Comments about ‘In our opinion: Politicizing a disaster like superstorm Sandy borders on obscene’

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Published: Tuesday, Oct. 30 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

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GZE
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

People stating that emergency relief efforts are best managed at the state or local level are forgetting their history. The Emergency Management System was established at the Federal level because of the inefficienies experienced after 9/11 when rescue crews from around the country responded and were unable to communicate effectively with each other. Federal management, which has established policies and procedures throughout the nation, was absolutely essential.

The proper level of government to manage a disaster depends on the type and scope of the disaster. If your house catches on fire, it can probably be handled locally. If New York City is under 3 feet of water, it's probably going to take something more.

The beauty of EMS is that if the firefighters require assistance to put out your house fire, everyone comes in knowing what to do without wasting time and your house has a better chance of being saved.

Blue
Salt Lake City, UT

"States are closer, better placed, better motivated, and perfectly capable, particularly with in-place or planned regional and interstate support agreements, to handle disasters as they occur. Federal involvement seldom extends beyond political photo-ops and money."

You'd better check with Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey on that point. His praise for FEMA and specifically for Obama's leadership during this crisis has been nothing short of effusive.

The idea that the Hurricane Sandy disaster, which profoundly effects our nation as whole, should only be handled by a bunch of state agencies acting independently is just plain absurd.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Romney said last year he'd get rid of FEMA.
Today he didn't.

Ironically --
The Deseret News posts another letter to the editor today that Mitt Romney is not a lying Flip-Flopper.

Who's politicizing?

Lowonoil
Clearfield, UT

"Politicizing a disaster like superstorm Sandy borders on obscene".

I agree. Funny that the first picture I saw when I opened deseretnews dot com this morning was Mitt Romney stuffing cans of food into sacks presumably for victims of superstorm Sandy.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

At a time like this, which experience is better?

The former Commmunity Organizer?
or
A Vulture Capitalist?

BTW - What is Romney doing stuffing bags with canned goods for the cameras?
He has Hundreds of MILLIONS $$$ in Cayman and Swiss bank accounts.

He'd do more by simplying writing a check to the "little" people at FEMA.
Just wants to keep his $$$ for himself, and take advantage for a photo-op.

josephscott
Sandy, UT

"Unfortunately, runaway federal spending on entitlements threatens to hamstring the nation's ability to respond to disasters as deficits grow and the ability to borrow is compromised."

The last time the total federal debt went down instead of up (year over year) was 1957 (check out TreasuryDirect.gov for a list of the federal debt from 1791 to today). You have a long list of presidents and politicians to blame for the current federal fiscal situation.

josephscott
Sandy, UT

"We have seen that type of disaster response often here in Utah, when floods, high winds and other problems have prompted impressive responses from churches and local governments."

Utah has done an impressive job of coming together when emergencies hit. But Utah has never seen anything near the scale of what has happened on the east coast. For starters "Early Wednesday, at least 6.2 million electric customers across the Eastern United States were still in the dark." (reported by CNN this morning). That is 2.2 times more people without power than live in all of Utah (2011 population estimate for Utah is 2.8M). Please don't even hint that Utah has managed to get by just fine by itself when dealing with a problem of the same magnitude, because Utah has never seen problems of that scale.

Gandalf
Salt Lake City, UT

This is a sad editorial. The idea that the NY Times editorial was improperly politicizing this disaster is absurd. Are we supposed to simply watch silently as proof of the inadvisability of Gov. Romney's privatization schemes are played out before our very eyes? Is it verboten to point out the folly of eliminating FEMA? Because that is exactly what Gov. Romney, pre-etch-a-sketch, said we ought to do!

I recognize that the Deseret News is in the tank for Mitt Romney. But it is clear that my co-religionists have been blinded by Republican ideology generally and by the opportunistic deceit of Mitt Romney generally. It is President Obama, not Mitt Romney, who represents the moral values and integrity of the restored gospel.

Moderate
Salt Lake City, UT

OK. I understand the rules now.
Politicizing a hurricane, bad.
Politicizing a terrorist attack in Libya, good.

Salsero
Provo, UT

The news editor of the DesNews must be having a difficult time covering the massive storm currently devastating the East Coast. Although there is need to cover the storm and the president's involvement, there is also the interests of the DesNews to support Mit Romney. Story selection and how the stories are presented apparently are affected by this conflict of interest. Favorable coverage of the president's involvement works contrary to interests of the Romney campaign. It's a tough spot to be in.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

I am still trying to figure out what is so wrong with getting rid of FEMA, and pushing that responsibility to the states?

Think about it. If a disaster was to occur in Utah, who knows better what resources are available and how to get people organized, Utah or the Federal Government?

All along the East Coast, who knows better what areas are more prone to damage, the state governments, or the feds?

Romney's statements do not indicate a flip flop as so many liberals claim. He recognizes that the states currently do not have state agencies set up to do what FEMA does. You can't just cut off the system without weaning the states from it. No mental gymnastics needed, just logic and common sense. The mental gymnastics can be saved for filling out government forms for help.

