Obama Policies Make Tornado Relief and Recovery Impossible
May 1, 2011 • 11:29AM

The damage from last week's tornadoes in the Southeast has been enormous, but the newness and the scale itself of the damage means that no full assessment will be available for some days. At last reports, power and communications were still down in large areas, rescuers were still working to find living victims or bodies under the rubble, and homeowners were still sifting through wreckage trying to salvage personal possessions.

But it is already clear that Obama's policies make recovery and even meaningful relief impossible, for as long as he is allowed to remain in the White House.

As EIR and LPAC have been documenting over the last few years, all 50 states are bankrupt, and are not capable of the type of adequate response that has been made necessary by last Wednesday's wave of tornadoes across the South. The contrast to state response to Hurricane Katrina is stark. In 2005, when states were in much better shape, fiscally, more than 30 states deployed 58,000 Army and Air National guardsmen to Louisiana and Mississippi in the aftermath of that storm. They conducted search and rescue missions, transported relief supplies, provided medical care and performed many other tasks in the wake of that storm. So far, in response to last week's tornadoes, about 3,000 National Guardsmen have been mobilized within the affected states, and there are no reports of mutual aid coming from other states. The states simply no longer have the capacity to respond as they did in 2005. The only federal military deployment so far, has been the setting up of a intermediate staging area at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama for use by FEMA to receive and distribute relief supplies.

In a disaster such as this, the federal government has to move quickly to provide resources for debris removal, relief supplies, including food and water, for the population, and temporary housing. In past disasters, the states always played a major role in recovery efforts, but, after three years of a preventable economic crisis that the Obama Administration has done nothing to relieve, the states no longer have the ability to lead such efforts, with police, fire departments, emergency management agencies and public works departments devastated by budget cuts. This collapse of public infrastructure could have been prevented by the re-imposition of Glass-Steagall followed by a national recovery program, but this has been prevented by Barack Obama, himself.

The tornadoes added to the past three years of economic destruction by taking out many of the local public and emergency capabilities that states and municipalities would ordinarily have to respond. In Alberta City, Ala., a tornado took out the fire station, leaving firefighters to begin rescue operations without their truck. In Tuscaloosa, the tornado demolished the Salvation Army, denying the city much needed shelter space. Sister Carol Ann Gray of the local Catholic Social Services office told AP that "It has been extremely difficult to coordinate because so many people have been affected — some of the very same people you'd look to for assistance." Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox told PBS-TV, yesterday, that the tornado left a path 5.9 miles long and half a mile to a mile wide through his city. It damaged or destroyed the homes of 15,000 people on the way. He said in the same interview that he's gotten everything he's asked for so far from state and federal emergency management officials, but "We're going to be relying on them even more in the coming days and weeks ahead as we transition into debris removal and finding housing for those that have lost everything."