Two months after Hurricane Isaac’s flooding devastated parts of southeast Louisiana, Americans have been presented with fresh evidence of the essential role the federal government plays in disaster recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s impact in the the northeast.
By all accounts, the federal government’s response to both Isaac and Sandy — delivered primarily through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — has been exemplary, in stark contrast to the shocking ineptitude of FEMA’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. President Obama’s selection of Craig Fugate, former disaster recovery head in Florida, has transformed the agency from a hotbed of cronyism into the effective disaster response agency that Americans want and need it to be.
That would all change if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan win next Tuesday’s election.
During the Republican presidential primaries, Romney declared that, if elected President, he’d shut down FEMA and transfer disaster recovery responsibilities to the states and the private sector. Here’s the transcript of what Romney told Republican voters.
Romney has no concept of the impact of disasters on the lives of the non-wealthy. As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney vetoed a flood prevention bill that would have affected parts of the commonwealth that later flooded. Romney’s veto made the flooding after a 2004 storm worse – and he turned to the federal government to help with the recovery effort.
Paul Ryan was part of the House Republican leadership effort to deny disaster recovery funding for victims of tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri, unless cuts were made in other programs.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Romney has refused to either back or abandon his earlier statements on the federal role in disaster recovery.
Like his approach to disaster recovery, we are on our own to figure out what his true position is on the matter. We only have his words to go by. FEMA’s transformation under President Obama’s leadership shows one clear path forward. Can we risk waiting for Mr. Romney to make up his mind?
Can you commit to volunteer to help Democratic candidates between now and election day (next Tuesday)? If you can’t volunteer your time, please help the Louisiana Democratic Party by donating whatever you can afford here. We’ve got to be all in to Win!
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Originally published: Nov 1, 2012