Get the Government Out of My Flooded House!!

November 2, 2012 at 10:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Well, as the clean-up from SuperStorm Sandy progresses, some Americans seem less opposed to government intervention than they used to be. Residents of Staten Island, the only Republican leaning borough of New York City, are outraged that help is not coming to them faster. Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey (who sounds for all the world like my Philadelphia working-class relatives) is actually grateful to President Obama for acting quickly.

On Wednesday, October 31, my Congresswoman, Yvette Clarke, sent out an email about government services available in the light of Hurricane Sandy:

FEMA : Federal Emergency Management Agency. Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in designated counties can begin applying for assistance by registering online, or at a toll-free number 7am to 10pm seven days a week.

TRANSPORTATION: The states of NY and RI have access to $13 million in quick-release emergency funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the first installment of Federal Highway Administration funds to help begin repairing roads, bridges and tunnels. The Federal Transit Administration will send experts to offices established by FEMA to provide guidance in damage assessment and recovery, and to direct transit agencies to available federal assistance programs. The FAA Air Traffic System Command Center is maintaining constant communication with airlines, the military, business aviation, and airports affected by the storm, all of whom will advise the FAA about flight schedules and plans to resume operations into affected areas. .

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and FEMA activated ambulance contracts to support state requirements to evacuate patients as needed and requested.  HHS has personnel deployed in support of state response efforts, including two 50-person Disaster Medical Assistance Teams providing triage and basic care in shelters in NJ. HHS also has personnel supporting 350 ambulances in New York that were activated through FEMA’s ambulance contracts. An additional Disaster Medical Assistance Team remains pre-staged in the mid-Atlantic, prepared to deploy quickly along the East Coast if needed.

NATIONAL BUSINESS EMERGENCY OPERATION CENTER: FEMA activated. More than 330 representatives from retail, transportation, food and groceries, building management, and other industries receive daily briefings on key federal response efforts. These briefings assist in federal and private sector planning efforts, and provide a forum to discuss response efforts and challenges that may arise for maintaining business operations.

HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is coordinating with FEMA and affected states to identify housing providers who may have available housing units, including public housing agencies and multi-family owners. HUD is also speeding federal disaster assistance to NY and NJ to provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes in the most heavily impacted areas. The President’s major disaster declarations for NY and NJ allow HUD to offer foreclosure relief and other assistance to some families in the designated counties. HUD has granted a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and forbearances of  (FHA)-insured home mortgages.

AGRICULTURE: TheUS Department of Agriculture regional Food and Nutrition Service leadership is working with state commissioners and program administrators to meet food needs for emergency shelters and feeding sites and to assist with Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) requests.

Republicans, by and large, think that the free market will take care of problems like old age and Hurricane Sandy. In 2005, President George W. Bush introduced a major initiative to privatize personal Social Security accounts and to permit Americans to divert a portion of their Social Security tax (FICA) into investments. When the economy collapsed in 2008, a lot of us, for whom Social Security is a significant portion of our incomes, were grateful that Congress had ditched that idea.

Then, in 2011, during one of the debates in the presidential primaries, Mitt Romney called for the privatization of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the agency at the center of government response to Sandy. You can see him arguing that position here. I imagine he will be holding a press conference later today claiming that that was not what he meant.

The question is, will we Americans, with our notoriously short attention spans, be able to forget, between now and next Tuesday, the role the federal government is playing in the recovery from SuperStorm Sandy? 



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  1. Marian, What a good commentary on the storm..thanks for the information. I’m glad you are well – and that you had a good trip to France. I enjoyed looking through your blogs, you write well, and it’s very interesting. I come across it at times, but am not much on the computer lately. Take care and keep up the good work! Alexa


    • Thanks so much, Alexa. Hope to see you one of these days!

      Sent from my iPad


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