(Page 2 of 3)
“But with each email/Twitter check,” he said, “the power bar empties that little bit further. It’s really frustrating. So, too, is the sound of our neighbor’s generator. There are parts of the world where blackouts and generators are the norm. We’re just very lucky to live in a part of the world where these events are rare.”
Yes, we are lucky to live in a part of the world where these events are rare, but we are luckier still to be citizens of a nation with layers of government — federal, state, local — that can and should function as a coherent whole in times of great emergency.
We have seen the opposite, in the inexcusable failures of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its incompetent, politicized leadership when Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters overran New Orleans during the George W. Bush administration. FEMA is one of those federal agencies that Republicans love to hate, to starve of funds and to characterize, as Mitt Romney did earlier in the campaign, as an unnecessary hindrance to the delivery of emergency relief.
But in the real world, the world of Hurricane Sandy, even a stalwart Romney ally like Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey set aside politics and had only words of praise for the Obama administration’s efforts to upgrade FEMA. Speaking about the damage to his state on the NBC show “Today,” Christie called the president “outstanding” and said the response from FEMA had been “excellent.”
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has stayed neutral in the presidential campaign, echoed the governor’s assessment: “I think the coordination between the city, state and the federal government has been as good as anybody has ever seen. And we appreciate the help of all of them.”
Surely, as the full reckoning of the death and destruction left in Sandy’s wake becomes apparent, there will be examples when more and better could have been done. But at a time when the very functioning of government is derided and mistrusted, it’s important to note when it works.