Kuntz: Don't roll back FEMA


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On Oct., Hurricane Sandy struck the Eastern Seaboard, wreaking havoc on New Jersey, New York, and other areas, damaging millions of homes with winds that stretched for 900 miles.

No state should be expected to rebuild itself alone when such devastation hits. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is, at present, the best way to keep the nation united and strong in the face of national disasters.

But not all agree, all the time.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said during the primaries last year that states should be responsible for their own disaster relief.

“Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction,” Romney said during a primary debate June 13, 2011, responding to a question specifically about FEMA.

This was not unlike Romney — he often says that states should have more responsibilities and the federal government should have fewer programs and states should have greater responsibilities.
It is also not unlike Romney to change his mind, as he did last week in releasing a statement saying that as president he would ensure funding for FEMA.

FEMA, as are many government agencies, is expensive and does not always act efficiently, as many who have lived in Iowa City before 2008 know very well.

Yet under the Obama administration in response to Hurricane Sandy, FEMA prepared and worked quickly to help those with greatest need.

As of Nov. 3, approximately 85,000 people had applied for assistance and around $18 million had been issued to victims. FEMA is working with the Red Cross to provide expanded assistance, and Obama received praise by many, most prominently Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, for a swift and early response.

We are one nation made of many states. Though smaller state governments have a better understanding of states’ needs on a lot of issues, when disaster strikes, states that get hit cannot always help themselves.

No state should suffer alone because of a disaster, and federal emergency support such as what comes from FEMA, when controlled by an efficient administration, deserves unwavering support.

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