Friday, August 31, 2018

Take Responsibility for Disaster Preparedness

It's no secret that I think Donald Trump is an embarrassment as a President and as a human being. That being said, all this talk about the death toll in Puerto Rico is unfair to throw on him.
Local Puerto Rican government officials failed the people of Puerto Rico. They clearly did not do enough over the decades to prepare the Puerto Rican infrastructure to deal with a hurricane that was certain to come one day. A Cat 4 or 5 storm in the Caribbean is not a black swan event - it's completely foreseeable. Instead, they wasted billions through countless crony projects, subsidies to win votes and corruption. And all these officials were elected and re-elected by the people of Puerto Rico themselves.
So while we should expect DJT to show some compassion, the 3,000 person death toll is not his fault. At most, only the deaths that could have been prevented in the period following 5 to 7 days after the storm should be his responsibility because that demonstrates a failure in our response. I've yet to see a break down of when these 3,000 deaths occurred or what they were attributable to. But the President of the United States cannot be responsible for someone choosing to live in a structure that is built to sub-par building codes because local officials were incompetent or corrput or in a flood zone.
Since Katrina, FEMA has clearly stated that every American should be prepared to survive on their own for at least 3 days after a natural disaster without assistance. That's true whether they are in Florida, NY or California, but it's particularly true when you are in a remote location like Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam or anywhere else that a logistics infrastructure can't use roads or rail. I don't believe it's unreasonable for people in remote regions to expect to be on their own for up to a week until aid can be mobilized to these areas.
Look at the difficulties residents of NYC faced after Superstorm Sandy. They are in one of the world's greatest cities but very few of them had even a day or two's supplies to deal with power outages and flooding.
Sooner or later we are all likely to experience some natural disaster be that hurricane, flood, tornado, earthquake, blizzard or volcano. If you don't prepare in advance, you'll end up being one of those thousands who have to wait in line for basic necessities and you'll have nobody to blame but yourself. People need to take responsibility for themselves and stop expecting the government to be their nanny.

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