The Politics Of Storm Preparedness

People often talk about being prepared for when that next storm hits. Safety tips and storm preparedness guides are provided by FEMA, The Weather Channel, and sites such as Hurricaneville and Greg’s Weather Center to advise people to have things such as a First Aid Kit, plenty of water, flashlights, batteries, and non-perishable foods as well as know nearby evacuation routes, and where the nearest shelter are located. However, we tend to forget about another aspect of storm preparedness and hazard mitigation, and that is taking political action. For instance, residents in Bound Brook and Manville frustrated with the slow progress of the federally funded Green Brook Flood Control Project may want to use that as a campaign issue in the Presidential elections in 2008.

Last year, the Bush Administration didn’t allocate any money in the federal budget for this project, which is only about one-third completed after nearly 35 years. Promises were made to these residents after Hurricane Floyd in September, 1999 that this type of flooding wouldn’t happen again. Those promises weren’t kept. If you are a resident of Bound Brook, Manville, Fairfield, Lodi, Paterson, and Wayne, and you want to have something done so that this issue is dealt with, you must advocate for yourself and your community by letting politicians know that this is important to you. Advocacy can be accomplished by writing to your Senator, Congressman, state, county, or local officials. It can be also done by supporting the candidate you feel will overcome the red tape, and solve the problem of getting those federal dollars needed for projects essential to protecting life and property of you and others.

Every election cycle there are always many voters, who are undecided even as they step into the voting booth. Well, one deciding factor could be where the two or three candidate stand on flood control, or flood insurance. Perhaps you’re curious to find out where candidates stand on federal funding for beach restoration projects, or running federal agencies such as FEMA. Candidates that say the same thing on issues such as the War in Iraq, Universal Health Care, or Education may differ on this issue. Democrats and Republicans have different philosophies when it comes to handling your tax dollars. For instance, under President Clinton, FEMA, led by James Lee Witt was doing great things such as Project Impact, which helped many communities including some in the New York Metropolitan area fortify natural defenses against storms.

However, when the current administration took office, Project Impact was phased out and eliminated as emphasis was placed on terrorism, and the newly formed Department of Homeland Security, which FEMA became a part of. A program such as Project Impact could have helped towns such as Bound Brook or Manville prevent the flooding that occurred in April. People must realize that they can empower themselves to get results, and be pro-active in protecting themselves, their families, and community by getting involved in the political process because one thing we’ve learned quite a lot over the last few years is that you can’t always give government the benefit of the doubt that it will always be there for you. Don’t let politicians take your vote for granted.