Mitchell L. Moss writes for CNN.com about the relationship between urban policy and disasters. Much has been made of how the disaster will affect the national election, but as Moss points out it’s Mayor Bloomberg, Governors Cuomo and Christie, and other mayors who will deal with the fallout from Sandy. And he also points out that people experience disasters locally.
t takes a disaster to remind us how much we depend on our local and state governments. In the middle of a presidential campaign, Hurricane Sandy has put Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on the sidelines, reminding us how much we count on mayors and governors to protect us, to rescue us and to keep our streets, buses, subways, airports and commuter rails running.
After a season of debates about the deficit, taxes and health care, Americans have discovered that they cannot survive without government: to provide clean water, reliable transportation systems, and emergency services when floods, fires and power outages force them to abandon their homes. There is one simple lesson we can learn from Hurricane Sandy: We cannot ignore the essential infrastructure that moves people, information and goods.
These systems are under the control of mayors and governors — not presidents, senators or members of Congress. More than two-thirds of the funds spent on transportation come from states and localities, not from the federal government. And with todays current emphasis on cutting the federal deficit, states will need to do more since the federal government is clearly in retreat, at home and overseas.
I hope that the awareness of our collective reliance on government doesn’t fade as quickly as such realizations usually do.