Sunday, November 4, 2012

A new WPA and CCC could help with future disasters

(WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

In an article on the Huffington Post today, Staten Island residents claim that Hurricane Sandy relief efforts have been insufficient: "Official help has arrived in the last couple of days, but many residents say it's not enough and poorly organized" (click here for full article).

There are certainly many good and competent professionals who respond to natural disasters.  Victims of Hurricane Sandy would be in a much more horrific situation without them.  But could it be that manpower levels are simply inadequate for these larger types of natural disasters?

The WPA and CCC responded to many natural disasters during the New Deal era. Officials frequently complimented these agencies for the swiftness of their response.

According to the latest jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are still about 5 million Americans who are considered "long-term unemployed." Natural disasters, however frequent and whatever their cause, will continue to harm the nation.  Why not connect the dots?  Why not supplement our current volume of rescue workers with newly trained rescue workers from the ranks of the long-term unemployed?  They could fill support roles, or serve directly on the front lines, responding to wild fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, etc.

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