The Politics of Katrina and Sandy
Devastation. Loss. Starvation. Desperation. The victims of natural disasters all over the world know what it is like to feel completely and utterly hopeless. The rest of us are lucky, we have never experienced the pain of losing next to everything from a real-life nightmare. Most of us cannot imagine something like that ever happening. But it did. And when it happened, there was panic, and no time for messing around with politics. But when relief was a day too slow, people grew angry and frustrated. Federal response for both Hurricane Sandy and Katrina had been approached differently. In this paper I am going to share the research I found that explains why and how that happened. As well as other criticisms the media had for the federal government during disaster recovery. It is no secret that response after Hurricane Katrina was unacceptable. The aftermath brought attention to a huge hole in our federal government that we were not prepared to fill. In addition, there were many criticisms from an environmental and structural standpoint. Critics said that New Orleans and the Jersey Shore were not structurally prepared for that kind of weather, and they should have been. I am going to look into how the government intended to fill that hole and what new policies were being written so something like this would not happen again.
Scholars have brought up a number of factors as to why and how the natural disasters of Hurricane Katrina and Sandy played out the way they did. The three main schools of thought I am going to discuss include; how the federal response to Hurricane Katrina caused a political fallout, how Louisiana was not structurally prepared for a storm of this scale, and how the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina changed the political landscape of Louisiana. Let’s begin with the politics. Typically, a big factor that determines a good president is how he or she responds to tragedy and disaster. George Bush’s now infamous “acknowledgment” of Katrina left victims to wait weeks on end for some help that did not come, making people believe that the survivors were not being saved because of their race and social status. Americans like to see a “quick-fix” for disasters. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a simple solution when tragedy strikes. It is nearly impossible to prepare for natural disasters such as mud slides, earthquakes, tsunamis, and of course, hurricanes. When politics are involved, the simplest solution, seems, well, not so simple. Hurricane Katrina was a perfect example of something that the United States was not ready for. It revealed a horrific structural fault of our system of government, sending a message that the U.S. is in no way prepared for a major disaster. After the storm initially hit, the nation was hungry for a new and improved version of the Federal Government. As the 2008 Presidential election grew closer, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was a hot topic. The candidates that were going to have an edge were the ones that outlined a clear plan for disasters and “national unity.”
The victims of Hurricane Sandy also felt their needs were put second by Congress. Two months after the storm, people were still waiting for Congress to approve an emergency relief package, which would provide four billion dollars to help Connecticut recover and prepare resources for future storms. When Speaker of the House, John Boehner delayed the vote, the nation was outraged. Edward Haberek, First Selectman in Stonington, CT, said, “Politicians should not play political games with emergency aid.” Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, who grabbed the attention of the media when he played a big role in New Jersey’s recovery, claimed that republican lawmakers in Washington put “palace and intrigue” ahead of legitimate responsibilities. It is clear that no matter how the government reacts to a disaster such as Sandy or...
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