Katrina, Sandy, Har­vey and…

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - OPINION -

Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, and now Irma and what may fol­low, re­mind us of the in­te­gral role in re­cov­ery that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment plays, pri­mar­ily through disas­ter re­lief fund­ing and its ad­min­is­tra­tion. With Katrina there was neg­a­tive cri­tique of both the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s ini­tial re­sponse to the disas­ter and the sub­se­quent lack of ac­count­abil­ity for how aid dol­lars were spent by re­cip­i­ents in the af­ter­math. Re­gard­ing the lat­ter it’s been sug­gested that Katrina aid dol­lars were free-flow­ing as an over-com­pen­sa­tion for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s ini­tial mis­han­dling of the disas­ter.

With Sandy, in what seems to have been a counter-over-com­pen­sa­tion, ac­cess to fed­eral aid dol­lars was mired in ex­ces­sive process re­sult­ing in long de­lays in re­ceiv­ing aid and in some cases un­ful­filled as­sis­tance; at least here in NJ. No tax­payer wants to see public monies wasted, but ex­pe­ri­en­tially, the Sandy process for many com­pounded post-storm pain rather than help­ing to re­lieve it.

Our coun­try is now faced with the need to re­spond to mul­ti­ple, ma­jor nat­u­ral dis­as­ters. Let’s hope the ad­min­is­tra­tion of fed­eral disas­ter re­lief aid finds that sweet-spot; swift ad­min­is­tra­tion with the re­quired amount of re­cip­i­ent ac­count­abil­ity; some­where be­tween the Katrina and Sandy ex­pe­ri­ences.

— Robert Long

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