Friday, July 16, 2010

Time to Rethink Disaster Response

Those who have read Warnings know that I am quite critical of the Bush Administration's response to Katrina. Now that the oil has stopped gushing in the Gulf, I can state that the Obama Administration didn't do any better, and was likely worse, than Bush during Katrina.

James Carville, hardly anti-Obama, seems to agree:

From CNN's "Anderson Cooper Show"

CARVILLE:  The people here have been so let down. The federal government let us down.  They're killing the economy here.  People in the interior department that issue these things don't have the foggiest idea about life here, they don't have the foggiest idea about what's going on, and they have got to do something about this because the federal government is about to kill us.

The problem isn't Republican or Democrat, the problem is Washington, D.C. As I write in Warnings, the culture of our nation's capital is where the problem lies.

As the insiders in D.C. say, "nothing succeeds like failure." What that means is there is little money for proactive measures to solve problems. But, when there is a failure, the money flows in gushers.

Don't believe me? Consider this quote from today's Wall Street Journal regarding the new financial services bill that just passed Congress:

What started as a promise to streamline and modernize the financial system turned into 2,300 pages of new agencies and new powers for the very authorities that fomented the financial crisis.

See what I mean? The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) completely failed to prevent the 2008 financial meltdown and the Madoff fraud, so the 'solution' is to give them more money and power. In a rational world, people would be fired given this level of incompetence and the agency disbanded. Instead, they are rewarded.

Please let me state again, this has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat but everything to do with the dysfunctional culture of Washington.

So, since the Federal government cannot be counted on when there is a major crisis, here are a couple of thoughts regarding disaster preparation and response:
  • Expect the unexpected. Washington, D.C. had an earthquake today. Boston and NYC have had earthquakes. San Diego once had a hurricane and California will have one some day in the future. We will have a volcanic eruption in the West sometime in the coming decades. Everyone should have at least three days of water and easily prepared food (we do!) in their homes along with flashlights and extra medicine. 
  • I don't allow the gasoline supply in my car to drop below a quarter tank. Most all of today's pumps require electricity. 
  • A number of companies sell a separate battery that can be attached to a cell phone. Get one so that you have a few hours of extra power for your cell phone. Remember, your recharger won't work during an extended outage. 
  • It may be counterintuitive, but the bigger the city (denser the population), increase your preparations (i.e., a week of food). How many grocery stores are there in NYC relative to population? Not many oil refineries, food warehouses, or locally grown food there, either. 
I would also urge everyone, regardless of your other political views, to start pressing candidates for national office what they propose to do to change the culture of Washington. If we are going to pay federal agencies (FEMA, etc.) literally billions to deal with disasters, we need to be getting value for our hard-earned taxes. 


  1. FWIW, I've got a pretty full preparedness kit. I've been through a 7.2 quake. It happens.

    I was supposed to get your book for my birthday, but Barnes & Noble were sold out. They said more were due in (it was 'on order')... then we got a notice they were in. And it sold out again before I got mine 8-{

    The spouse has now ordered a reserved copy 8-}

    I'm looking forward to a good read.

    From "Yet Another Mike Smith"... E.M.Smith

  2. Glad to hear about your disaster kit! Sorry you had so many problems getting a copy of the book. Hope you enjoy it!



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