Meryl is mad at FEMA, Virginia, and others for the fact that it’s taking a few days to restore power and water after Isabel. Chuck says it’s really the fault of the hospitals, stores, and others who didn’t have backup plans. And the taxpayers who refused to allow themselves to be taxed more to provide for emergencies. Kevin isn’t saying who he blames.

Although there was quite a bit of destruction, contaminated water, and power outages within a couple miles of me, I was fortunate to escape those fates. Still, I’m not sure what it is the government should have done differently. When I lived in the Deep South, we occasionally found ourselves cripped by minor little snowstorms because 1) nobody down there knows how to drive in snow, let alone has snow chains and 2) there is zero snow plowing equipment there because it makes no sense to spend the money for something that’s needed every eight to ten years and takes care of itself in a day or two.

Similarly, Virginia isn’t hurricane country. If we lived on the beach and got hurricanes annually, then I’d expect more investment. But this was an unusual event. Verizon and Virginia Dominion Power have employed workers from all around the country to come in to work 16 hour days to get stuff fixed. I’m not sure it’s reasonable to expect anything more than that.

Update (1527) Not to mention the National Guard.

More than 2,500 Army and Air National Guard troops in five states and the District of Columbia turned out with chainsaws, trucks and water trailers to help people along the East Coast deal with the devastation of Hurricane Isabel.

They evacuated people from flooded island homes to shelters on higher ground. They helped local police departments prevent looting. They provided clean water and ice to communities with contaminated water systems. And they helped state transportation workers clean up the storm’s considerable debris.

“I am always impressed by their dedication, commitment and willingness to respond in a moments notice–at times putting their own well being at risk,” said Army Guard Col. Peter Aylward, who directed the National Guard Bureau’s Crisis Action Team in Arlington, Va.

Update (2038): Per a reader comment, this Mona Charen column is apropos.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. jen says:

    Yeah, I’m also amazed at the people who demand dry ice from the power companies when they lose electricity. I think PEPCO offered dry ice as a courtesy one time in a power outage and now it’s somehow expected to be the norm and responsibility of PEPCO to provide it for their customers. Odd.

  2. Paul says:

    Leave it to a little inconvenience to bring out the brat in most people.

  3. doug says:

    Sheesh, sounds like all the whining about Iraq. Deal with it, you had one hell of a storm.

  4. jen says:

    Maybe you already know about Mona Charen’s column from yesterday about the local whiners? Just seemed appropriate to this post.

  5. James Joyner says:


    I hadn’t seen it, but it’s a good piece. Thanks!