The people in need of the most help today after the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy, are those living in a number of states along the East Coast that have lost power. And yet, at least according to Politico, while these people had the electricity necessary to get the information needed, neither the White House nor FEMA gave anyone instructions on where to turn for help or where to go for information in the event of a power outage:
When President Barack Obama urged Americans under siege from Hurricane Sandy to stay inside and keep watch on ready.gov for the latest, he left out something pretty important — where to turn if the electricity goes out.
Despite the heightened expectation of widespread power and cable television failures, everyone from the president to local newscasters seem to expect the public to rely entirely on the Internet and their TVs for vital news and instructions.
Everyone with an IQ above room temperature knew that one of the most crippling effects of Sandy would most certainly be widespread power and cable television outages — and yet, no one in charge at the White House even considered offering up information that included emergency telephone numbers or radio stations:
None of the major cable or local news channels put emergency phone numbers or key radio station frequencies on their screens. The only phone-related instructions on the homepage of ready.gov is how to get monthly disaster-prep text messages. The Federal Emergency Management Agency told the public via Twitter to use texts and social media outlets to stay informed.
TV and radio are still the primary methods of getting information about Hurricane Sandy to the public, but social media are increasingly important to those efforts, FEMA chief Craig Fugate said Monday.
Telephone landlines and battery-powered radios have always been important sources of information during natural and man-made disasters.
The biggest failure here is that the most vulnerable storm victims, the elderly, are all asking themselves, “What’s a social media?”
This is disaster preparedness at the most basic 101 leve,l and the White House has failed miserably.
“That’s a problem,” said Matt Thome, spokesman for the Safe America Foundation, a non-profit disaster preparedness advocacy organization based in Marietta, Ga. “As we get further away from a time when people aren’t relying on smartphones to do everything for them, people are going to lose focus that not everyone’s going to connect to the Internet. What happens when it goes down? That basic level of preparedness has been lost.”
Maybe if the White House had been paying more attention to the basics instead of the optics, who knows how many people currently sitting in a dark house and watching their mobile phone battery die would know what to do.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC