Successes and Failures of New York's Response to Hurricane Sandy
Naomi Klein in her seminal work, SHOCK DOCTRINE: The rise of Disaster Capitalism, makes the startling claim that "Reconstruction is now such a big business that investors greet each new disaster with the excitement of a hot new stock offering: $30 billion for Iraq reconstruction, $13 billion for tsunami reconstruction, $110 billion for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast." (133) In the light of the strife and suffering, witnessed in New York when Hurricane Sandy made landfall, people feared that her worst visions of government failure and mismanagement of the crisis had come to pass. The commercialization of rescue efforts loomed large in people’s thoughts.
However, the government was vindicated because even before Sandy made landfall, emergency measures had already been activated. Through the use of conventional mass media like television and the print media, the government and its agencies provided critical information to the public. For instance, those who lived near the coastal areas and other places expected to be hardest hit were advised to evacuate. Clear directions were also provided as to where emergency help could be accessed. This was in large part due to the fact that the places it would hit had been accurately predicted by the National Hurricane Center, a federal facility (Sobel).
In the aftermath of the storm, the government, both state and federal, contributed heavily in the relief and rebuilding efforts of the affected areas. The Federal Environmental management Authority (FEMA), also released significant funds which were deployed in the relief effort. The immediate problems of providing housing and food to the displaced population were dealt with efficiently. The fears that big business would take over government functions were unfounded. In fact, FEMA requested for assistance from other federal agencies and local small businesses which had been awarded tenders for supply of various emergency items beforehand (" First Audits on Hurricane Sandy Funding Are Issued). The local and federal response was, in fact, better than that of some private business like AT&T and Verizon (Schumpeter). The roads were also cleared promptly which allowed the easy evacuation of the stranded.
The response was, however, not without major hiccups. The lack of a registry of the disabled and elderly in New York area greatly hampered the evacuation of the most vulnerable members of the community. This idea is only now being seriously considered, amidst opposition from some stake-holders who contend it will not be of use since people constantly move (Chavkin). This is despite the major role it played, in the rescue efforts in Westchester and Suffolk counties. Moreover, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the New York office in-charge of disaster preparedness has had its staff reduced. It is a clear indication that critical lessons were either which is bad or worse still, were entirely ignored which is worse.
Proposals for the building of storm barriers to protect the coast from serious damage in subsequent storms have been forwarded (Parry) .It is a noble idea, but the underlying causes to the increased occurrence of major tropical storms and other natural disasters and their long-term solutions seem to be ignored. Klein hypothesizes that the wealthy, who have the power to effect change are unconcerned because they think that they can buy themselves out of the potential crisis presented by climate change which could have some merit (159). New York and her leaders must seize this chance and confront this problem once and for all. Failure to confront this problem head-on renders null and void the steps taken by New York to solve the immediate problems. If not, history may judge them very harshly
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"Emergency responders can't find sick, elderly in disasters." The New York World. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 May 2014. <http://www.thenewyorkworld.com/2013/01/16/disaster-registries/>.
Klein, Naomi. The shock doctrine: the rise of disaster capitalism. New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2007. Print.
"Official Web Site of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board for Hurricane Sandy Funding." First Audits on Hurricane Sandy Funding Are Issued. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 May 2014. <http://www.recovery.gov/Sandy/featured/Pages/First-Audits-on-Hurricane-Sandy-Funding-Are-Issued.aspx>.
Parry, Wynne. "Future Disasters: 10 Lessons from Superstorm Sandy." LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 28 Jan. 2013. Web. 7 May 2014. <http://www.livescience.com/26640-future-disasters-lessons-superstorm-sandy.html>.
Sobel, Adam, "What we didn't learn from Superstorm Sandy." CNN. Cable News Network, 28 Oct. 2013. Web. 7 May 2014. <http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/26/opinion/sobel-superstorm-sandy/>.
""Success and failure after the storm." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 2 Nov. 2012. Web. 7 May 2014. <http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2012/11/sandy>.
"The Shock Doctrine." War, Terror, Catastrophe: Profiting From 'Disaster Capitalism'. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 May 2014. <http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine/reviews/profiting-disaster-capitalism>.