by John Hawkins | September 6, 2005 12:03 am
“If, as a nation, we want the federal government to assume the role of first-responder in our communities, then I imagine its size and power will have to be massively increased for it to have the capacity to respond to local and regional natural disasters in this way — even if it could. The federal resources and infrastructure for such an approach is mind-boggling. And it’s possible that the very nature of our governmental system would have to be adjusted. And I wonder, in the end, whether it would make much difference with a disaster of this magnitude. (Indeed, even now, the vast majority of second-guessing and criticism — rightly or wrongly — is focused on the federal government’s competence.) When the various “wise” overseers in Congress (who never seem to examine themselves) gear-up to examine the relief effort, let’s hope they also look at the early actions of local and state first-responders. The competence of these officials might help explain whether the federal government’s response was made more difficult. I don’t know. And maybe strengthening local and state leadership is a key answer, and maybe the public will need to be more attentive to the quality and competence of their local and state officials and governments. I do not deny a major federal role in dealing with disasters. Indeed, I enthusiastically support it — as I do federalism.
I also think as time passes, we are likely to learn more about the incredible and extraordinary efforts of both governmental and private institutions, faults and all. A CAT 4 hurricane, covering hundreds of miles along the Gulf Coast and millions of people; followed by flooding making 80% of New Orleans and large parts of Mississippi and Alabama unreachable; the complete destruction of infrastructure; and the almost immediate collapse of civil order, resulting in looting and worse. Five-days have passed at this writing; the military has taken back the streets; tens of thousands of lives have been saved; thousands more have been evacuated; and medical treatment is now being provided to most people. No, I’m not trying to paint a false picture, just a more complete one. And I realize that’s little solace to those who’ve lost everything.” — Mark Levin
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