As Tropical Storm Irene makes its way across northeastern Canada, many headlines throughout the U.S. say New York City escaped what might have been a major disaster.
Though reports and rolling coverage of what many people thought would be a near-apocalyptic event for the Eastern Seaboard dominated most of the mainstream media over the weekend, the storm hit with far less intensity than originally predicted. Some of the worst-hit areas like Vermont and North Carolina have experienced heavy flooding and large-scale power outages. Tornado spinoffs from the storm also caused some structural damage along the East Coast.
In an interview with the BBC, Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont said on Monday: “We prepared for the worst and we got the worst in central and southern Vermont. We have extraordinary infrastructure damage.”
The Christian Science Monitor reports that though the disaster was not as widespread as originally predicted, the cost of cleanup will be about $7 billion. President Barrack Obama, in a Sunday speech, praised government for its efforts leading up to the storm and warned that cleanup will be a long and costly process.
“The impacts of this storm will be felt for some time. And the recovery effort will last for weeks or longer,” he said.
Presidential hopeful Ron Paul disagreed that this cleanup process should be a Federal responsibility — especially, he said, at a time when the government has no extra money. In a speech to constituents in Galveston, Texas — an area frequently pummeled by hurricanes — the Congressman discredited the work of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), calling it a hindrance to individual disaster relief efforts.
“FEMA is not a good friend of most people in Texas because they only come in and tell you what you can and can’t do… they hinder the local people,” he said. “They contribute to deficit financing and, quite frankly, they don’t have a penny in the bank.”
Obama declared a state of emergency in Vermont on Monday, giving FEMA full authority to enter and begin work in the State. Over the weekend, FEMA was also dispatched to Virginia, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Delaware, Puerto Rico, Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington, D.C. as a result of presidentially declared disaster.