FEMA, Floods, Flyovers, Photo Ops and Frozen Waste

My friend Gary W. Heinz wrote this. I was in the process of writing a very similar story about my old home town in Jersey — but I could not have said it better than this. Thanks for letting me share this Gary — Granger Whitelaw

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If you had asked me a week or so ago whether I would ever write a post about FEMA, I’d ask you what you were smoking or drinking! A lot has changed since then wi

th Hurricane Sandy causing the virtual destruction of the town of Sea Bright where I have been fortunate enough to have a house for the last 8 years. Watching the e-mails between my neighbors about the status of the town and our homes and the next steps of talking to FEMA, etc., has been heartbreaking, but even more so has been watching the tensions grow in places outside of Sea Bright like Staten Island, and the other boroughs. In a country as advanced as ours, it shows just how fine a line there is between civilization and crumbling civilization.

While the American spirit is alive and strong as evidenced by companies like San Antonio’s CPS and many other energy companies around the country sending workers to the Northeast to pitch in and help restore power, it’s also pretty clear that FEMA was not prepared for this storm even though it was talked about and tracked for days before. Gas, water and food shortages in the 21st century should not occur. Basically, a division of the Federal Government with a $5.8 billion budget is failing just as it did seven years ago under Bush during Katrina. Politics and pride have gotten in the way of commonsense and efficiency and Romney’s call in the debate for FEMA to be decentralized to the state level (and the private sector as it relates to flood insurance), while taking a lot of criticism given Sandy, probably makes the most sense in order to get politics out of the way of helping people.

Both Bush and Obama used these disasters to try to show their compassion and increase their stature with flyovers and visits of the Southeast and Northeast. While I’m sure they genuinely cared, when the problems remain long after the photo op pictures are developed and circulated, the whole thing doesn’t seem very genuine at all. Chris Christie, who has been doing an amazing job so far, got caught up in all of this with his flyover and photo op with Obama. Clearly it was a waste of time because there is still people without power and gas.

FEMA is set up in a way that gives the Governor of a particular state the ability to declare a state of emergency in a particular area and then request from the President a federal response. Of course, there is no doubt that Katrina and Sandy were qualified to receive FEMA assistance and Christie would do what any Governor in his situation would do. The simple fact remains though that that a President can still say “no” to a Governor’s request. This means that the system is, by its nature, political and therefore a bit screwed up. Most unfortunate, like most government bureaucracies, the FEMA system is very inefficient and causes unnecessary delays. Finally, the fact that FEMA isn’t very good at responding as shown in disasters of the last ten years means there must be a better approach.

For proof of this, one needs to look no further than a recent incident with Mayor Bloomberg. During a recent tour of the devastation, he didn’t have multiple rings of Secret Service agents to keep away the suffering citizens who felt that government (National, State and City) wasn’t doing its job properly and who fervently voiced their opinions. The reality is that if Bloomberg was truly in charge of the response, or Chris Christie, things would happen much faster and more efficiently. Since they are beholden to the whims of a multi-billion dollar agency that is ironically prone to not be prepared, they end up getting the complaints from those affected.

Perhaps, giving the money to the states via bloc grants, is the better approach. We could save $5.8 billion right off the bat or a least a large portion of that. I have more faith in someone like Bloomberg or Christie who are on the ground and feeling the heat form their constituents fixing a problem by allocating resources more efficiently than I do with a bunch of folks in D.C.

The most telling story of FEMA is one that circulated years after Katrina that amazes me to this day of money being storing, moving and ultimately melting unused ice. ((http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-3058982.html). To put it in perspective, this $12.5mm could have provided about 2,500 children a scholarship to an inner city parochial school or at least provided 12.5 million American’s with a dollar less in taxes! I know that Christie would spend that $12.5 million on children rather than moving around frozen water.

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About Granger Whitelaw

Granger Whitelaw founded the Rocket Racing League along with partner, Peter Diamandis in 2005. See more information at http://www.grangerwhitelaw.com/blog and http://grangerwhitelaw.brandyourself.com View all posts by Granger Whitelaw

19 responses to “FEMA, Floods, Flyovers, Photo Ops and Frozen Waste

  • NanaDoll

    Thank you so much for writing. I cannot even begin to imagine the devastation even after seeing so many photos and video clips. And that the bureaucracy continues to gum up the relief so desperately needed is appalling. Nothing changes. No progress. People still in dire straits waiting for the slow wheels of government to churn…I am so sorry and am praying for better responses and efficient dispersal of supplies and aid,

  • Venyon

    This is a paragraph that most of people in US experiences because of the hurricane sandy “Watching the e-mails between my neighbors about the status of the town and our homes and the next steps of talking to FEMA, etc., has been heartbreaking, but even more so has been watching the tensions grow in places outside of Sea Bright like Staten Island”. I believe that people can still stood up with this challenge I believe that many people are still willing to help and I hope for goodness of the people.

  • Sophie Morena

    This is a big disaster and it is really a big challenge for the government. I agree to some of the things that has been said on the above article but I think that though it is not that goog I think the government done things also though maybe not that satisfying to some of the people. Anyway I hope the areas that are affected can recover and I also think they can recover fast.

