Sen. Reid: Sandy Worse Than Hurricane Katrina

Not only is Harry Reid incredibly insensitive to the 1,000+ people who lost their lives in Hurricane Katrina, he’s a liar on two counts when he says 1) it’s been two months and “we” haven’t gotten to New York and New Jersey and 2) when he says Sandy was worse than Katrina:

I really do believe it is important that I have the record reflect the reason we have gotten as far as we have on Sandy is because of the senior Senator from New York. It is too bad that it has taken so long. When we had that devastation from Katrina, we were there within days taking care of Mississippi, Alabama, and especially Louisiana—within days. We are now past 2 months with the people of New York and New Jersey.

The people of New Orleans and that area, they were hurt but nothing in comparison to what happened to the people in New York and New Jersey. Almost 1 million people have lost their homes; 1 million people lost their homes. That is homes, that is not people in those homes. So I think it is just unfortunate that we do not have the relief for New York and New Jersey and the rest already. It has to be done. We have to meet the needs of the American people when an act of God occurs.

Reid is really arguing apples and oranges. The immediate needs of New York and New Jersey are being met — the apples. People of the area might not be happy with the pace of reconstruction, but only in the land of unicorns can reconstruction be done faster. The recent $9.7 billion allocated to FEMA was so that the insurance program didn’t run out of money, not that it was out of money and not able to make disbursements.  Here are the numbers from FEMA. If Reid would like to dispute these numbers, then I look forward to it:

And to Reid’s second lie, PolitFact has already ruled a similar claim “mostly false“:

Environment New Jersey claimed that October’s Hurricane Sandy is “the most destructive Atlantic storm, ever.” Sandy may be the most destructive storm to hit a part of the Eastern Seaboard but in terms of most destructive Atlantic storms, that title goes to Katrina, which formed in the Atlantic and whose damages topped $100 billion, according to Hurricane Center data. Sandy, however, is very high on the list, with damages totaling at least  $82 billion. Still, that’s not number one in today’s dollars or compared with storms adjusted for inflation in 2010. We rate this statement Mostly False.

Now for the oranges — the long term funding — which is what Reid is whining about. What New Jersey and New York politicians want is money to make the areas hardest hit by Sandy safer. For example, Sen. Menendez is quoted in the Star Ledger:

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreed that while settling claims is crucial, money to rebuild infrastructure and protect the coastline against future storms is just as important, if not moreso.

“The Army Corps beaches we had saw very little consequence to property and lives,” U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said, referring to areas where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built flood protections. “Where we did not, we saw terrible consequences … We don’t need another Super Sandy all we need is a bad Nor’easter and we’re in trouble.”

Well, yes. Building homes yards from the ocean or on barrier islands does entail certain risks from storms, even a “bad Nor’easter.” That’s always been the case.

Why should taxpayer dollars rebuild areas that will just get flooded again? The Obama administration has suggested that rebuilding the area won’t be “business as usual“:

Speaking in Lower Manhattan at a conference on waterfront restoration organized by the Municipal Art Society and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Mr. [Shaun] Donovan [U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development] said long-term redevelopment would go beyond repairs and “just recreating what was there.”

He said the recovery would require building sturdier structures but also questioning whether rebuilding makes sense in some cases. He later told reporters that “the vast majority of communities can be rebuilt safely.”

He said making a recovery would involve “thousands of decisions” on matters like what materials to use, how to protect New York Harbor and ways to improve infrastructure like long-neglected tunnels and transit systems.

“Our response won’t be business as usual,” he said. “We need to harness this momentum to address weaknesses we’ve known about for years.”

Mr. Donovan was short on specifics, saying, “My job is to come in and work with states and local communities to decide what the vision is and what makes sense.”

Well, we still don’t have any specifics, do we?

Of further note, Gov. “Climate Change Is Real” Christie, Mayor Bloomberg, and Governor Cuomo need to put their money where their climate-change mouths are. If they really, truly believe the models bandied about, then they should be the first ones calling for new zoning, moving housing away from the ocean and other steps that would economically devastate their respective beach communities.

They can’t have it both ways. If the rising ocean is such a threat, they shouldn’t be asking for federal dollars to rebuild houses in its path.

Or, maybe they’re just hypocrites.


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