Monday, December 11, 2023
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Wednesday, August 24, 2011
East Coast EQ: When Catastrophe Strikes
By Heritage Foundation @ 12:29 AM :: 4762 Views :: National News, Ethics

Yesterday at 1:51 p.m. Eastern Time, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck near a small town outside Washington, D.C., the strongest such tremor in 67 years. The geological event, which affected the eastern third of the United States, sent thousands of workers in our nation's capital (and in New York City) scurrying into the streets waiting for news of what to do next. Fortunately, the quake resulted in only some minor injuries and minor damage to buildings, a shortened workday, and gridlock on the streets of Washington, but it is a reminder of America's vulnerability to natural disaster—and that the United States must be prepared to ensure its homeland security.

The Heritage Foundation's James Carafano explains that when an earthquake strikes, "virtually every category of local emergency responder will be required" to help cope with physical injury, fire fighting, hazardous materials, ensuring public safety and restoring infrastructure, and providing shelter, food, and water for displaced persons, if necessary. Where a disaster is severe—earthquakes included—the federal government may deploy assistance.

But the federal government has taken on an increasing role in disaster response. In the new paper "Homeland Security 4.0," Heritage reports that America has over-federalized disaster response in a way that threatens the resiliency of the nation's communities. In his two and a half years in office, President Obama has issued 360 declarations without the occurrence of one hurricane or large-scale earthquake. That continues a 16-year trend during which declarations tripled from 43 under President George H. W. Bush to 89 under President Bill Clinton to 130 under President George W. Bush. As a result, Heritage notes, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is becoming distracted by responding to routine natural disasters instead of preparing for catastrophic natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, which could have a national impact:

The federalization of routine disasters requires FEMA to become involved with a new disaster somewhere in the United States every 2.5 days. This high operational tempo is affecting FEMA’s overall preparedness because it keeps FEMA perpetually in a response mode, leaving little time and few resources for catastrophic preparedness. With staffing levels and budgets only nominally above pre-1993 levels, it should be no surprise that FEMA is not prepared to handle a catastrophic disaster.

The federal government's increased involvement in natural disaster response is having an effect on state and local response, too. Heritage homeland security expert Matt Mayer explains that FEMA "has been responding to almost any natural disaster around the country, be it a contained three-county flood, or a catastrophe of near-epic proportions like Hurricane Katrina. As a result, many states and localities have trimmed their own emergency-response budgets, often leaving them ill prepared to handle even rain- or snowstorms without federal assistance. This leaves FEMA stretched far too thin and ill prepared to respond to grand-scale catastrophes." What's needed is an overhaul of the process for declaring federal disasters and dispensing homeland security grants.

Disaster response, though, isn't the only area where America's homeland security needs improvement. Fortunately, since September 11, 2001, the United States has thwarted at least 40 Islamist-inspired terrorist plots aimed at the United States. But the very fact that so many attempts have been made illustrates that defending the homeland is still a challenge. In the "Homeland Security 4.0" report, Heritage finds that "effective homeland security requires a more federalist, decentralized approach of working with state and local government and the private sector."

Heritage's proposals include establishing a framework for empowering state and local authorities to meet their responsibilities for disaster response and domestic counterterrorism operations; adopting a fair, honest, and realistic approach to immigration enforcement that recognizes state and local authorities as responsible partners rather than an "amnesty first" strategy; maintaining the use of key counterterrorism tools, such as those authorized under the USA PATRIOT Act; and rethinking the Transportation Security Administration and restructuring its mission.

Whether it's earthquakes or terrorist attacks, the United States must be prepared for threats to the homeland. But getting the nation's homeland security systems and responses right is among the most difficult challenges in Washington. Over-centralization, pervasive complacency, and entrenched politics stand in the way to more effective homeland security. Now is the time for Washington to make sure it gets it right instead of waiting for a catastrophe to strike.





TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Moms for Liberty

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii