F.E.M.A. – Political Porkbarrel

by Karyn Albano

Hurricane Sandy devastationAccording to a snarky MSNBC commentator, Mitt Romney would “dismantle FEMA” and she questioned whether he still felt that way in light of the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy. Even though Romney has NEVER stated that he would “do away” with F.E.M.A. (The Federal Emergency Management Agency), their reaction to this storm may not be the best argument in favor of keeping it. While I agree that we need a federal safety net to handle large scale disasters that local and state governments cannot handle without more support, would anyone try to argue that there is a disaster on that scale every day and a half in our country? In 2011, there have been 156 instances of “federal disasters” under the Obama administration, about one every day and a half. Contrast that with 1980 (F.E.M.A.’s first full year) when there were just 28 such instances and the number grew every year in-between.

The point is, once created a bureaucracy will increasingly try to justify its own existence and growth by manipulating numbers and increasing classifications such as “federal disaster areas”. But the bottom line is, does this agency live up to its promise in times of crisis? Lets compare the response of F.E.M.A. to the response of private entities and state and local governments.

My own personal experience with natural disaster came in 1972 (pre F.E.M.A.) when Hurricane Agnes took a left turn from the mid-Atlantic (much like Sandy did this past week) and destroyed my hometown of Wilkes-Barre, PA with floodwaters. This truly was a 100-year incident and our family’s home was gone and most of our friends and neighbors were in the same predictament. Again, there was no F.E.M.A. at that time, so what happened? Did we all starve? Did we just leave and give up on our town? Actually, quite the opposite happened.

I was very young when this happened, but I recall the National Guard coming in to help clean up debris and the Red Cross setting up donation tents and shelters for people who had no where else to go. I remember picking through donated clothes and toys and being allowed to take what I needed while my parents and grandparents got food supplies and assistance with a H.U.D. trailer to park on our land until we could get more permanent housing. It was a horrible experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but we got through it all. Of course we had governent help as well as the help of the Red Cross and Salvation Army, but the point is that we didn’t have the big bloat of F.E.M.A. sucking up resources in the name of helping before they could even send a single thing to actually help.

Who is providing the relief now? Is it F.E.M.A.? Home Depot made a plan to deal with the storm and upcoming demand for products people in the storm area would need. While they were in their ready room moving supplies into stores that needed them, where was F.E.M.A.? The day after Sandy hit, where was F.E.M.A.? If it is their job to provide support after a natural disaster, where was it? Does support consist of surveying the damage and saying, “call me and let me know ho things are going and tell me what you need” or does it mean that you DO something like provide the National guard and mitilary resources to get roads open so help can get where it is needed – help with search and rescue and recovery operations so that people arent shocked to learn 3 days after an event like this that over 20 people died on Staten Island and thousands are homeless and so desperate for food and water that they are dumpster diving.

So while the Obama sycophants in the media are trying to politically calculate how a comment in a debate might damage Mitt Romney, think about it: This is America. We have plenty to give these storm victims and plenty of people and organizations willing and able to help. All they need is for the red tape brigade to get the hell out of the way if they aren’t going to help. Photo-ops and saying that you are doing a great job is not productive. You don’t get a trophy for just showing up and “voting present” in situations like these.

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