Did you know that the Federal Government made a game out of Natural Disaster Recovery and Preparation? You should, because you are a player. Responding to demand from state, local and tribal leaders, the National Disaster Resilience Competition was announced by the White House in June of last year.
The competition touts nearly $1 billion in available funds through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, identifying the ability of communities to recover from recent disasters as well as rebuild better and stronger for the future. According to the website:
“It will allow them (the communities) to engage local stakeholders, nongovernmental organizations and the philanthropic sector to protect their own communities from the impacts of climate change by enhancing resilient infrastructure, building on sound science, and deploying innovative approaches to investments.”
An unfortunate truth regarding the above statement is that it is observed in this parish that the recipient groups which fit this description locally are not accountable to the public, and choose to plan and initiate “projects” whether the public approves or not (or even knows at all).
Instead of public conversation, articles like “Why Didn’t New Orleans Bury Its Powerlines After Katrina?” appear on Nola.com. The NOLA article reveals that it is not cost effective for Entergy, and customer rates would increase. Haven’t they heard the old saying, “you’ve got to spend money to make money”? Wait, that’s only for suckers.
With hundreds of millions of federal taxpayer dollars at stake, every single thing imaginable, from beignets to buried power lines, will become Resilient. Resiliency will be the new State of Being. Resiliency: It’s the way to be! This feels like scripting for a reality show.
Why Does A National Natural Disaster Recovery Competition Remind Me Of The Hunger Games?
When the issue of Sophisticated Woman with Councilman Reid Falconer on the cover was released in June 2015, confusion set in first, then understanding. This concept was an episode of Parks & Recreation that I watched with Chelsea several months prior, in which Ron Swanson was chosen for a Woman of the Year award, to Leslie Knope’s dismay. Cute idea, but it gives rise to the unsettling reality that if the parish is reaching that far for material, perhaps we are watching things unravel in real time.
In furtherance of this train of thought, consider varied geographic locations across the country (districts, if you will) that experienced crippling disasters, competing with each other based on their own ability to recover from said disasters and prevent against future disasters for a monetary prize (hundreds of millions of dollars), all while struggling to survive a flailing economy, increasing taxes and a rising cost of living. I’ve seen that movie, and it wasn’t called the National Disaster Resilience Competition. Not that there’s anything wrong with resiliency, or for that matter, competition.
It’s just that taxpayer money is being used as a Prize in a Competition of communities who are still recovering from disasters. A “survival of the fittest,” competitive mentality does not correspond to the situation of natural disaster and economic recovery, nor does it lend itself to a realistic discussion of disaster and economic recovery.
Let the Resiliency Games begin, and may the odds always be in your favor.
Timothy Gates can be reached at email@example.com