For real life-headlines worthy of The Onion, one needs look no further than the doings of the U.S. government and its agencies. One week after Hurricane Sandy devastated the New York area, with a new storm on the way and almost 10,000 Staten Islanders still without power and scavenging for food, “FEMA Center Closed Due to Bad Weather” hung on the door of a newly-opened Staten Island FEMA office. Ten FEMA offices in the disaster-stricken area actually closed as the second storm hit.
So much for “first responders.”
Skepticism of governmental rescue efforts springs from more than natural cynicism. For perfectly practical reasons, state authorities have rarely been first to respond to disasters, and often get in the way when they finally do. It stands to simple reason: major incidents typically occur with alarming suddenness, too quickly and messily for lumbering bureaucracies to gather information and organize an effective response. Only local individuals and small, flexible groups are suited for prompt, decisive reaction.
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