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So many evacuees from the Gulf Coast hurricane have taken refuge here in New Mexico that President Bush today declared a Federal emergency.  The state's resources have been severely stretched (we're one of the poorest states in the nation), although Governor Richardson has vowed to help the victims of Katrina whatever the cost.

The declaration of an emergency means that the Federal government will reimburse New Mexico 100% of the costs of assisting hurricane refugees.  Everywhere you go in Albuquerque, it seems as if there are food and clothing drives — the local governments and relief agencies are urging that these be shut down as many people are using those bins as an excuse to discard their unwanted garbage.  Cash is desperately needed to replace the donated trash with items the victims can actually use.  My complex is one of many who are giving free apartments to the evacuees as the space at the Convention Center and area hotels are rapidly filling to overflowing capacity.

And already you are seeing protests on the news by local homeless or unemployed people saying that the hurricane refugees are taking over their shelters and job prospects, that the city is pushing aside their own to help "outsiders."  What you see on a day-to-day basis are alternating examples of the goodness and the nastiness that exists in humankind.  You applaud at someone's genorisity one moment and are appalled at someone else's lack of compassion the next.

It seems like it will only get worse before it gets better.

I'm glad I'm going to be traveling next week so I can escape from the depressing news for a short time at least.