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The Relief Effort

After looking around at what various organizations are doing, I made a donation to Occupy Sandy Relief, community-based efforts organized by Occupy Wall Street activists.

They hit the streets in the affected communities and are getting people to jump-start their own recovery by working together and sharing what they have.

Meanwhile you have the ‘official effort’ that my Local Puppy Trainer notes that: Power returning after Sandy but gas problems rise.

The same brain trust that wanted to hold the New York Marathon, decided to give people 10 gallons gas. Great, a $50 value for free at only a few limited locations that are also expected to provide fuel to emergency vehicles in a city that is already in grid lock – what could possibly go wrong?

The problem with fuel is primarily a lack of power to operate service stations. There is fuel in the tanks, but no way of getting it out of the ground. We initially solved that problem locally by using the same manual fuel pumps that are common at marinas. You stick the intake into the tank and turn the crank to fill the ‘official 5-gallon can’. It was sold for cash 5-gallons at a time. My local station actually went totally retro and used a score stick to track the amount sold for accounting purposes. These days most gas stations either have a generator to power the pumps, or the connection to bring in a generator and just plug it in.

The Local Puppy Trainer also noted that Local emergency personnel head to disaster area. We have a lot of seasoned people who have had too much real world experience with disasters, and they go when they are called.

Having been in to major hurricane relief efforts [Opal in 1995, Ivan in 2004] I have to say that there is a problem in New York City. The effort has to be from the bottom-up to be effective. The Feds have all kinds of resources, but they need to know what is needed. Only the people at the bottom know what is destroyed, and what the needs are. The normal structure is city or town to county to state to the Feds. New York City doesn’t seem to be passing on what is obvious at the local level.

The Feds, FEMA, don’t take over, they provide resources, but they have to be asked because of the separation between the Federal government and the states. Hurricane Andrew was a prime example of this – the governor of Florida forgot that he had to ask for Federal assistance, and people were parked in trucks waiting to go while the victims suffered. As soon as the request was made, the trucks rolled.

Power companies have their own, separate, mutual assistance agreements, which is why they can get to work faster. The crews already know what they are going to need to do – repair overhead lines. A crew from New Jersey reconnected my house after Ivan.