Sandy And Candy
Tonight, we hand out candy as the New Jersey/New York area begins to piece together their belongings after Sandy came ashore. As sewage, gasoline and bacteria permeate the New York flood waters, people struggle to get gasoline for their cars and deal with looting. Which, once again, serves as ample evidence that we need to be prepared by having our own food, water, gasoline, sanitary supplies and self defense tools to live life off the grid for an extended time so we don't have to drink poo water, ride a bike to the store or get our stuff jacked by looters.
I spent time in Miami post-Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The post storm environment is not fun. It sucks. Bad. Those people suffering right now really are suffering - make no mistake.
Much of the political talk surrounding the storm stems from whether Romney wants to abolish FEMA. As a Libertarian, I take a dim view of most government agencies and programs these days. I do however believe there is a role for government in public safety. In past disasters, we struggled to determine who that should be (Hurricane Katrina comes to mind), as well as the degree of help the federal government should provide.
A number of people have chided former FEMA director Michael "Brownie" Brown for his comments about President Obama's response to Sandy. Given his history with FEMA, I'm not sure he's the best critic of any President's response to a disaster.
But for a moment, I'm going to take up for Brownie. Not because he was a Bush appointee or because he took a shot at Obama. Brown's tenure as FEMA's director came at a challenging time within the organization, having been once a stand alone agency, then incorporated into the Department of Homeland Security. DHS circa 2005 was focused primarily on defending the country against terrorism. Hurricane preparedness, it seems, didn't rank too far up the disaster depth chart. During Congressional hearings, then-Secretary for DHS Michael Chertoff aptly testified FEMA's response demonstrated the agency was utterly dysfunctional. This dysfunction has its roots in the politics of Washington - not Democrat or Republican politics, but that of turf, budgets and misplaced priorities. I would submit the dysfunction is far greater than any one person. To be sure, Brown had a hand in all of this. But to lay the brunt of the blame on him, given the facts, I think is unfortunate and unfair.
If we are going to have FEMA, then we need to have a discussion about its proper role in a disaster. And once that role is established, it needs to train relentlessly for various scenarios that might affect the United States - just as law enforcement, fire departments and EMS do on a regular basis.
Speaking Of FEMA, Are They Authorized To Take Our Food?
Remember the South Park episode where the people come back from the future to get employment in the present? The workers who are displaced are often heard saying "they took our jobs!" Awesome episode.
That episode reminds me of the question you read on prepper boards every now and then - can the government come and "take your food" during a crisis?
I wrote an article about this several years ago, which unfortunately I cannot find. I will share this statutory authority (meaning it's a law passed by Congress, as opposed to the Executive Orders we often read about) with you. I'm of the opinion this statute does in fact authorize the government to come and "take your stuff."
Before you freak about this, relax. As a practical matter, I don't see how a government agency is going to confiscate enough supplies from preppers so as to make it worth their while to do. Further, many preppers will probably resist such government takings without due process, further complicating matters.
I hope this helps those of you who are concerned.
Update On Preparedness Conference
We have a date - put it on your calendar. On Saturday, January 5, 2013, the first annual Suburban Dad Survivalist Preparedness Conference will be in the Austin area. I've confirmed some of our speakers, and the agenda continues to develop. More details will follow in the coming days.