We learned nothing from Katrina
I would never compare a snowstorm, even one that dropped feet of snow on Colorado and western Kansas, to the devastation of a city by hurricane Katrina. But there were important lessons in the days preceding and following that destruction which should have been learned, not least about the importance of mobilizing assistance quickly when natural disasters overwhelm private citizens and local governments.
Which is why President Bush’s disaster aid for Kansas is so disappointing:
In Kansas, 44 counties and some nonprofit organizations in the western part of the state will receive aid for debris removal and other emergency measures.
Sen. Pat Roberts, R‑Kan., said the declaration was not adequate because it only offers the state access to two of the seven major types of public disaster assistance.
In a meeting Monday at the White House, Roberts urged President Bush to expand the declaration to include other aid such as assistance for public utilities, roads, bridges, water control facilities and public buildings.
Roberts said federal officials did not appear to realize how devastating the storm had been or how quickly action was needed.
“We are told that debris removal does not cover the removal of snow,” Roberts said in an emotional speech on the Senate floor.
“If you’re from western Kansas or you’re out on the high plain and you have 30 inches of snow and 15 foot snow drifts and you can’t remove the snow because it can’t be categorized as debris,” Roberts said, “how on earth can you reach the debris that’s underneath the snow?”
As in New Orleans, and as will be the case after the next earthquake, hurricane, tornado, blizzard or terrorist attack, the federal government is standing in the way of disaster response, rather than being out in front of the recovery effort.
I hope Congressman Moran is also working the phones to get help for his constituents, and I’d urge residents of the affected areas to contact the White House and add your voices to those of your representatives.
Yea.…this is representative of a long-standing tension in hazards/disasters policy that I’ve written about before. The federal government thinks the states should take more initiative in prepping themselves for their known hazards; the states think they can’t do it for themselves and need federal help, or else have seen copious federal help in the past and have decided it’ll always be there in the future. CA is one of the few states that aggressively manages its risks.
I know what you mean about having the states take the first whack at these situations. But the image above shows how much of an interstate issue this is. A federal authority is appropriate at least in terms of coordinating resources and providing loans to distribute the cost, as well as distributing personnel and equipment through the National Guard.
There would probably be some logic to requiring a state buy-in, in the same way that states match Medicaid spending. That would at least encourage planning.
I agree with Kevin. We (the states) shouldn’t expect to just cry to the feds when something bad inevitably happens. Especially given the federal track record, states need to be better prepared despite what the federal government should do.
I have been following your posts for some time now. While I do not always agree with your views of Republicans, it is refreshing to see you actually agree with one once in a while. Although I fear it is only to score points against Bush, you do actually agree with Senator Roberts. You have to admit, Roberts does look out for the state. A lesson for liberals is something Republicans have known all along, the federal government is not the answer to all of your problems, often, it is the problem. Say what you will about Republicans, some of them are willing to call a spade a spade.
Senator Roberts looks out for Kansas when it’s convenient, but sold us all down the river on Iraq intel and illegal wiretapping. I suppose we should be grateful that he’s decided to focus all his efforts on pork.
And the idea that the incompetence of this government is some sort of condemnation of government in general is just silly. Government didn’t cause a blizzard.