Americans like to complain about and question the role of government. However, when disaster strikes, Americans, who once scoffed at the idea of federal services, are typically the very people demanding federal assistance from government agencies like FEMA.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, works together with state and local emergency management officials to coordinate governmental responses to disasters that overwhelm the resources of local and state authorities in the United States. In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, FEMA can provide food, water, shelter and medical assistance for disaster victims as well as longer-term recovery assistance through low-interest loans to businesses and homeowners. FEMA has been involved in recovery efforts following natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires, and following man-made disasters, such as the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003 and the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Nevertheless, half the country truly believes the government, specifically the federal government, is never the solution and always the problem. Yet, they were silent during the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003, the September 11th terrorist attacks, the destruction caused by hurricanes Katrina, Irene, Issac, and now the inevitable devastation of hurricane Sandy. Moreover, the governor of any state impacted by a disaster will only receive assistance if they, not the federal governement, first declare a state of emergency and formally request from the president that FEMA and the federal government respond to the disaster. Not surprisingly, all governors representing states impacted by the aforementioned hurricanes jumped at the opportunity for federal assistance despite the fact that some have openly questioned the purpose and function of such services in the past.
The above Clay Bennett political cartoon raises serious questions concerning the function of government and federal services. Is government the solution or the problem? Is there any state in the union that is truly self-sufficient?