I wrote this yesterday morning but was unable to get it up until now, about a day late.
Hurricane Irene made landfall at about 4:30 this morning on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. I am writing this about two hours later.
The image just below shows the areas which are endangered by this very large hurricane over the next two days.
The area in purple is the area of “extreme threat.” You may notice that some cities in the purple area are omitted, presumably due to space and legibility considerations. Working northward, the major omitted cities are Wilmington, NC; Richmond, VA; Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD; Dover, DE; Trenton, NJ, and Providence. About 25% of the entire population of this country live in the “extreme threat” area.
And the threats will manifest themselves in many forms — storm surge along the coast and very heavy rain, both of which will cause flooding, and hurricane or tropical storm force winds. Experts are already estimating that damage could very easily run into many billions of dollars.
The following comes from a blog by Jan Bookman, who posts at the Atlanta Journal Constitution, With Major Hurricane Looming Federal Aid In Question. Mr Bookman writes:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, for example, has consistently argued that any appropriation for emergency relief must be offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. With a major hurricane headed Virginia’s way, his office has already announced that remains his position. And as we all already know, raising taxes to make the spending revenue-neutral won’t be an option either.
That approach is consistent with what Mitt Romney said back in June, in a GOP debate held shortly after tornadoes had destroyed much of Joplin, Missouri.
In a response to a question from John King, a CNN interviewer, Romney said he would oppose federal disaster aid that would increase the deficit, proposing instead to leave that duty to the states. Given the chance by King to back off that position regarding relief operations in a major natural disaster, Romney refused, reiterating that we simply can’t afford it:
“We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.”
A blogger at Daily Kos, Lefty Coaster, provides an explanation for this Republican miserliness:
“Republicans are worried that Hurricane Irene will necessitate a recovery effort by the Federal Government that will stimulate the economy. To try and insure that any recovery effort will not have a net stimulative effect Eric Cantor has jettisoned the American tradition of the country coming together to provide aid and help in recovering from a disaster to a region without selfish considerations about what its costing us. Republicans are ready to abandon that American tradition of generosity for the victims of disasters, just to insure the Federal Government doesn’t boost its net spending stimulating the economy before the 2012 election.
Then you have Ron Paul, with his usual nonsense. According to a post by karoli at Crooks And Liars, Ron Paul Thinks Hurricane Spending Wasteful; Touts Return To 1900:
“Ron Paul thinks “we should be like 1900” and return to the era before there was government assistance to help rebuild cities devastated by natural disasters. This seems to be a common theme among Republicans these days — the idea that there should be no disaster assistance to cities devastated by disaster. Like Joplin, MO. Or cities directly in the path of Hurricane Irene.
“In 1900, a hurricane made landfall in the city of Galveston, Texas, a city inside Ron Paul’s current Congressional district. The death toll was between 6,000 to 12,000 people and is regarded to be the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history.
This Republican view that the Federal government should not help Americans whose homes or businesses are damaged or destroyed by large natural disasters is not new. They began to argue this point during the Reagan administration, when so much of the Republican war against ordinary Americans began. They argued that people who lived or worked in places which are prone to natural disasters, such as flooding, fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, landslides, or whatever, did so at their own risk and should not expect Federal assistance. That covers most of the country. Where should we all live? I thought I had encountered the worst of Republican contemptibility a long time ago, but this position is so contemptible, it is inhuman. I literally cannot express my disgust and repugnance at this dismal bunch who represent only the very rich and the corporations. It is obvious that, as far as they’re concerned, the rest of us can go to hell. The majority of Americans think they’ve got it backwards.