Some doctors tell us that us “time heals all wounds.” Politicians promise that the “tincture of time will heal a lot of society’s ills.” Time does go by very quickly, but for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, a great deal remains to be done, and the public has to be reminded of it as often as possible.
For many weeks, all eyes were on the many New York and New Jersey communities that were leveled by this historic storm. Media reports were abundant, describing not only the loss and despair but the struggles of families to rebuild their lives, if not their homes. But with each passing day, the public moves on to other topics and other challenges.
The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have made their requests to the White House for emergency storm aid. The White House has in turn asked Congress for $60 billion for the rebuilding effort. At this point, whether the battered states will get any or all of the funds is up in the air. It seems that Congress is preoccupied with the so-called “fiscal cliff” threat, which is all the national media talks about.
While Washington politicians spend the bulk of their time posturing on which tax breaks rich people deserve, many of the victims of Sandy are still struggling to get their lives in order. Representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency are still a presence in Long Island communities, and they will be here for a long time. But every bureaucracy has its built-in red tape, and public officials must be vigilant to see that promised payments are made and that appeals don’t linger until hope begins to fade and despair sets in.
Insurance companies like to run commercials after every catastrophic storm, heralding their prompt response to requests for aid. But once the storm trauma fades from the news, unknown numbers of policyholders have to grapple with delays, low-ball settlement offers and denials for arbitrary reasons. Independent insurance adjusters rush to the scene of the disaster, but not all of them are competent, and some add to the angst of the homeowners.