Stop the Dead Lines in Disaster Response

Target: Chris Murphy, Chair of Senate Subcommittee on Homeland Security

Goal: Advocate for strengthening of federal emergency response for natural disasters.

Communities on opposite sides of the country have endured weather-related tragedy. In New York, a brutal blizzard that dumped over four feet of snow and plummeted places like Buffalo into freezing temperatures caused the deaths of about 40 people. And in California, punishing wind and rainstorms flooded streets, toppled structures, and cut countless individuals off from power supplies. At least a dozen people have died as a result. Now, families are burying their dead discovered in places from homes and cars to swimming pools. Thousands of miles apart, they are united in their grief and in a shared anger.

Residents, especially in Buffalo, have harshly criticized a lack of preparedness for the catastrophes that befell them. During the blizzard, thousands of emergency calls were not answered and when responses did happen, they often came far too late. The recent images harken back to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when widespread failures in federal emergency response left nearly 1,400 stranded Americans to die in residences, stores, stadiums, and even hospitals.

Despite various claims of and even legal acts of reform post-Katrina, obvious deficiencies still remain in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The agency’s approval rate for assistance for disaster survivors recently hit a record low. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s devastating impact on Puerto Rico, the agency planned to invest not in a clean energy grid but in restoring fossil fuel infrastructures. And months after flooding ravaged Kentucky, people are still living in a refugee-like state and waiting for FEMA’s notoriously slow aid to arrive.

With climate change now in full-force and extreme weather events on the rise, this nation’s emergency preparedness and response needs to be at the top of its game, not constantly falling short. Sign the petition below to demand leaders strengthen the National Response Framework for critical emergencies.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator Murphy,

Engaged partnership and a readiness to act are central tenets of the U.S. National Response Framework. FEMA plays a crucial role in fulfilling these responsibilities, yet time and again it has failed in its mission…to the extreme detriment of Americans.  Past survivors of natural disasters are still awaiting promised aid to this day, and communities currently in the midst of tragic loss and rebuilding once again feel their leaders have failed them.

Pleas for help are going unanswered, both in the moment of emergencies and long after. During the worst of times, the last thing a community should feel from its leadership is abandonment. Please go back to the drawing board on the Katrina Reform Act of 2018 and demand a stronger Federal Emergency Management Agency in words and, more importantly, in action. And stop using the tiered response approach to forego and brush off life-and-death responsibilities.

Assure communities that their national leaders will be at the ready on day one of a critical emergency…for the people of New Orleans….for the people of Kentucky….for the people of New York….for the people of California….and for every American whose life will be fundamentally altered in the future by the unforgiving effects of the climate crisis.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Storm05


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