Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A State of Emergency

Starting this weekend, Hurricane Sandy had most of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States on the edge of our seats. Officials at the federal, state, and local levels of government declared various states of emergency for most of the jurisdictions in our region and beyond.

For the most part, Montgomery County avoided a direct hit.

Other places like New York and New Jersey didn’t fare as well.

Nevertheless, emergency officials within the projected storm zone sprung into action to minimize the effects of the storm. Crews from all over the country were mobilized and stood at the ready to respond to emergencies during the storm and in its aftermath.

It is my contention that the power of the coordination that we are seeing is directly related to the level of preparedness, and collaboration that happened long before the storm was headed our way. Thank goodness for this kind of capacity and willingness to work together in times of acute need and disaster. I wish we could activate this kind of capacity more often—in crisis and out of crisis.

Lastly, what exactly constitutes a state of emergency? How about 200,000 people in our own county—one of the most prosperous in America—that live at or below poverty? Let’s not even mention the seemingly insurmountable gap between what we call poverty and the self-sufficiency standard— what families in Montgomery County really need in order to live comfortably without social service support. How about the opportunity gap that persists even in our world class, high performing schools in Montgomery County and the state of Maryland? How about the fact that the United States of America incarcerates a greater share of its citizens, (and a disproportionate number of people of color), than any other country on the planet (visit www.prisonsucks.com for more details).

We may have avoided the full brunt of Sandy’s gale force winds, but I see other storms brewing on the horizon and right here in our own back yard—how about you?