What we all know is that what happened after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 cannot happen again.
Imagine shock, outrage, distain...all feelings and decries expressed in the last week by former FEMA Director Michael Brown and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani over President Obama's swift action in preparing for and responding to the destruction that Hurricane Sandy imposed on the East Coast. Sure, criticism may be warranted for Obama's recent shortcomings; a slow response to the attacks on Americans in Benghazi, a listless performance in the first Presidential debate, but to say that the President acted too quickly in addressing the nation the Sunday before Sandy's landfall is reaching. To claim that FEMA's response has been worse than that after Hurricane Katrina is irresponsible. Would we all rather be on the other side of Sandy seeing what FEMA's response would look like if Obama had waited to get involved pre-storm or as in the previous administration's case not gotten involved at all?
Yes there are long gas lines, and grocery stores have shortages of food on their shelves, but that cannot be compared to the rape and violent crime we saw post-Katrina as Americans waited what seemed like an endless amount of time for any federal response. The devastation and trauma the citizens of New Orleans faced in the wake of Bush's FEMA will never be rivaled by the conditions experienced by victims of Hurricane Sandy. The NYPD is reporting that crime is down in New York City after the storm. Hearing that children allegedly slept in urine, men committed suicide, and women were assaulted inside and outside the Superdome makes waiting in a gas line for three hours a mere inconvenience.
Measures taken by President Obama, Governor Christie, and Mayor Bloomberg have all proven necessary as the agencies under this administration move as quickly as possible to respond. Unfortunately it took an event as catastrophic as Hurricane Katrina to send a message to agencies and officials alike that preparation and response to these events has to be quicker, better, faster. Indeed, if some of the hardest hit areas from Atlantic City to Staten Island were under post-Katrina FEMA response, we would be seeing a very different outcome to Hurricane Sandy.
To the critics who insist that Obama's actions in the last week would not have been so immediate if not for the impending election this Tuesday, maybe, just maybe President Obama was able to look at the actions of the former administration to see where his priorities need to lie. We will never know what the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina would have looked like had Bush been proactive in working with local and state officials in addressing the warnings received from the National Hurricane Center, but was Obama too early and too late? I don't think so Giuliani.