  • Randel Moore

    The Hurricane Sandy was a really a great hurricane and it really put a mark on the history of America but I just want to say that I believe that the American can still overcome this happening to them. I know the people will help each other and I know the people are strong. Anyway I hope there will be many things more that the government will do but I think the government will really do more good things, I believe in the government.

  • Howard

    I think I would agree to this one “Since they are beholden to the whims of a multi-billion dollar agency that is ironically prone to not be prepared, they end up getting the complaints from those affected.”, though I know there are things in politics that I can’t understand I still want to say right now that I hope this problem will be answered and will be solved. I hope everyone will have a clear mind and also not on the topic but thanks for letting me comment.

  • Philip

    This is a sad story and I think this is most contains politics and I am not really good about politics but I still I want to state my opinion here. I don’t know what is really happening around the government, I might believe you in that but still I don’t know what to decide but anyway I hope politics in the government will be minimized, the politics that I meant is the bad politics and I hope it will get large and will be resolve.

  • Rachel

    I guess the main point here is politics and I think this is really something that is alarming to the country. I am not much of an expert but politics is really rampant and really huge in any countries nowadays and I don’t have an idea how to stop this bad politics. I hope in the mere future this will be solve because I believe that if bad politics will be solved there will be big problems that will be solved also.

  • Darlan

    This involves a large amount of money “Perhaps, giving the money to the states via bloc grants, is the better approach. We could save $5.8 billion right off the bat or a least a large portion of that.”, I don’t know what to say certainly but this involves a large amount of money and this might be regretful to our Government.

  • Ramon

    I totally agree with this “In a country as advanced as ours, it shows just how fine a line there is between civilization and crumbling civilization.”, we can’t really detect and measure and predict exactly how strong will the typhoon, hurricane or what calamity it is. As they we can’t predict what nature will give us.

  • Haidi

    So he has a blog also because I have read this “I was in the process of writing a very similar story about my old home town in Jersey”, I think it’s nice to make blogs for ourselves and it makes us express our feelings socially and it makes us friendly also because we are interacting other peoples by doing that.

  • Jauny

    As I read the title of this article “FEMA, Floods, Flyovers, Photo Ops and Frozen Waste”, I thought of something else but it turns out to be not what I expected. Anyway I am aware of the hurricane and it’s a sad incident and tragedy since many are being affected by it. I agree to some of your comments and opinions in our government that you wrote here on your article.

  • Vine

    The hurricane was so huge and so powerful but I know we are more powerful than it and I think the people have really combined their power and energy to solve the problem about the hurricane and about the effect of hurricane. Though not all are saved and not all can be brought back but the fact that people have combined their strengths is very powerful.

  • Anthony Rodriguez

    It was really a big flood. Flood now are increasing in number per year I think and I think it is because of the climate change. Experts says that the climate change is really something that we should study well since it cannot be prevented because it is the way of nature and we can not stop it just with our own bare-hands.

  • Ray ray

    Above all I cared about the wastes, I mean the wastes that we really give upon the effect of the calamity. I cannot much understand about politics and any political language but I hope political things and stuff will be cleaner on this year and I hope many will cooperate for things that must really need to be cooperated.

  • Nor

    Bush and Obama used these disasters to try to show their compassion and increase their stature with flyovers and visits of the Southeast and Northeast. When there is a calamity to a country the politician grabs this opportunity. What do they really think for this? a campaign or a charity? I really don’t understand this people, why are they trying to used this incident for their personal interest. Hope they think before they act, because they just making their selves a trash by doing this.

  • Kyle

    I thought this is about the wastes and the flood literally but it’s not. Anyway you have point there and I can relate to you on some of it. Politics is just really can’t be controlled, and yeah I am referring to the black politics and it’s a dark side of politics. I believe there is some way in making solutions to our people and to our society or community. I believe that the problems will be solved.

  • Owl Herald

    Yes! “The most telling story of FEMA is one that circulated years after Katrina that amazes me to this day of money being storing, moving and ultimately melting unused ice” I have read the link and the article and it is really a telling story. I have been wondering to things also and I realized many things and though we can’t really handle or control many things but what we do can also made a change though it is kind of small but it will.

  • Leonardo

    I don’t know what to say about FEMA but I like the blog and how the author or the writer expresses his heart and mind about what happen and what his friends told him. Calamities are now very alarming and it can be really observed in random countries that is affected by earthquake, tsunami, typhoon or hurricane and the level of every calamity is greater than before and some people might say that it is because of global warming and I share the same thoughts with them, it might be because of climate change.

  • RJ

    I understand this too “In a country as advanced as ours, it shows just how fine a line there is between civilization and crumbling civilization.”, I know your feeling and I have experience this too and I don’t know how to specifically respond but now is a political elections in my place and you know how it is. Politics in my place is really worse and the politicians are doing things that I don’t understand why they need such things. I guess there must be an ultimate solution for this because I know it is not happening only in my place.

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