On Tuesday, October 30, the day after Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, New York City, and Long Island with devastating losses, Mitt Romney converted his Kettering, Ohio campaign rally into a storm relief effort. He personally loaded bottled water onto a truck that quickly headed east to aid the storm victims.
In contrast to its stated “lean forward” policy, which calls for the advance staging of critical inventory in nearby storage facilities, FEMA’s bottled water and pre-packaged food didn’t arrive in New Jersey until that same day, twenty four hours after the storm hit. Most of the agency’s large inventory of bottled water and pre-packaged meal supplies remained in FEMA warehouses in Georgia and Maryland even as residents of New Jersey, New York, and Long Island struggled to secure the basic necessities of daily life.
Significant local distribution of FEMA-provided bottled water and pre-packaged meals didn’t begin in New York City until late Thursday, seventy-two hours after the storm hit. Local distribution of bottled water and pre-packaged meals throughout the areas hard hit by Sandy remains uneven. Some areas have too much, while many others remain without water and food almost a week after the storm hit.
On Wednesday, President Obama held a 90 minute photo-op in New Jersey with Governor Christie, then quickly flew out of the state to continue campaigning in other states.