As the flood waters began to rise in South Carolina, so did the level of awareness that the vast majority of South Carolinians were wholly unprepared for such a disaster. But local governments have also proven themselves unprepared, poorly prioritized, and inept at dealing with the destruction left by a historic amount of rainfall over the Palmetto state.
As the flood crisis got under way, South Carolina saw its major cities inundated with so much water that city centers were unnavigable without a boat, coastal areas saw houses collapse, and both city and rural areas saw roads wash out completely. With dams bursting and bridges washing away, local governments, citizens, and emergency management personnel clearly had their hands full. Most of them, to their credit, did their jobs well enough with the resources they had.
However, as has now become typical, local governments immediately began racing the flood waters to see which could become the greatest threat to the people of South Carolina.
While the waters were by far the greatest danger to the lives of South Carolinians, there was another threat looming over South Carolina that will have much more long-lasting effects than the flood. While water has no concern for citizens’ rights, it is unfortunate that neither do many local South Carolina governments who began imposing “curfews” and “mandatory evacuations” in the midst of the crisis.
To be clear, those who decided to joy ride in the midst of the flood were taking chances with their lives. Yet, local government imposition of curfews is a drastic response to the threat of individual citizens endangering themselves. An individual has a right to travel, regardless of the weather or threat that is posed to their own lives by the act of traveling. Local governments in South Carolina, however, seem to think that the right to travel is subject to suspension when in conflict with the wishes of said government and emergency personnel.
The argument, of course, is that by traveling, the citizen is endangering the lives of emergency personnel if the citizen finds himself in a situation from which he needs to be rescued. This argument eliminates both the right and the choice, as well as the possible necessity, of travel from the citizen, and is based squarely upon the idea that the convenience and responsibilities of emergency personnel outweigh the right of the citizen. They do not.
Emergency personnel are just what the name implies – emergency personnel. They are not designed to be fair weather friends but individuals who respond in an emergency situation. It is precisely in situations such as this that emergency personnel are needed the most and precisely when they earn their money. Emergency personnel, in instances such as these, might very well be asked to risk their lives; but risking their lives is what emergency personnel are supposed to do in emergency situations, not launch a clampdown on rights to ensure their own safety.
“Curfews” are to be placed upon children by parents, not upon citizens by government.
To be fair, if there is a situation in which it has become so untenable to launch rescue missions that the lives of emergency personnel are at stake due to the poor choices of citizens who refuse to act in an appropriate manner during an emergency, the proper response would be one of education and warning, complete with a subsequent leaving of the citizen to the repercussions of his own choices. Informing citizens that, as of a certain time, there will be no more rescues conducted in a certain area if the rescues are a result of travel, etc. is by no means the ideal but are an available option. The restriction of travel is not. Let the citizen live with his choices.
Likewise, such is the case regarding the many instances of “mandatory evacuations” implemented across the state of South Carolina during this recent crisis. While offers of assistance to evacuate and warnings that evacuation is necessary are most certainly appropriate, the force or “compulsion” to leave by authorities is not only wrong, it is unconstitutional. Yet this is exactly what has happened all across the state.
For instance, in Florence county, the Florence County Council met in an emergency session and voted to implement a resolution that allowed the Sheriff’s Department, Florence County Emergency Management personnel, and Florence administration to force individuals from their homes in a number of locations due to flood waters.
Florence County Council directs that the Director of Emergency Management, the Florence County Administration and Sheriff of Florence County are authorized to implement the directives of this Proclamation and enforce the State of Emergency procedures; and
The authorized individuals are directed and given the authority to compel evacuation of all of part of the population from any stricken or threatened area in Florence County, if such action is deemed necessary for the preservation of life
Further, to authorize the Director of Emergency Management, the Florence County Administrator and Sheriff of Florence County to impose a curfew from 7 p.m. until sunrise for non-emergency activities should they deem necessary, until the Proclamation is rescinded.
A reasonable response would have been to declare an evacuation effort – anyone who wants to leave should be able, anyone who wants to stay, can stay, but the rescue party will not be back for those who choose to stay behind. Anything further than that is a violation of constitutional rights.
It is worth noting that, while the Florence County Council can meet in secret in an emergency session to restrict the rights (the most basic right to be secure in your home) of the people of Florence county, the Florence County Council was wholly incapable of meeting ahead of time, when all South Carolinians were aware of the impending danger, to assure the cleaning of storm drainers and roadside gutters, a project that was largely untouched and undoubtedly contributed to the massive amounts of water standing in Florence.
Perhaps next time Florence faces an impending disaster, the county council will be so kind as to engage in rational preparation as opposed to the evisceration of rights.
While this writer does not want to exaggerate the levels to which the police state was implemented in the state of South Carolina or the extent of the damage caused by the floods (nowhere near Katrina and New Orleans on either account) we cannot simply ignore “small” violations of rights where they exist, even in an emergency situation. The growing power of the police state under the guise of “emergency management” is in clear view. Citizens may try rationalize the violation of rights under arguments of expediency, emergency measures, or simply Stockholm Syndrome but rights are still being violated nonetheless.
If rights are not protected, even in the event of an emergency, they will eventually be violated in peace time. Indeed, if we allow rights to be violated under the guise of an emergency, we will soon find ourselves living under a perpetual crisis.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 500 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.