Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Sandy: Did you see your Government at work?
We watched courageous Coast Guard crews perform amazing at-sea helicopter rescues of crew members from a sinking ship. We saw National Guard troops, first responders - police officers and fire fighters, nurses, and civil servants all at work for the needs of their fellow men and women. The Army Corps of Engineers is being called in to help deal with flooded subway tunnels and other water inundated areas. Amazingly, in New York City, we also saw an horrendous fire destroy more than 100 homes in a area so flooded that firefighters could not drive in, so they waded in to fight the fire with equipment they carried on their backs. We saw nurses, doctors and other rescuers in a powerless hospital individually carry babies and patients down several flights of stairs along with respirators, IVs and other equipment to waiting ambulances which transported them to other hospitals which had power. New York's Gov. Cuomo mentioned that it was only 15 months since the last aberrant hurricane (Irene) seriously impacted New York and New Jersey. Several commentators have noted that many East Coast shorelines have been permanently reconfigured by this storm. Some towns may not be able to be rebuilt along the coast. Certainly much infrastructure will require rebuilding in many communities. Disasters should not be politicized and I join with President Obama who visited the DC Red Cross headquarters today and asked for people to send contributions for disaster relief to them. My heart goes out to the families who are suffering from this devastation and to those who are working to restore services. But I hope that you can also agree with me that we have also seen much of what has long been great about America. Many of us do care about each other and step up to help out when trouble comes calling. But I cannot help but also point out how events such as this demonstrate the necessity of a knowledgeable federal and coordinated interstate response to disasters. It also showcases how the civil servants who have been so much maligned as unnecessary freeloaders feeding at the public trough – step up selflessly and serve their communities. The nurses, first responders, highway and subway workers among others, have a massive job to do in any disaster but they do it, because that is their calling or their duty. Romney has famously said he would block grant FEMA money because states should choose how to spend their money. His current response has been to collect canned goods and water which is not what is needed as any disaster worker will tell you. They need to use their bulk deliveries of goods and collect monies to meet local needs. Romney has said that the private sector should get funding diverted from FEMA. We should not borrow money to meet this need. Several reporters tried to get this answer clarified from Candidate Romney without success. I am gratified that we have the vast resources of the Federal Government to draw on when disaster hits. I see Government as a positive force in our lives. What do you think? Let me know with a comment.