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article imageOp-Ed: Sandy becoming Obama's frozen Katrina

By Larry Clifton     Nov 6, 2012 in Politics
The Northeast, blasted by a second nor'easter in the wake of superstorm Sandy, still has tens of thousands of newly homeless families without long-term housing and in too many cases without short-term housing.
However, more than a week after the storm, with Obama’s re-election campaign wrapped up, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has decided some of those trailers from FEMA might help some people, according to an ABC report.
"There are some local governments that will want trailers. Many communities on Long Island use trailers during situations like this. And they're frequently seen. So some communities, it's going to be a community by community option," Cuomo said at a Monday press conference.
It seems that by now, with homeless children facing a hard freeze eight days after the event, Cuomo should be demanding FEMA trailers to be set up for families, not idly chatting about how they “are frequently seen.”
FEMA has spent about $200 million in emergency housing assistance and placed 34,000 people in New York and New Jersey in hotels and motels. However tens of thousands more have no short-term relief and city and state officials have not laid out an official plan to move the homeless into long-term housing. Such a lapse in preparedness by leaders in such a congested region seems criminal.
Perhaps Mr. Obama should have sent a few czars over to put a boot in Cuomos’ regime. But then, there was that pesky election, so too bad for the homeless.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is also talking about wants and wishes while children wonder if the end of the world has arrived.
Monday, a full week after the superstorm struck the Northeast, Napolitano said the government's first priority is getting people to a warm place where they can eat a hot meal. Beyond that, the government wants to find housing as close to people's homes as possible.
"We're in the process of looking at all options for housing," she said. "Given the extent of the housing need, no option is off the table."
So when does the “looking at options” phase end and the implementation of a plan begin? Another week or two? In the spring? What was Ms. Napolitano doing in the days after Sandy was forecast to strike the coast?
After Katrina, one would think the government would have a plan for the long-term displacement of people left homeless after a major hurricane strike - especially in a region where freezing temperatures may kill storm survivors.
"There's always a chance of there being a little snow. But right now, it looks like most of the rainfall from this system will be confined to coastal areas. We expect most of it, especially across the mid-Atlantic regions that were hit by Sandy, to fall in the form of rain," Brian Korty, a forecaster at the National Weather Service, told ABC News.
“Here’s your sign,” Bill Engville might say.
There is one organization reporting some good news. The Red Cross expects to deliver hot meals to freezing children and other victims despite the nor'easter.
"We have 5,300 Red Cross workers from all over the country who are here trying to help. And as long as it's safe to do so, volunteers will be out there," said Red Cross worker Daphne Hart.
According to the ABC report, “with many huddling around fires and turning to candles for heat, authorities are urging them to get to a shelter or somewhere warm before the nor'easter.” How is that possible when Napolitano and Cuomo are still “looking at options?”
"People are definitely concerned about the cold; they're concerned that they don't have power. So one of the things the Red Cross is doing is trying to talk to them, trying to tell them where they can get assistance. We've shipped in an additional 80,000 blankets that we're trying to distribute," Hart said.
The Red Cross doesn't expect the nor'easter to hurt its ability to get hot meals to victims.
"We have 5,300 Red Cross workers from all over the country who are here trying to help. And as long as it's safe to do so, volunteers will be out there," said Red Cross worker Daphne Hart.
There is one big difference between Katrina and Sandy - temperature. It’s freezing in the heavily populated Northeast. Where is the long-term housing? Governments had at least several days notice before the storm and it’s been eight long, cold days since the region was devastated.
Why is Napolitano “still in the process of looking at all options” for FEMA trailers and long-term housing? You pull them with trucks, ship them around the coast or put them on flatbeds hooked to locomotives.
Enough talk about "processing options."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Election 2012, Janet napolitano, gov cuomo, hurricane sandy
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