Walmart’s actions during and after Hurricane Katrina have long been described as one of the few bright spots during that agonizing relief effort, as well as a transformative event for the world’s largest retailer.
Another outcome apparent after Katrina is that federal government agencies, and the presidents ultimately responsible for leading them, have been far more proactive when disasters strike, as they have wanted to avoid following in George W. Bush’s footsteps. Fair or not, that administration came across as ham-fisted long after Katrina slammed into Louisiana and neighboring Gulf states. As a result, it is doubtful there will be any room for a company to shine through in Houston as Walmart did 12 years ago – though Walmart itself has been updating stakeholders about what the company is doing to support Hurricane Harvey recovery across Texas.
While companies have a critical part in assisting relief efforts with their supplies, staff and facilities, Harvey reminds us of the role that “big government” has in preparing, notifying and helping citizens during this time of need. Many of these agencies, from NASA to NOAA to the EPA, have come under scrutiny – or more accurately, attack - in recent years for their various roles in researching climate change, boosting environmental protection efforts, or both.
The timing is also prescient considering the sniping that is already underway between Texas Senator Ted Cruz and his critics. Cruz obviously supports aid efforts for his home state, yet he voted against federal Hurricane Sandy relief packages during his first year in office. He claims he voted against the $50 billion Sandy relief bill because it was loaded with “pork” but that claim has been proven untrue by many. Cruz even got a rebuke from New York’s Peter King, a Republican representative from Long Island.
And as Cruz announces how and where Texans can receive state and federal assistance, we at 3p thought we would point out the role “big government” has in warning, protecting and helping citizens during catastrophes such as Harvey. As the recent viper pit of a debate over healthcare has proven, many of us are against government in any form – until we need it or there is a risk a program will be taken away from us, even if what is available is imperfect.
These agencies are just a few of the moving parts that manage recovery when disaster strikes.
Image credit: DVIDS
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's worked an lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.