Friday, November 02, 2012

The Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New York – Why Wasn’t the majority of the East Coast Prepared, and why weren’t Individual Prepared? The Economy, Failure at the Federal Level and No Self-Reliance.

In reading the heartbreaking articles and looking at videos of the aftermath of “Sandy” in New Jersey and New York, one must understand that there were several factors involved in the resulting chaos – including extreme food shortages as well as loss of fuel that will continue through this weekend and possibly into next week in many of the affected areas. I have read comments under articles describing individuals going through extreme hardship, and those comments are callous to the extreme. There are those who have lived through a natural disaster with some comfort because they were prepared well in advance, and that is a growing group of Americans. Call them “preppers”, or survivalists, or in some cases, just people that have been through a several day blackout, learned what to do or not to do and are now more vigilant. In answer to the question: why weren’t New Yorkers’ and those in Connecticut and New Jersey prepared for this type of event? There are multiple answers. The least discussed is the absolute failure of the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Service to adequately name the storm a “hurricane” – in technical jargon, it was called a “nor’easter, or a Franken-storm (due to the hybrid nature of a hurricane far north meeting with a nor’easter. This led forecasters on the local level, to be a bit more at-ease that they should have been, and by the time the realization that a massive hurricane/nor’easter was hours away, there was no time to take action. Yes, there were mandatory evacuations of those areas of New York and the Jersey Coastline, a day or two before the storm hit. It appeared that those governors, mayors and emergency management teams understood that something significant would occur – but there was no plan in place to accommodate this type of disaster.

The question as to why weren’t people able to fend for themselves comes up a great deal – especially regarding the people in New York City. It is really simple to point a finger at those who are scrambling to find food, or simply did not leave the city or move inland to get out of the way, when one forgets or has not experience the severity of this type of storm hitting such a large populated area. First, the majority were under the impression that this was a nor’easter, maybe a bit bigger, but nothing that would cause the lights to go out for over a week. After living through the October Blizzard in New England, one might have taken stock of things one needed to have on hand if one wanted to be “moderately comfortable”, but there was much that was learned after the fact: Fill up your car with gas, have adequate water on hand for a week at the least, for you, and your pets, the same goes for food that may not have to be cooked, have a second place to go in case you have to leave your home. What doesn’t work when the power goes down? Everything, there are no ATM’s to get cash, you cannot use a debit card, or credit card, the gas pumps shut down and the demand goes up once the power comes back on. One or two gas stations with power in an area without power, cannot accommodate the demand, and quickly run out of gas. That said, the October Storm took place in New England, were the population is possibly combined the size of New York City.

Individuals were, in all likelihood, financially ill equipped to purchase food, and or even the transportation to get out of the City and pay for alternative shelter.

To those who feel that people from New York and New Jersey should have known better, or somehow have been better prepared, should think about the first time they were hit by this type of disaster. They may have been ready (which is not the norm), or they may have learned by facing some hardships what to do the next time.

There is the final problem that we face - and that is reliance on government – yes, we should have protection from our Federal and State Governments, especially in the aftermath, the government is supported by taxpayers, so clean-up and keeping the peace should be their primary obligation. As to who “helps” those who are stuck, without food, water or power, that should be the local level and the able bodied individual's responsibility. Those that assume the Government will take care of them, need to be told the truth, and the simple truth is – “you’re on your own “.

Therefore, in every neighborhood, in every schoolroom, there in every state there should be an awareness, either through schools, or churches or neighborhood groups regarding how to prepare in the event o f a disruptions of services – in advance. There is no need to be in a constant state of heightened anxiety in the “event” of a storm, or other scenario -some of which may be so beyond our comprehension that any preparedness would be in vein (that in a moment). It is the simple things, with the communications we enjoy in today’s society that every single individual should be able to fend for themselves, be tended to because a neighbor has their back, and in the long run to survive and start rebuilding before relying in local services, let alone the State Government (which is responsible) the Federal Government should be the last resort.

Why not has the Federal Government take care of everything? New York City is asking the Fed’s to foot the entire bill for this disaster. Apparently Mayor Bloomberg has no clue as to the fact that the Fed is so deep in debt, they cannot afford to help. He should be asking his very capable Governor, what to do next. Actually he should have has his own plan in place to cope with exactly this type of nightmare scenario. The Federal Government is, simply put running out of money, we can print more, but in the long run, it is a question of how much can the Fed stretch what does not exist?

To Recap: The Federal Government failed in not portraying the storm as a hurricane, and warning residents to prepare for this event days in advance. The economy , in most instances, prevented individuals from buying supplies and/or transportation that would have been a drain on most families, in any event, and the over reliance on “government” in this country, rather than reliance on self must change.

What happens next? That’s the question. The what-if’s are huge, and what this blogger recalls from stories her grandmother told about life in New England in the 1930’s through the 1950’s would be a horror story today. Storms of this magnitude, both snow and rain were more common in certain periods, additionally there were more frequent earthquakes in the northeast , without knowing where the center of the quake was located, those in lower Massachusetts saw large trees split in two. She was not the type to exaggerate, but she did preach self-reliance and the fact that we lived in a free nation, and were not subject to a tyrannical government. In other words, we are allowed to take care of ourselves, in case the government neither cares, or is incompetent, or ill-equipped.

What that illustrates is that those who do not look at the past are, in almost every case, with few exceptions, we are bound to repeat it, at some time in the future.

With New England and the northeast, the future is now. But what of California and the eventual shift if the earth’s surface that may see half of the state destroyed – are Californian’s ready? Does anyone believe that those living in Los Angeles or San Francisco are prepared to survive in the event? Does one seriously believe that “the government” can’t reach them to bail them out? This is not paranoia, this is just pragmatic, and should apply to every areas of the nation that is either prone to extreme weather events, even if one has not taken place in 100 years, there are simply no “freak “events when it comes to the nature of earth science. This would eliminate, in part, the suffering that is taking place along the east coast now, and will help those who will suffer in the future. People should understand, no matter one’s background, that they must first rely on themselves, and that they must rely on their neighbors during a time of crisis. They should understand what needs to be on hand, and what steps one can take in order to try and survive a hurricane, earthquake, tornado or blizzard. It is education that will help the public and not only those that are so reliant on the governments, from the local level to the Federal , but anyone who has never faced nor excepts to face this type of event. We should have a nation of girl scouts and boy scouts – we did at one time.

In the meantime, give what you can to aid those in need, to alleviate suffering:

Catholic Relief Services

Food Bank for New York City

Operation USA

The Salvation Army

Best Friends Animal Society

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