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Every now and then humans are reminded that the forces of Mother Nature are immense. Such was the case with Hurricane Sandy. It extended from Florida to Connecticut impacting the entire American Atlantic seaboard. It interrupted all human activity. It destroyed many homes, roads, electric power distribution systems, etc. Incredibly, not many lives were lost, however the aggregate cost of destruction is estimated at $50 billion and rising.
It is a good thing that Presidential Candidate Romney had no opportunity to ‘privatize’ emergency response efforts nor had he an opportunity to make it a responsibility of the several states. A smaller federal government would not have been able to cope with the extensive “Sandy” destruction.
It was the correct decision when President Obama suspended all political campaign activities in order to focus upon the needs of the peoples impacted by Hurricane Sandy. New York City’s subway system was shut down by flooding; individual families who lost everything (homes, personal property, and could not work to ensure an income) were the proper focus of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) which was rebuilt by the Obama Administration beginning in 2008 after the former Republican Bush Administration had placed it in the hands of an amateurish inexperienced cronies. Victims of Katrina were not properly aided by the ‘Bush FEMA’. In contrast, the Obama Administration had appointed experienced professionals who had done their jobs. FEMA was effectively activated and put to work by President Obama immediately after ‘Sandy’ happened. Our hearts, prayers and sympathies go out to the multitude of victims, many of whom need food, potable water, shelter, electric power, and fuel, especially gasoline.
Many victims do not understand that it takes time to re-establish communications and transportation systems (roads & bridges, airports), electric power grids, and supply distributions systems. And, it is very important to provide for funding allocations to assist local jurisdictions (States, counties, municipalities, public utilities, health care and school districts) in coping with the sudden unexpected expenses of ‘getting back to normal’. With the onset of winter weather, warm clothing and shelter is urgently required. The Red Cross, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Episcopal Church Relief Fund, and many other community charities will have their emergency resources exhausted very quickly because of the immense volume of human needs.
The only ‘good’ outcome of this destructive mega storm is that the construction industry and its labor force will now have much work to do when restoring infrastructure services, repairing and rebuilding homes, factories and businesses. Hopefully, the Republican ideologues will relent and become reasonable when making required approvals for emergency funding. These folks need to understand that BIG Government is not the enemy, but rather cronyism, favoritism, and greedy profiteering are totally inappropriate during these times of crisis. What is critical is the efficient, effective distribution of required emergency assistance.
Ultimately, the American taxpayer will be responsible for the funds needed to pay for all required FEMA emergency activities. It will be necessary for corporations as ‘individuals’ (per recent Supreme Court decision) to pay their fair share of taxes needed to re-establish and operate communication and transportation systems so essential and necessary for the conduct of commerce. And Congress must act quickly to close all corporate welfare loopholes NOW. The American taxpayer must insist that corporations pay their fair share of taxes used to support the infrastructure services used in the conduct of their profitable businesses.
What can we learn from this disastrous event? First and foremost, individuals need to plan for and prepare for disasters that can and will happen locally. It may be the next ‘1906 Earthquake’ event, wildfire, or Sacramento Delta levee failure. Individuals are advised to review their personal disaster plans especially pre-planning personal agreements to ‘check in on neighbors’, providing for seven days of water supplies, three days of food supplies, and the location of probable emergency shelters. Plans must be formulated to minimize people’s pain and suffering.
Congregations are advised to set up phone trees to check in on the status of their parishioners; plan for and establish communications systems, plan for use of their parish halls and kitchens to feed hungry victims. Also, know about the emergency plans and resources available from the County; local cities, medical facilities, police (or sheriff), and fire departments. Remember that your taxes paid for the emergency planning by these local jurisdictions which need to address the emergency needs of all residents fairly and equitably. All these are aftermaths of Hurricane Sandy.