Sunday, 4 November 2012

Rescue Yourself

There are folks in Staten Island, plus along the shoreline of New York and New Jersey....who are mad, hurt and angry.  They expected someone to come.  They got some political folks to come down for photo chances, and the electrical crews have been out doing some work.  But it's just not the rescue they expected.

Here's the historical backdrop against rescue in America.  Up until June of 1889....if you suffered from a hurricane or flood.....no one came to rescue or help you, period.  As the Jamestown flood occurred in Pennsylvania.....things changed.

As the word got out, over the next week or two....hundreds of wagons fanned out and headed toward Jamestown.  These volunteers....not the US government....bought blankets and food.  Churches had swung into action and committed their entire congregation to a massive effort.  Local clubs in the region dedicated themselves for the next month or two....bringing in food and helping the locals who did survive the flood.

To some extent, it wasn't until the spring flood of 1927 along the Mississippi River....that government rescue started to occur....under Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover.  The newspapers carried big columns of the efforts involved.  Camps were set up, with tent-cities and mobile kitchens were set up to help those displaced by the floods.  There wasn't any FEMA or emergency centers existing within the federal government....whatever Hoover arranged....was just a spur of the moment thought on how to handle the mess with a engineer in charge of rescue.

As you get into the 1960s and 1970s....with hurricane activity now a regular thing in Florida....the US government finally begins to organize, plan and is able to execute some simple operations.

You have a hurricane....the locals keep you going for three or four days, then the fed help shows up.  The National Guard did their part.  Drinking water was handed out.  Ice was made available.  The government would get AT&T to set up a phone bank.  Food got passed out.  Folks got used to a standardized response in Florida.  They knew what to expect.

As Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans....a bunch of folks wake up, and had never thought about how they'd survive.  They figured that the FEMA folks would be there on day one.  As the days passed by....it was obvious that public had one imaginary belief guiding them....allowing the media to film their dismay, and the US government looked like idiots.  A massive active duty Army force got called into the mess, and created a one-of-a-kind rescue.  But the deal was simple.....you wouldn't stay in New Orleans ...you had to evacuate and leave the city, which was what you were told to do forty-eight hours before the storm.

In the aftermath of Katrina expectations....FEMA bought thousands of mobile homes and RV trailers.  The RV trailers would be later examined and found with toxic gases....which wound up in court.  The mobile homes?  Some were positioned, but a large segment ended up in Arkansas later and never used at all.

So we come to Staten Island.  I watched interview after interview yesterday.  No gas....limited gas purchases...gas only on even days or odd days.  No electrical power....maybe for days....for two or three weeks.  Homes destroyed and an expectation that FEMA would take care of you.

I'm thinking that FEMA is preparing a house trailer purchase in the northeast....probably three thousand of them....which they will position in some open field near Staten Island, and rent it from some politically high-up individual at a rate of $150k a month.

FEMA to the rescue?  If you live on Staten Island....you'd best stand and evaluate your property.  If there's not much to go back into....then you'd best plan on some idea of moving in with relatives or friends for the winter, or relocating to another state.  Putting an RV trailer on your property?  It'll be ok for thirty days but by Christmas....you will admit it's a defeat for you and the family and you can't survive long-term in a RV trailer.

The Florida folks have become geniuses at hurricanes.  They know what damage will occur....where the emergency water will be distributed ...where to find construction materials....and how to contract repairs with contractors.  They've practiced this over and over.  Church organizations from Bama, Georgia and from across the unaffected areas of Florida come in, and do what you'd expect.  No one is really expecting much from the Federal government in Florida....mostly because they know things just don't work that way.

I'm guessing New Jersey folks will eventually wise-up and know the value of FEMA.  Either you get up on your own feet and work on your own situation.....or you pack up and leave the state.  Don't expect miracles out of a US government operation.  Rescue yourself.

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