In mid-week, Hurricane Joaquin got to churning in the Atlantic Ocean. Forecasts were uncertain but couldn’t rule out the prospect of landfall on the Atlantic coast. T and I sprung into action, checking our disaster supplies and otherwise setting ourselves up to weather whatever storm emerged.
We are always emergency-ready so this wind-up was a matter of filling our cars with gas and organizing emergency supplies to be in one location. I was impressed at the degree to which my local utility (PSE&G) and the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management were active on Twitter letting people know what needs to be done to be storm-ready. They fostered awareness without causing panic.
As the storm began to move further east in the Atlantic Ocean, reducing our risk of landfall, Governor Chris Christie turned up in the state (he is never here anymore), declared a state of emergency and gave local press conferences again. He promised that the state was ready but in this he was flat-out wrong. His Administration has done nothing to require gas stations to have generators so that we don’t experience the post-Sandy gas shortages that made things worse in 2012. Local communities have been given no emergency-management funds to prepare either charging stations or improved disaster communication. Most of the post-Sandy shoreline re-building happened without a requirement that homes be raised up to resist tidal flooding or, better yet, not built in flood plains at all. In most shore towns, serious beach erosion prevention plans were neither made nor executed. The $100 million worth of NJ Transit train cars we lost from poor storage decisions in Sandy is rarely discussed and our Transportation Secretary was caught up in the on-going Bridgegate/United Airlines bribery and scandal debacle. On Friday evening, just after 5 pm, he resigned from office. The Christie Administration was publicity-ready, but wasn’t disaster-ready.
So, oddly, while I think the citizens are more disaster-aware in the post-Sandy years, our government is less prepared. We are less prepared because post-Sandy, we know more about what needs to be done and we haven't done it. This is ironic for a Governor whose name got national attention after Sandy. It wasn’t really warranted then, by the way. It isn’t warranted now.