Archive for the ‘Natural DIsasters’ Category

h1

THE DILEMMA OF NATURAL DISASTERS

June 1, 2013

Oklahoma got hit again – twice this week – along with Arkansas.  So far, we do not have the expertise to stop these storms, but we certainly have long-gathered statistics that predict and track them.

We know the worst occur in just five states…Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

Of course, when disaster hits, we respond-with immediate aid and long term, with funds to rebuild…and a lot of government attention and aid.

When Sandy hit, our blustery conservative friends in the US Legislature had loud discussions about not approving funding.   When the tornado hit Moore, there was no such discussion.  Instead, we heard much discussion about FEMA….how fast and how much was coming.

In fact, annual tornados are part of the reason that southern states are known as the area that GETS more federal funds than they totally pay in taxes…a fact they conveniently overlook when they are discussing government spending.

I am not suggesting that help should NOT be given…of course it should – that has emerged as a function of our federal government.  (Ed:  Yes, functions and interpretations CHANGE over centuries to meet current needs – what a novel concept!)

But I am suggesting we look at HOW that funding is managed.

I do not know the answer to this question, believe me; I just feel it is time to revisit and search for better answers.  Should Oklahoma residents be required to build basements or at least storm shelters in order to qualify for aid “next time”?  Should communities that encourage rebuilding be required to provide community shelters?  Should states known for tornadoes be required to provide additional services – paid for locally – by their citizens?  Should these communities perhaps be required to carry additional disaster insurance-or is it feasible for communities to carry disaster insurance paid for by its citizens?  Do we need to define limits on national disaster relief and once it’s gone, it’s gone?  What are additional options to be considered?

Since Oklahoma is the most recent to be hit, I have used them as an example, but I don’t mean to exclude others.  What about those 87 homes that remain along the  Red River which we carefully watch in the spring because of flood dangers?  Or Californians that rebuild in known proximity/pathways of forest fires-without  adequate water sources or fire-fighting resources?  And let’s not forget the Jersey Shores….they showed remarkable Yankee fortitude and are slowly rebuilding anew…but should there be restrictions on how close to the shoreline when we know ocean depths are rising?

Most likely, there is no single answer that fits all situations, but surely, it is time to start a discussion!

We put people on the moon;  we travel to Mars; we are trying to clone a mammoth that became extinct 10,000 years ago and yet, we spend billions in relief funds (and press coverage) on natural disasters and do little to improve the situation.  This makes no sense to me.  I am all for freedom to “take the risk”; I just think it is time we add “and accept the responsibility for resulting consequences.”