Criticism of storm response unfair

November 15, 2012

At some point within the past several weeks we have all stopped and asked, "What in the world has happened to Maryland, New Jersey and along the East Coast?" Although Maryland side-stepped catastrophic damage and is, for the most part, back to "pre-Sandy" conditions, there are still places on the East Coast without power, transportation infrastructure and/or potable water. My prayers are with those who continue to endure these horrid conditions and I can only imagine the thoughts in their heads.

The recent media reportage of the government's response to Hurricane Sandy is disingenuous at best. Those affected by the storm are neither downtrodden nor forgotten. They are not left to their own devices, nor are they left without any means to recoup what they have lost, and it is an insult to claim that the first responders, both at the local and state level, have done nothing to help their communities. As someone who has spent the last 10 years in the field of emergency and disaster management, and as one of the first government employees to step foot into the Gulf Coast region in 2005 just after Hurricane Katrina, I say let's consider this more rationally.

For those who are not aware, there are a series of intricate federal statutes that govern the "who, what, where, when and how" of emergency response. The Code of Federal Regulations 44, The Robert T. Stafford Act and the National Response Plan (to name a few), all have certain provisions and conditions that must be met before the "magic switch" can be triggered to allow the federal government to assist in a disaster. In the case of Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley made a justified and keen decision to request a pre-disaster declaration from President Barack Obama, (which was approved prior to landfall), that allowed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin to deploy assets, supplies and personnel within storm damaged areas.

In addition, FEMA employees also deserve our support, thanks and gratitude. In many cases, FEMA personnel responded from around the country, and those disaster assistance employees left their families, some with less than 12 hour notification, and deployed to the East Coast to assist in helping fellow Americans rebuild and resume their lives.

So before we bash FEMA, MEMA or any other government agency for the manor and speed in which they are helping us, maybe we should stop and thank them. You would be surprised what a well-deserved "thank you" will accomplish.

Brendan P. Gill, Savage

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