America’s Response to 2020 Hurricanes

by Max He ’23

Source: Grist

Published Oct. 14th, 2020

Most people are used to hearing about a few hurricanes a year, especially in high risk zones like the tropics. However, over the past few months, an unprecedented number of hurricanes have appeared around the globe. Recently, five hurricanes were recorded at the same time over the Atlantic. This is only the second time that something of this caliber has happened in the Atlantic since the first hurricane was recorded in 1300 BC. 

Back in the spring of 2020, government officials were aware of how dangerous this year’s hurricanes could be, as the coronavirus pandemic greatly reduced the amount of resources on hand. With this knowledge, the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Association) had already begun brainstorming ideas on how to limit the impact caused by these storms. They ended up using their National Response Coordination Center, which was first activated this year to handle the coronavirus pandemic. 

The center planned to gear up for hurricane season by preparing certain locations for evacuation and recruiting volunteers to make up for the loss in numbers due to the pandemic. Yet, despite FEMA’s demonstrated effort in protecting people, there is no way to hide the fact that the mortality rate of this year’s hurricane season will be high. 

Because of the pandemic, food banks, soup kitchens, and supermarkets are running low on food to donate. Not only that, but because COVID-19 is still such a prevalent issue, it will be nearly impossible to keep social distancing rules in check when trying to bring people into shelters.

Amidst FEMA’s struggles to address the pandemic and hurricanes at the same time, some people are turning to our president for guidance. However, President Trump’s attention has not been focused on the natural disasters raging across the globe, despite having signed a full page advert in the New York Times that urged people to address climate change. President Trump has given little to no significant aid to the preparations that FEMA has set in response to this year’s hurricanes. 

What he has done is direct FEMA to assist state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as other eligible entities, with protecting the American public’s health and safety. However, this statement ignores the fact that FEMA has less resources than a year prior due to a 10 million dollar shift in funding from FEMA to ICE that was directed by the Trump administration. Without sufficient funding, FEMA has less money to buy supplies like N95 masks and gloves for its workers.

Overall, these hurricanes have shown how well first responders and FEMA can work together, but these storms have also revealed some of the darker aspects of the government, and how much trouble the world is in if we do not start taking serious actions to protect the environment.

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