Ying Fah
Provo, UT

RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT

As always, it depends upon the extent of damage. Perhaps you might look at Chris Christie of New Jersey and ask him your question. I sure he would provide you with a lucid, well-reasoned answer.

When the tsunami hit Japan, local authorities realized that the extent of damage was far beyond their emergency response efforts. Similarly, a devastating event in Utah would quickly overwhelm the resources of both local and state agencies. The key words here are "extent of damage" and "devastating event".

VST
Bountiful, UT

Why does all relief money have to be channeled through the Federal Government rather than having it channeled directly to the States. Think Teton Dam failure back in 1976. The only thing the Federal Government had to do was provide the money they had taken from the taxpayers or borrowed from our creditors (about $320M). When it came to the actual dirty work of cleaning up the mess, the Federal Government did zilch. It was all done by the States (others like Utah and Wyoming) besides Idaho plus a significant amount of help from the LDS Chruch.

The Federal Government is needed to cover the big needs is way overplayed, especially if the relief money is handled at the State levels, where it rightfully should be.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Wait a minute...

Didn't UTAH just get FEMA assistance for the "wind storm" last December?
Didn't UTAH just declare and recieve FEMA for assistance for "the Laub dam" break just last month in St. George?

Oh,
but now this about a Democratic President, and New England which is primarily a Democratic stronghold -- so NOW it's bad, and NOW it's politicisizing.

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

Re: "The idea that the Hurricane Sandy disaster . . . should only be handled by a bunch of state agencies acting independently is just plain absurd."

Yeah -- that's the leftist party line, alright.

But, it's not reality.

The largest American disasters ever, were "only" handled, and handled quite well, by local public and private entities -- often with financial help from Washington, of course -- but with no expectation that federal aid would devolve into federal control and responsibility.

But, today, local responsibility has been ceded or abandoned to bureaucrats in a bloated, distant federal agency. As a result, a Category 1 hurricane that won't even make the top 50 American disasters, inexplicably becomes cause for national debate over whether "big storms require big government."

That's the very definition of politicizing disasters.

The idea of local control and local action is not only NOT absurd, it's the very basis of active, efficient, effectual aid.

The American model of disaster response must be the Teton Dam collapse, NOT the FEMA-induced political collapse of New Orleans.

Noodlekaboodle
Millcreek, UT

So what I'm hearing from these comments all points to the ineptitude of FEMA. But all of the examples are during the Bush administration. Does that mean FEMA isn't good, or does it mean GWB hired the wrong person to head FEMA and did a poor job managing the disaster? Just because republicans do a terrible job running the government doesn't make the government bad. It makes the republicans bad at their job.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

To "Ying Fah" yes look at that disaster. Who understood the areas best that were hit with the tsunami? Do the politicians in Tokyo understand the people in the effected areas best, or do the mayors and provincial officials understand what is needed? They may ask the central government for specific help, but overall the locals understand their situation better than anybody else.

To "LDS Liberal" you realize that the "help" that Utah got was primarily loan guarantees and some funding. It was still the locals that directed the efforts. Who organized the massive cleanup efforts, was it FEMA or local leaders?

UtahBlueDevil
Durham, NC

VST's thinking points up the foolishness of thinking any state can go it alone when disaster strikes.

I think what is missed here is the impacted area here is a stretch that if it were laid over Utah would go from Pheonix to Yellowstone part, that the number of people where they eye hit that have been directly impacted is two times the total polation of Utah, and the total number of people in the storms hit area is 20 times the population of Utah. Or lets put it this way, the total GDP of Utah is 10 Billion LESS than the anticipated fiscal impact of this story.

Or how about this. Utah's National Guerd budget for 2013 is $36 million, of which $30 million comes from the feds. So Utah contrabution is only a little more than $5 million. Utah total state budget is $2 billion. Sandy's cleanup cost is estimated at $50 Billion. How in the world would a state manage something like this, less along the coordination of efforts across multiple state lines. It makes no sense what so ever..... but hey, lets hand it to corporations to profit over evnets like this.

Truthseeker
SLO, CA

The Romney campaign hastily transformed a scheduled victory rally in Dayton, Ohio into a non-political “storm relief event” on Tuesday. The campaign encouraged supporters to bring hurricane relief supplies and “deliver the bags of canned goods, packages of diapers, and cases of water bottles to the candidate, who would be perched behind a table along with a slew of volunteers and his Ohio right-hand man, Senator Rob Portman.”

Romney campaign aides reportedly spent $5,000 at a local Wal-Mart on supplies that could be put on display. When supporters arrived at the rally-turned-relief event, they were treated to the 10-minute video about Romney’s life, which was first unveiled at the RNC. The event ended with supporters lined up to hand over supplies and meet Romney. The donation process was also staged:

Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, “What if we dropped off our donations up front?”

The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. “Just grab something,” he said.

Owen
Heber City, UT

"The idea of local control and local action is not only NOT absurd, it's the very basis of active, efficient, effectual aid." Which exactly the mission of FEMA: to support the local Governor who remains in charge. Sheesh. Do some research.

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