After weeks of victim shaming women during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Trump administration has moved onto shaming hurricane victims in the wake of Hurricane Michael’s tremendous devastation on Florida’s Gulf coast.
Brock Long, the administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), laid the blame for the extensive destruction caused by the natural disaster at the feet of unprepared Floridians who did not follow evacuation orders while speaking at a press conference yesterday.
Accusing local residents of not having “learned the lesson” of how dangerous hurricanes and their accompanying storm surges can be, Brock ignored the fact that the storm transformed from a mere tropical depression to a Category 4 hurricane unusually quickly, giving people in the area little time to prepare for the fast-moving weather event.
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“It’s frustrating to us because we repeat this same cycle over and over again,” Long said at the press briefing. “If you want to live in these areas, you’ve got to do it in a more resilient fashion.”
While Long stressed emergency preparedness and insurance as the first line of defense against these types of storms, the Trump administration continues to deny the role of humans in contributing to climate change that is increasing the ferocity of major storms and raising global temperatures, causing polar ice to melt and sea levels to rise, increasing the threat to coastal communities.
The FEMA Administrator may take a caveat emptor approach to people who decide to live in areas where storms can wreak havoc and don’t respond as quickly and as thoroughly as he’d like, but the Federal government’s own response to Hurricane Michael was not exactly the model of preparedness.
The U.S. Air Force housed a total of 55 F-22 stealth fighter jets at Tyndall Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle, each valued at $339 million. While they managed to move 33 of them to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, the whereabouts and condition of the remaining 22 aircraft valued at nearly $7.5 billion have not been disclosed according to The New York Times. The base itself has been characterized as a “complete loss” with many aircraft hangers and other buildings damaged and destroyed.
“We anticipate the aircraft parked inside may be damaged as well,” an Air Force spokeswoman said, “but we won’t know the extent until our crews can safely enter those hangars and make an assessment.”
While the FEMA chief’s frustration with local residents preparedness and state building codes may have some iota of validity until the administration realizes that human-initiated climate change is at the root of the problem of increasingly devastating storms — something that perhaps a multi-billion dollar loss to its military capability may help them confront — we can only expect the problems associated with violent weather events to increase every year.
You can watch FEMA head Brock Long’s press briefing in the video below.
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