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Author Topic: What's with the response to Sandy's victims ?  (Read 6538 times)
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nr Bundaberg, Australia
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Warning, rant follows.

I just watched the news to see yet another story about people that still have no government support after hurricane Sandy. We see volunteers handing out a blanket and a can of beans to some poor old lady living in a 7th floor apartment somewhere where there's still no power and it's snowing outside.

People are queuing for hours to get a gallon of petrol, and a disabled woman's carer can't get to her to help because she can't fill her car.

WTF?

This is a country that spends bazillions a year on military aircraft tyres for chrissake. Why isn't the national guard and the Army all over these places like a rash with generators, fuel tankers, mess facilities with free hot meals, field hospitals, whatever is needed.

And then we hear that one of the parties in the recent election was given 8 billion dollars in donations. 8 billion, that's f*cking obscene. Presumably the other half had access to similar resources.

And to top is off I see that they have in fact managed to get a generator working...to illuminate the bloody statue of Liberty. What? Who gives a toss if you can see a damn statue?

OK maybe we're getting the wrong end of the stick over here in Aus, after all who trusts the TV right? Anyone on the ground have better information?

______
Rob

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Rob Gray aka the GRAYnomad www.robgray.com

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It's a bit better than the response after Katrina (hurricane in Lousiana) - where they ran out of ammunition in the neighbouring states as folks armed up for the incomming invasion of refugees <missing a bittersweet smiley here>.
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Maine
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Chalk it up to a lack of preparation and planning. Theres plenty of fuel and supplies in the area, but people are hoarding them because they are scared. We don't need to give them more stuff, we need to force the people who have enough to stop taking more. There were lines at the gas pumps the day after the storm, you can't tell me those people ran out of fuel in 6 hours.

Also, this is what you get when you abolish local disaster relief centers and replace them with a slow moving federal organization. I expect sandbags to start arriving there by May. The local power companies, on the other hand, have been working frakking miracles. We should probably just give them the supplies, since they seem to have this logistics thing worked out.

http://google.org/crisismap/2012-sandy
« Last Edit: November 12, 2012, 12:54:58 am by wizdum » Logged

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one of the parties in the recent election was given 8 billion dollars in donations.
I hadn't heard that number, and it's certainly absurd in its way, but that number would be spread across a presidential candidate (more, if you're counting contributions to primary candidates), 13 governors, 33 senators, and all 435 representatives...

Also beware the "large number effect."  8billion is about 1/3 of the tax revenue from selling alcoholic beverages in a year (in the US), for instance.  And video games are about $1B/month...
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That's $8 billion (which I assume is the value in Australian dollars) for all of the election races. Still way too much though -- couldn't watch a single Youtube video without some damn election commercial.

http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2012/10/2012-election-spending-will-reach-6.html

The "petrol" supplies are being hampered by so much of the fuel delivery infrastructure now being dedicated to providing supplies to the bazillions of generators that are in use. I'd also assume that quite a few service stations were knocked out of service; that's going to put more pressure on those that remain running.

In some situations there are strong labor unions preventing additional help from coming in (New York is very "intense" when it comes to labor unions). Yeah, that sucks.

As for the little old lady being given a blanket and can of beans... you gotta wonder about a person as unprepared as that. That's just not typical. Gas hoarding is not typical but yeah, it happens.
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nr Bundaberg, Australia
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but people are hoarding them because they are scared.
I understand that, heck we have a run on supplies here every long weekend, you'd think the shops were never going to open again.

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I expect sandbags to start arriving there by May.
smiley

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And video games are about $1B/month
$8B is not so much in that light eh?

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which I assume is the value in Australian dollars
All the same these days, give or take a cent or two.

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there are strong labor unions preventing additional help from coming in
When my dad came back from Africa in WW2 the troop ships anchored off Perth. These guys hadn't eaten a decent meal in a couple of years and the unions refused to bring supplies out to the ships until they got a pay rise. Pissing off 1000s of blokes armed to the teeth that had just spent years killing people was not such a great idea as it turned out, as my dad told the story the union wharfies worked at gun point with no pay rise smiley

Unions had their uses and their day and without them most of us would still be working in really bad conditions. However that day has largely passed as far I'm concerned.

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you gotta wonder about a person as unprepared as that.
We live off the grid in almost every sense of the phrase, you could wipe out all the towns on our eastern seaboard and except for the fact that I couldn't get onto the Arduino forum I wouldn't notice until we drove into town 1-2 months later to get food smiley

However I guess some people live from hand to mouth, especially in poorer areas.

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Gas hoarding is not typical but yeah, it happens.
You gotta love that, 30 buckets of petrol in a van. There's a guy cruising for a Darwin award.


