Why don’t we take care of our people?

The fires in California are heartbreaking for the people who resided there.  They have now been uprooted, lost their homes, lost loved ones and any semblance of their normal routines.  The shelters that have been erected for them are sub-par.  People are getting sick, there is a shortage of housing and a few weeks from now I can’t imagine the mental toll it will take on every survivor particularly the children.

Time and time again tragedies take place and we read, watch and see the everlasting tragedy unfold without a clear plan to help these people get back to some sense of normalcy as soon as possible.  Why don’t we take better care of our own people when tragedy strikes?

The economic longtail makes sense for our country to erect make-shift homes immediately, to bring in social workers to help with the stress, to make food available, get the kids back in school, help with jobs and medicine.  Most of the people affected by the fires do not have the means to get themselves back on their feet.  It is heartbreaking.

At what point will we realize that jobs, preventative medicine, food and shelter for all creates a better economy for everyone?

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    I wonder where the motivation for social good comes from honestly. From goodness. From the fact that it is a good business.I believe that the reasons, the means are part of the end of course.But when I think back to the story of how when they first started marketing recycling in the city they first took the high road–good for the world pov and it stalled.They then made it a social issue, that all of your friends and neighbors were doing this, it took off.Food for thought.You are right, we must get there. But the mass market processes things differently and raises the question about the how of making it so.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Good points.I don’t understand how people don’t care about social good

      1. awaldstein

        more and more it is becoming all I care about.

  2. LE

    Will note that the same type of thing happened with Puerto Rico.The question is is this a State or a Federal issue?If the Federal government gets (more) involved then it provides less incentives for the State to think ahead (or to prepare a response).Also moral hazard. If you constantly dig people out of a mess then how does that make them think before acting in a way that invites danger? (Not here but a general concept). I was just told that a house that I was looking at close to the beach could not be improved more than 50% of assessed value without raising it off the ground (or rebuilding raising it off the ground). The government basically saying ‘we are not digging you out of this mess’. You live near a forest in California where it doesn’t rain much so that is a risk you take, right? Not a risk where I am, I live among trees and it rains all the time. No worry about fire where I am. (Hate the rain..) That said a new neighbor just cut down all their trees near their house (looks terrible).One last thing. Why is it different if some bad event happens to a large group of people rather than 1 or 5 people? If there was a fire that burned down 2 houses nobody would care about it and the government would in no way get involved (State or Federal). The response would be ‘do you have fire insurance’. I am not saying this isn’t different (community impact your point) but it’s certainly interesting that you are almost always in a better place (help wise) if you are a member of a large group with a problem than if it just happens to you as an individual.

    1. JLM

      .There is a formal emergency preparedness infrastructure which starts with municipalities and then flows to counties, states, and the Federal government.The responsibility starts with the geography – those closest to the natural disaster react first followed by action up the line. Cities and counties liaise routinely while states are usually “asked in” to participate.A state must request Federal assistance — the Feds cannot render assistance without a request from the state — and the designation of a “disaster” by the Federal government. Usually this request goes from a Governor to the President.The reason this is so formal and important is because there is a cost sharing formula which is imposed with at least 15% of the cost being borne locally. Under certain circumstances, the Feds also will provide grants for the 15%. This is done by the Congress well after the fact.Many states, like Texas, have Raindy Day Funds on hand for just this eventuality as it speeds the Federal assistance.When the Feds jump in, they have a complete package of services from FEMA, the Corps of Engineers, the US Coast Guard, the National Guard (nationalized and paid for by the Feds).FEMA stockpiles tons of housing, water, and food. They also control tons of vendors who do this all the time — mostly for hurricanes. This is a huge business.Disaster relief is one of the things the government does well. It is, also, very expensive.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  3. panterosa,

    As a designer, I have often wanted to help with the $1 or less kit which can be airdropped. Some sort of string backpack with mylar and slim poles to erect shelter, and some basic garment like poncho and socks. The next level requires the tent to be for more people and longer, water jug, lifestraw and so on. Whatever items are like the above are not nearly quick enough to deliver and assemble as they should be. They should be free to recipient, at cost to provider, and the design donated. Do you follow any of this type of support?

    1. Gotham Gal

      I have seen some of the housing that can build quickly and architectural projects around this.

      1. JLM

        .If a state requests Federal assistance — the Feds cannot assist unless asked by the state — there are several different forms of housing assistance.FEMA can provide trailers, housing, and underinsured or uninsured grants as well as disaster relief loans.The entire process is handled on the Web or in person and turnaround times are less than 3 days. Grants are up to $30,000. [I volunteered to administer a FEMA loan operation and saw it up close. I ended up doing no work, but I saw how it worked. The money flowed like the rain itself. Deposits were made directly into victims’ bank accounts.]If you receive a FEMA trailer you cannot receive other housing assistance. If you receive a FEMA trailer it is free and you can live in one for up to 18 months.Direct housing assistance is in the form of pre-paid housing or a cash supplement and is for a shorter period of time consistent with the beneficiary’s actual risk — do they have an insured home which can or will be rebuilt?FEMA spends about $62,500 for a trailer, $23,000 for installation, and then $15,400 for maintenance. The average cost of freight, or transportation, is $5,000. This is how the media picks up the $100K FEMA trailer meme.Disaster relief housing is not permanent housing, but it will help a victim through the storm.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…