June 2, 2007

N&O: Easley says N.C. ready for storms

Today marks Yesterday marked the beginning of hurricane season. so I decided to write about the war in Iraq. One striking element of our Presidents failed policy in Iraq is that he has never called for real national sacrifice on our part. There is no Rosie the Riveter, no gas rationing and no relinquishing of personal freedoms (oh yeah there is that). Really the war doesn't have much impact on most Americans. We see the death and devastation on TV but we don't see impact in our daily lives. That may be about to change in a big way for those of us in coastal Carolina.
When that terrible tornado hit Greenburg Kansas I was struck by the reaction of that state's governor. She blasted President Bush on the impact of the war on that state's emergency preparedness. It seems shipping National Guard troops off to Iraq had depleted both the manpower and equipment needed to fill a major NG role, response in local emergencies. I was curious if this was true for NC as well. A couple of weeks ago I emailed Gov. Mike Easley and asked him if NC was in the same situation as Kansas. Had National Guard deployments impacted the state emergency preparedness. Apparently I wasn't the only person asking the governor about the issue. Last Thursday he took time out to make a public statement about the readiness of the National Guard to meet the state's emergency needs this summer:
Gov. Mike Easley sought to reassure North Carolinians the state's storm-seasoned disaster team can handle all but the most devastating tropical cyclone.

But the governor also said a key member of that team, the N.C. National Guard, is short of equipment and stretched thin by troop deployments to Iraq and elsewhere. That means North Carolina will need help from other states if struck by anything stronger than a Category 3 storm, such as Hurricane Fran in 1996.

"We feel comfortable with what we have at this point," said Easley, who has been sharply critical of the repeated war deployments of National Guard units. "We'd like more equipment, but we think we're prepared."

Gov. Easley happens to know a lot more about this issue than this article lets on. He has been talking about this impact for sometime. While digging into the Greenburg tragedy I found an interesting comment on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's website. It seems that Gov. Easley is co-lead on National Guard issues for the National Governors Association. He was talking about the reduction on emergency response capabilities as early as Feb. He is one of many government and military leaders that Speaker Pelosi cites in her discussion of this issue.
Two bloggers that I respect, one independent and one thoughtfully conservative, have weighed in recently on the war. The growing consensus about the war is fueled by the increasing level of impact on the war on our everyday lives. The sacrifice the Pres. refuses to call for is increasingly apparent. President Bush refuses to acknowledge just how much the war is costing this country, to the point of denying even the impact on our national readiness for storm season.
Lets hope we don't have to find out if Gov. Easley is right in saying we are ready. NC has an excellent record in emergency response. The state gets it. They train and prepare and make sure the locals do the same. I doubt there are many states that do it better. We are fortunate in Dare County to have a good response program in place. The people who make the hard decisions about storm response and the people who advise them are well trained and experienced at what they do. They use the right tools to make well informed decisions based on the only thing that matters, public safety.
This year the equation will be a little different. The local planners will need to be a little more prepared to respond, ready to hold the fort a little longer until the cavalry arrives. The cavalry is in Iraq. Local planners expect the state to move in quickly after a major storm. Day one is a local operation evaluating needs but on Day 2 the state start sending men and material into the affected areas. This year it may take the state longer to respond or be less capable in its' response or both. The war is taking its toll.
I am not suggesting that we base our countries foreign policy on the possibility of troops being needed for emergency response. I am saying that the war's cost is coming home, to Greenburg Ks. and possibly to Dare County in very important ways. Lets hope the sacrifices we make remain in the planning stages and that we don't have to learn the lesson that Greenburg did. Happy hurricane season.


At 4:12 PM, Blogger Monticello said...

I remember thinking the same thing when I heard the Kansas Gov's statements. In fact, until that time, this singular aspect of the war had totally escaped me. I just don't get it. All you can do is shake your head and pray for peace.


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