______
Rob
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WTF?
It's a huge disaster, affecting, to some extent, 17 (iirc) states, with a population larger than all of Australia.  Many of those states are coastal, so the the usual approach of bringing in aid and supplies from neighboring states doesn't work so well: what adjoining states there are may well be just as hard-hit.

Many of the victims live in high-density urban areas, with a lot of just-in-time supply chains (even down to the household level: many NYC residents are accustomed to shopping for groceries multiple times per week) and not a lot of excess capacity. When a large percentage of the gas stations were knocked out by flooding and/or power loss, the remaining stations were overtaxed.

Quite a bit of fundamental infrastructure was badly damaged.  It's not just a matter or restringing a few downed power lines: there were facilities like entire substations destroyed, and sometimes roads that would ordinarily be used to rush in repair parts were blocked in multiple places.

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Who gives a toss if you can see a damn statue?

From what I've read about the NYC mayor's style, it was probably done for psychological effect (like fixing broken windows in abandoned buildings, which seems to lower the overall crime and vandalism rates). For some people, seeing the familiar nighttime landmark again induces hope. For others, it probably induces anger. Either way, it motivates them.

That $8B figure is definitely wrong: total spending by everyone (candidates, parties, and outside groups like the infamous superPACs) on all 550 or so federal races was about half that.  Still arguably obscene, but nowhere near as bad as you thought.
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It's a bit better than the response after Katrina (hurricane in Lousiana) - where they ran out of ammunition in the neighbouring states as folks armed up for the incomming invasion of refugees <missing a bittersweet smiley here>.

Some comments from someone living in a neighboring state...

• No matter what you read, we did not "run out of ammunition" from "arming up".  Quite the opposite.  The state of Texas welcomed approximately 1/4 of the Katrina refugees.  37% of those folks chose to make Texas their new home.

• Criminals amongst refugees is a valid concern.  For example, providing refuge for Katrina victims resulted in a very significant increase in murders (and other violent crimes) in Houston.

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Some of the problem is that they are so used to having everything working and so little used to any inconvenience that when something like this happens they have no clue what to do. And they expect someone else to do it for them. People that had as the most important part of their life getting their cell phone charged and their electronic devices on line. They can't get to work because the roads are still blocked, but they can fight to get in line for gasoline and have no place to go. And tehy expect that someone else will have the same expectations for their personal comfort that they have. The power company is going to go to those places wher they can get the biggest results first and then to those places with smaller returns for the effort. Having been through a couple ice storms and a few blizzards (I grew up in western NY and moved to south Texas just in time to enjoy hurricane Dolly) it is my opinion that most of what we see is folks having to confront the reality that they really have very little control over their lives or environment. Really is shocking to have to admit our own insignificance when the things over which we have no control come in and smash everything we have placed out trust in. What happens when I am confronted by my powerlessness?  I can either scream and yell and whine for someone to rescue me, or I can sit back, take stock and readjust my thoughts and ideas to the reality that does exist, rather than the reality I imagine. The fights over gasoline were not because of a need for gasoline, but because they could not handle the idea of their own insignificance. That, and the very fact that the thought of just cillin for a few days drives them screaming bonkers.
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nr Bundaberg, Australia
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Some good points there I think.

I live on solar and I think that empowers me (sorry smiley) because I'm not dependant on any outside people.

There is a down side of course, that being that I can't depend on any outside people. If something breaks it's me that has to fix it.

Same goes with my plumbing, roofing, hydraulics, air systems, truck tyres, LPG, you name it.

Overall I like it that way, but there are times when I'd rather just pick up the phone, like now, I have a leaking pressure pump smiley-sad

______
Rob
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Left Coast, CA (USA)
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I live in California, one of the most earthquake active areas of the world. Most people living here know that large damaging earthquakes could happen at any time, but few are really prepared both practically and  psychophysically if such a huge event actually happens. Plus for a earthquake there is no advance warning of when where and how large. We are told that each household should be prepared to be able to wait out rescue and help for at least 3 days, but few have probably really taken any real steps to reach that goal.

 Civilized behaviour, rule of law, and such rest on a very fragile foundation if nature decides to get dramatic as she can at any time and any place. I am not a 'preper' by nature so I just do the minimum I think I need to do and hope to be able to ride out any major event, but then again I'm pretty OK with a fatalistic outlook on life and don't try to spend too much time worrying about things I can't really control. And I don't have any large expectations on governments ability to respond effectively in such situations. At my age I just don't put a lot of thought in how to survive all possible disasters, perhaps when I was younger raising children I was more concerned?
Lefty
« Last Edit: November 12, 2012, 12:43:29 pm by retrolefty » Logged

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The state of Texas welcomed approximately 1/4 of the Katrina refugees.  37% of those folks chose to make Texas their new home.
Nice to hear a more balanced view. Problem with news from afar - only the sensational part gets through.

