soy milk.