Politics Affect on Hurricane Preparedness

This is the speech I gave this past Saturday August 18th at Storm Expo 2012.

Hello, I would like to address the ways in which politics play a role in hurricane preparedness.

Fortunately, we have not experienced any hurricanes in South Florida thus far this year and hopefully, we will be spared this fate for the remainder of the season.  As for believing that we will never be faced with the devastation that a hurricane can cause, no one here is that naive.  The best we can do is to mitigate the potential damage by being as prepared as we possibly can be when the next storm strikes.

Having emergency supplies on hand can greatly reduce the pain of loss as well as mean the difference between life and death.  If municipal water supplies are cut off or contaminated, a set aside of five gallons of water can not only provide the sustenance a family may need, but also serve to buoy their spirits until assistance can arrive; If that five gallons runs out, bleach can be used to decontaminate any suspect sources of water that might be available.  Batteries for flashlights are a must as are the flashlights in which to put those batteries.  Canned goods, dried goods and other food supplies that do not require refrigeration are imperative if the power goes out.  A generator can greatly ease the suffering many will face by allowing some to run their refrigerators to preserve food or an air conditioner to cool them.  And, as we all know here in Miami, we cannot do without air conditioning.

There are, of course, all kinds of emergency supplies that can make life easier after any disaster, but most of them have costs associated with them.  And for the less fortunate in our society, these costs can be prohibitive.  Even the barest of necessities required in the aftermath of a hurricane might seem outside any feasible budget for some of the neediest in our Community.  When those who have become the most ignored in politics, the less fortunate or the poor find it difficult to put food on the table on a daily basis, stockpiling anything is the last thing on their minds.  When jobs are so scarce that any “opening” offered, draws an inordinate number of hopeful candidates:  People who only seek to keep the electricity or water running in their homes are not concerned as to how well-prepared they or their families are for a hurricane:  The daily requirements of life overshadow any thoughts of an emergency which, may or may nor occur.

Hurricane preparedness is just one junction where politics and poverty collide however, but it is at this intersection of disaster and apathy where the choices we make at the polls shine brightest or burn harshest.  It is during and after a disaster that our leaders greatest strengths or weaknesses come into the light of day.  As the nation comes together in times of crisis, regardless of the policies of our elected officials, communities unite in order to overcome adversity.  And in these times of greatest strife, the choices made by our leaders either bear the greatest fruit or wither on the vein in their inadequacy.

This is also where hurricane preparedness is affected by the unlikely source of politics.  When most people think of emergency management and other life saving methods, few correlate them with political ideology, but this couldn’t be further from the truth, as was indicated by hurricane Katrina.  What this disaster showed us was that political choices do have consequences.  As we watched the news and witnessed as so many people were left to fend for themselves, our hearts broke.  When we found out that the man appointed to the highest office in FEMA was a horse breeder with no emergency management credentials, we grew angry.  As days stretched into weeks then months, we all wondered how many lives could have been saved after Katrina had an emergency management professional been at the helm of the agency in charge of saving those lives.  In a seemingly unrelated series of disasters, we had political leaders calling for a bill that required any and all disaster relief funds to be offset by equivalent budget cuts.  Only when disaster struck their own districts did these compassionless individuals abandon this requirement, but do not believe for one second that their initial, Objectivist goals are gone forever.

When a hurricane strikes, the first line of defense is being prepared and if we have leaders who are so short sighted as to require budget cuts before any action can be taken, then how concerned can they be with the level of preparedness we maintain?  When the time comes to rescue those who need to be saved, to comfort those who have lost so much and to help the survivors rebuild their lives in an attempt to return to normalcy or to find a new normal, make certain that you’ve voted for the candidate who will strive to mitigate some of the hazards of a hurricane with a plan that prepares us to better weather the storm.

In light of what is at stake; before, during and after a hurricane hits, shouldn’t we expect those who choose to lead us to provide us with the means to equip ourselves for the next major storm?  Of course we should.  This is why we must demand that our elected officials be more vigilant for opportunities that benefit the community at large.  It is during the calm between two storms that we must press them to push policies that will attract businesses to our small corner of the world and bring with them jobs that pay a living wage, not a salary that only serves as life support.

People do not want to be reliant on handouts.  Americans are self-sufficient, but when they are denied access to the means to be independent, those who have withheld the means should not complain about those in need for they created that need through their inaction or worse still, malicious deeds and dealings that benefit only the few.

Imagine how many more people will suffer if politicians like Congressman Eric Cantor and others get their wish to limit emergency funds based upon the amount of cuts they can squeeze from the budget.  This wouldn’t even sound like a good idea if our Congress was filled with rational and compassionate representatives, which we all know is not the case these days.  An emergency is absolutely the last instance when budgetary desires should take precedent.

Now, my reason for being here today is not to endorse any particular candidate or any particular party for that matter.  To be quite honest, I have reservations about both of the major parties that claim to represent the people of the United States of America.  What I do hope to impart upon you all today is the need to know those who will seek your endorsement and your vote in the upcoming elections.  Before you vote, make certain you understand what each prospective candidate stands for as well as the party they represent.  Get together with family members, friends, colleagues and neighbors, even the ones you disagree with and talk about the issues that are important to you.  You might be surprised at just how similar your views are pertaining to what you seek in a leader.  One thing that we can all look for as an indicator as to how affective a leader will prepare the community for a hurricane would be to determine which candidate presents the best ideas for job creation and feasible plans to strengthen Miami.

To help make our government better represent the people, I have been working on what I call The Really? Rally, which I hope will serve as an honest forum where the clutter of major news outlets can be eliminated and an honest discourse between candidate and constituent can be had.  For more information about the Really? Rally or any of the other ideas my group hopes to put forward, visit www.RegainingAmericanDemocracy.com, where our goal is to Return the Power of our Democracy to the People.

Until such time that we all make our decisions at the polling stations however, consider donating to any organization that provides emergency supplies to people in need before a hurricane strikes and to those organizations that shelter, feed and clothe individuals and families who have suffered losses after a hurricane has passed.

Thank you and Be Prepared

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