It is clear that Hurricane Sandy’s damage was tremendous. The destruction is far-reaching along the east coast, more or less severe in some areas that have had extended power loss for example, and absolutely devastating in others, like New Jersey, which essentially lost an entire boardwalk and a number of houses.
Though the rains and winds have stopped, facing the damage and the process of evaluating the inevitably mind-boggling costs of repairs has only begun, and could be just as torrential. Though great sums of money are already flowing from a number of sources, like the Department of Transportation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the result of a recent provision in last-year’s budget agreement, in which Congress set aside about $12 billion for disaster relief, it is likely that billons more federal dollars will be requested by the hardest-hit states. Such requests, as necessary as they are, are bound to cause controversy and hesitance after the tremendous fraud and mispayments that occurred in the wake and relief efforts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (estimated to add up to $600 million). The reality is that these states may not see the extent of the federal dollars that they need.
As an alternative, what would be really nice to see is some significant initiative taken, and contributions made by private companies. Serious recovery efforts have obviously already begun, donations are flowing in, and it is great to see how many companies have already reached out the east coast states and contributed to relief funds.
However so many companies, the powerful, tireless, profit-seeking corporations that dominate our society, have such potential to really make a remarkably positive impact on relief efforts, and I’m just not sure we will ever see it happen. Such independent groups have spent over $1 billion, an impressive sum, putting their favored candidate’s face on TV among other advertising and campaigning activities in the hopes of influencing this election. No one could see Hurricane Sandy or the wreckage it caused coming, but companies who were able to make donations of that magnitude to the election, should be able to make comparable donations now, to those who are suffering and have lost much, and to our cities, streets, and buildings that need repairs. They could even maintain their anonymity and face a lot less contestation!
But in all seriousness, it will be interesting to see in comparison and in the wake of both the election and this horrific natural disaster, how willing these independent groups will be to spend to the extent that they have on this election, on a cause that doesn’t really include any fiscal benefits, but with the sole purpose of helping fellow Americans in need.