Here I sit in the middle of a disaster area watching TV and eating for sympathy. I had a breakfast sandwich while watching the HMS bounty go down. Possible loss of life, two, her captain has still to be found. I watched the survivors of the Moonachie levee collapse being brought out in trucks and boats with a fresh made bagel and some left over knockwurst. I can still be sympathetic but I’ve run out of room for food.
I’m getting text messages that the Gas stations have run out of gas and don’t expect more deliveries for 7 to 10 days. Port Newark is a wreck and refineries are down for the count. The cops have taken over most of the gas stations who still have gas in the ground but no power, saving it for emergency and town vehicles. So we’re rationing driving on this home front.
I’ve run extension cords to my neighbor down the hill for his refrigerator and offered the same to my uphill neighbor. The generator is humming along happily, but last night we gave everyone a noise break from 10pm until 8am this morning. We took a ride out to the doctor today and the roads are either blocked or packed. Lots of detours and even more trees still held up by power and telephone lines. It’s really creepy to drive under those. The power company hasn’t started clearing yet, they’re still assessing and working on substations. 7 to 10 days for 50% restoration is the current estimate.
Throughout all of this I’ve listened to the Governor compliment the President over and over and thank FEMA for their support and quick response. There are already FEMA teams in and on their way to points all over NJ. That’s pretty incredible and something to be really thankful for. It turns my stomach to think of all the cruel rumors that were just going around about FEMA.
Remember when we were all going to be herded into interment camps by jack-Booted FEMA thugs? What about the billions of rounds of ammunition FEMA ordered to shoot us all down in the streets? I wonder how long it will take for those types of rumors to rise again. I find it particularly interesting that these stories always begin in the states that take the most federal aid.
In the US more than 80% of the mostly rural states get back about $1.40 for every dollar they pay in. States with big cities (all “citified”) like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and most of the rest of the Northeast get an average of $.75 to .80 back for each dollar. This makes sense to me, rural states need the money and it makes sense to make sure our fellow citizens are getting the education and infrastructure dollars they need. It’s part of the contract of being one country.
However, the rural states are most often the ones who complain the most about federal taxes and are often the first to trumpet the benefits of “Self reliance.” It must feel like the ultimate individualism to live in the plains of the Dakotas or the wilds of the Ozarks, but you still need roads, schools and federal help in emergencies. I would think that states like Louisiana would know that, the army corps of engineers aren’t free you know. Still, you cant expect gratitude from people who don’t realize what’s going on. We can throw billions of dollars and support in aid at a state, but if they don’t notice it we can’t expect them to value it.
Boy, today I value it. It is sharply clear that without Federal aid more lives would be lost and we’d take a lot longer to recover. As it’s clear that New York, New Jersey and a lot of the mid atlantic states are on the front lines of global warming, we probably can expect to see more of our dollars coming back. Will that make us more appreciative? I hope so. I don’t think Mayor Bloomberg and the governors Cuomo and Christie are going to get a lot of guff when they propose tidal surge dams for New York harbor later this year, and that’s estimated to be around 10 billion.
It will also be interesting to see if Christie starts looking for ideas on how to protect the shore. The insurance companies will be pushing hard for that. It’s tough to cry “Budget!” when people are stranded, out of power and dying. It’s a make or break moment for all the big wigs right now and the whole world is watching.
P.S. A couple of towns on the barrier islands are burning, no one can get equipment in to fight the fires so they’re going to be a total loss.
Copyright Prentiss Gray 2012