The Islamic Post Blog

President Obama Declares Multiple Natural Disaster Emergencies by Khalida
March 25, 2009, 5:46 am
Filed under: March Volume 2009, National

By Jameelah Kareem
Islamic Post Staff Writer

(IP)- President Obama mentioned on March 13, in an offhand way, the accumulation of natural disasters in the country while discussing his budget proposal. “We could have painted a sunnier fiscal picture in this budget,” the President informed the Business Roundtable at the Regis Hotel in Washington, D.C. “We could have relied on some of the same gimmicks that our government has used for the last eight years: gimmicks that would hide spending on things like Iraq and Afghanistan, gimmicks like assuming that there’s never a natural disaster anywhere in the country over the course of a year,” he said. “Our deficit would appear $2.7 trillion better had we used those gimmicks over the next decade.”
It would seem from this that icy weather has been as much on Mr Obama’s agenda as have been the overseas wars and the economy. The President signed no less than six major disaster declarations in the past month or so. Unlike his predecessor and the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, President Obama seems to be wasting no time to look after the safety of the people struggling to survive natural emergencies.
The most comprehensive emergency declaration was the first to be signed, and authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to alleviate hardships caused by the recent severe winter weather storm that affected 8 states: Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Tennessee. Kentucky and Arkansas were hit the hardest with a total of 93 counties. Snow, sleet, and freezing rain has been blamed or suspected in at least 57 deaths nationwide; some of which include death from hypothermia, traffic accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning caused mainly by improperly ventilated propane and kerosene heaters, and people huddled in their dark and cold homes. Two elderly people and their special needs adult child died because of an improperly vented generator, another person died after using a charcoal grill as a heater for the house. The Associated Press reported guard troops arrived at the home of a 92 year old woman in Arkansas without food who was so relieved she broke down and cried.
Some have compared the ice storm of 2009 to be one of the worst storms they’ve ever seen and even tops the storm that hit in 2000. The Governor of Arkansas, Mike Beebe requested President Obama to upgrade the federal response in the state by declaring a major disaster, which would open the door for immediate financial assistance and aid to supplement State and local response efforts. The Governor of Kentucky had done likewise. FEMA’s response to this disaster is noted to have been a tremendous step up from the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. “We’re not just suffering from a deficit of dollars in this government, we’re suffering from a deficit of trust,” President Obama told the Business Roundtable. It appears he is working to rebuild that confidence in more ways than one.


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