Homeland Security Series – Surviving FrankenSandy

Posted: October 27, 2012 in Homeland Security
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This is a perfect time for my second installment in my Homeland Security series.  It seems we have a completely irrational storm heading towards the eastern edge of the US sometime after the end of the weekend.  Somewhere around my home state of New Jersey is the projected ground zero, with those of us through the southeast and as far west as the Appalachian mountains of Pennsylvania and West Virginia prepared to face the onslaught as well.  New England is not safe either as they face the potential effects of a giant N’oreaster that is looking to making Sandy one royal bitch as it places a blocking position in her northerly progress.  While Sandy is predicted to make landfall somewhere in the tri-state area, the Delaware River area is far from safe as a point impact.  So as far as situation reports go, this is a pretty bleak outlook for the start of next workweek with the effects being felt through the weekend up and down the coast.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA is going to have its hands full for a while as the east coast, especially the northeast is still not 100% recovered from last years October storms.  So what does this have to do with Homeland Security you may ask?  I will tell you.  As part of the “all-hazards approach” that was adopted in disaster reform after 9/11 FEMA was originally moved from being a separate agency with a director all its own to an agency within the DHS with the DHS director as the overall head of the agency.  Hurricane Katrina in 2005 proved how ill-advised this move actually was.  FEMA, originally chartered in the late 1970’s as an agency who would respond to the effects of a nuclear attack, had transitioned under Ronald Reagan’s cabinet to one that would provide aid in response to natural disasters.  From this time period to Katrina, regardless of where FEMA was located or run by, it had limited success at best as a disaster response agency.  In the days post Katrina, changes were made that kept FEMA under the DHS, but re-instated a director who would in time of crisis report directly to the president, but on a day to day basis be under the leadership of the DHS director.

So in all this time and in an attempt to combat the fallout from the post-Katrina reviews, FEMA has done a pretty good job of establishing programs to help the public, prior to, during and after a disaster.  This is especially true natural disasters which have at least some means of predictability to them like hurricanes.  What they have done a really poor job at overall is actually getting this information out to the public, so that is what I would like to do now.

I have included numerous links so far to the FEMA website, so here is one more for you.  They have a pretty good program called Ready.gov.  Their hurricane link will take you to some tips specifically related to hurricane preparedness and survival.  The Hurricane link is located on their Natural Disaster page which has links to various types of natural disasters and what to do before, during and after one happens.  If you are interested in the latest information on Sandy or any other storms, head over to the National Hurricane Center and you can plot it like the Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve.

One of the main reasons I provide this information is because it is your responsibility to survive a natural disaster.  FEMA, is simply a method of rendering aid and assistance in times of crisis.  Contrary to popular belief, the police and emergency official that arrive in response are not the first responders.  The first responders in almost every case are those who are affected by the incident.  Everything that happens after an incident has happened, can be directly affected by you the individual and how well you are prepared to deal with it.  After all, the government in all its infinite wisdom and constant attempts to try cannot regulate common sense.  Common sense is applicable to the piece of ground that you, the individual or group, are standing on when an incident happens.  How well you, your loved ones, or any other potential victims you may be in a position to render aid to survive an incident could very well depend upon how well prepared you are to deal with the situation.  Crisis does not create heroes, it simply offers them an opportunity present themselves.

I sincerely hope that FrankenSandy and her Nor’easter frenemy decide to keep their battle out in the Atlantic rather than roll their rampage of the 1000 or so miles of coastline between NC and Maine.  In the real world, that hope is just that, hope.  Anyone who does not prepare for the worst possible scenario given the current information is inviting disaster at a personnel level.  If you have family and do not prepare, all you are doing is inviting disaster to effect them and setting a pretty poor example of personal responsibility.  There is time, prepare for the worst and talk smack about it in the aftermath, but survival is a personal responsibility.

Best of luck to the potentially affected during and in the days after the storm.  I hope you fare well.

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