Another year, another crisis made worse by the fact that the Iraq War is making it difficult for America to respond to natural disasters here at home, as this Newsweek story points out. And if America can't adequately respond to natural disasters, then how can we possibly be prepared to respond to the next Al-Qaeda attack?
By Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey
The grim images have become sadly familiar. Flattened homes, destroyed buildings—and a president picking his way through the rubble to show his concern for the disaster victims. Today it was Greensburg, Kans., where a deadly tornado left at least 11 dead as it leveled most of the town last Friday.
Arriving in Greensburg under dark, overcast skies, President Bush got his first look at the tornado damage during a helicopter tour aboard Marine One. Afterward, he took to the city by foot, viewing up close obliterated houses and businesses, including a John Deere dealership cluttered by smashed-up tractors and combines. He was joined on his tour by Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and other state and local officials. "I am struck by the character of the people here," Bush told reporters on the scene. "They are willing to do what it takes to rebuild. America is blessed to have such people." He vowed to "get whatever help is appropriate here--as quickly as possible."
It was a brief nod to the political storm that has overtaken the catastrophe in Greensburg. Since Friday it has seemed a little like déjà vu in Washington: The Bush White House sparring with a Democratic governor over the emergency response to a devastating natural disaster.
But this wasn’t Hurricane Katrina. On Tuesday, nearly two years after the storm that thrashed the Gulf Coast and savaged Bush’s approval ratings, the White House got caught up in a game of finger-pointing over the handling of the Greensburg tornado.
It all started when Sebelius, a Democrat, told reporters that tornado recovery efforts would likely be slowed because much of the state’s National Guard equipment remains in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I don’t think there is any question that if you are missing trucks, Humvees and helicopters that the response is going to be slower," Sebelius told reporters Monday. "The real victims here will be the residents of Greensburg because the recovery will be at a slower pace."
Story continues here.
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