Criminals amongst refugees is a valid concern.  For example, providing refuge for Katrina victims resulted in a very significant increase in murders (and other violent crimes) in Houston.
Hmmm... was that infighting amongst the new residents?

Anyhow - back to the OT. There is a difference between the "general populace's" reaction and the offical goverment/state actions. I think Graynomad mostly thought of the latter. My comment was (kinda regret it) towards the former.
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Problem with news from afar - only the sensational part gets through.

Also a problem with news from anear.

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Hmmm... was that infighting amongst the new residents?

No.  The murder rate increased for several years following the influx of refugees.  My understanding is that it took a few years for Houston to "get back to even" after the huge increase in population; meaning there was a lack of things like probation officers to keep ex-cons on the straight-and-narrow.


For those living outside the U.S., bear in mind that our government is layered and delineated (we even fought a nasty war to determine where the delineation falls).  Typically, the Federal Government can only act by permission from the state.  In other words, the state of New Jersey must first (and formally) request assistance before any federal employees can provide assistance.  The burden falls first to the governors.  If the "government" is sluggish to respond it could be because the state government is sluggish.

Also bear in mind that electricity is provided by private companies.  If the electricity has not been restored, in the short term, the government (federal or state) can do very little but complain publicly (embarrass company officials).
« Last Edit: November 12, 2012, 03:18:07 pm by Coding Badly » Logged

Maine
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Some good points there I think.

I live on solar and I think that empowers me (sorry smiley) because I'm not dependant on any outside people.

There is a down side of course, that being that I can't depend on any outside people. If something breaks it's me that has to fix it.

Same goes with my plumbing, roofing, hydraulics, air systems, truck tyres, LPG, you name it.

Overall I like it that way, but there are times when I'd rather just pick up the phone, like now, I have a leaking pressure pump smiley-sad

______
Rob

So wishing I could just call someone right now. Truck is busted, furnace is busted, septic is backed up into the sinks, and a boatload of college work to do. We're not complety self sufficient (still require sporadic heating oil and propane deliveries), but at least we have backup systems just in case. When the ice storm of '98 hit us, we just sat in our house for a week until the roads were cleared and the power restored. Rigged the furnace, sump pumps, and hot water heater to run off our generator, and played some games on my Playstation 1. We didn't rush out the night before to try to buy up supplies, and we aren't even "preppers". It amazes me how unprepared some people are. Their priorities are also questionable. I tried explaining how to make a simple DIY "portable" power pack (using the alternator in a car to charge the batteries, and give them a few hours of light/radio/heat inside their house) to some of them, and got b*tched at because it was too heavy for them to carry in their pockets. They opted to have friends buy iPhone chargers on Amazon and mail them to their house (those should be arriving in a few weeks).
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Having grown up in rural Wisconsin, I was used to power outages and being cut off- on a regular basis.  I remember the summer of 1976, when a cluster of downbursts and tornadoes hit the town- we were without power for nearly three weeks.  I also remember the winter of 1984, when our power was out for two weeks and the temperatures were as low as ten below zero.

I now live in the suburbs of Boston, a very different environment.  In 2008 a severe ice storm crippled much of new england, we were without power for about a week.. and it was far more difficult to handle than living rurally.  First was the fact that although I have a fireplace (and dry wood, usually around a cord at any time), most of my neighbors don't.  Within hours of power failing, we had neighbors and two friends sleeping on our living room floor for a week.  Stores that didn't have power simply didn't open, and gas stations generally didn't have power for the pumps- therefore no gas.  Add to that the simple fact that urban folks just don't have the resources in many cases- think about apartment buildings.  It's pretty much a reality that anything over five stories will be uninhabitable simply because five stories of stairs is what most people are going to manage.  They are city folk, don't camp- so they don't have a tent, and even if they did, there is only so much flat, dry, open ground.

Most of it is inexperience on the part of the populace, and also the sheer scale.  Finding alternate living space for a thousand people is a herculean effort-  but finding even basics for a million is nigh on impossible.

New York and New Orleans (maybe sticking with the old ones would be a good idea?) are perfect examples of the fact that today's urban populace simply could not live "in the wild".  Personally, I am with WHO on keeping an eye on hospitals for water-borne illnesses at this point.  Cholera in Queens.  A single outbreak could be horrific.
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