In a Republican presidential debate in June of 2011, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney advocated for dismantlement of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). An organization dedicated to response and recovery during natural disasters, Romney indicated that he wanted to strip its authority and transfer those responsibilities to the states in an effort to help reduce the deficit.
In these moments of flooding, mass evacuations, public transit shutdowns, and school closings caused by Hurricane Sandy, should our priority be the nation’s deficit? Salon noted that while “50 million East Coast residents brace for Hurricane Sandy’s impact, President Obama has already signed disaster declarations for six statesso far , making available the resources and unique coordinating capabilities of the federal government.”
President Obama's and FEMA’s quick and serious response to the hurricane represents the importance of a strong federal government in the midst of a disaster that transcends state borders. Sandy’s timing aligns well with the upcoming presidential election. Hopefully, voters next week will remember how important it is to have these federal programs in place to coordinate first-responders and help mitigate devastating impacts during times of a state of emergency.