Politics and Disaster Relief: North Carolina is Losing Out

There is a fascinating article in the Christian Science Montitor today. The article looks at research that examines the relationship between natural disasters over the last 45 years and federal relief of the disasters. One important finding of the article is that different states received different levels of aid. In particular North Carolina did a poor job in receiving aid.

When she looked beyond the trends in losses, "what struck me was how ineffective certain states have been in getting presidential disaster declarations" over the past 40 years. For example, she continues, North Carolina and South Carolina have seen significant losses, yet have garnered relatively few disaster declarations, while North Dakota also has endured similarly high losses and has been "very good" at getting the declarations.

The article goes on to note that one difference in the amount of aid has been whether a state is seen as crucial for reelection.

For example, the presidents of the 1990s were more likely to declare disasters in key states during reelection campaigns than in states deemed less critical to the outcome, according to a study he helped to conduct.

The only other correlation that the article found relating to the level of aid was that states that had senators in positions overseeing FEMA had received more aid.

Beyond the interesting note that Jesse Helm's alleged power during this period was not used to bring federal disaster aid to NC, there are two possible reactions to this news. 1) You could be outraged that politics are playing a role in disaster relief. Or 2) You could chalk this up to one more reason to turn North Carolina into a swing state.

I personally chose both. It is outrageous that emergency management of all things cannot be managed in an objective manner. Relief aid should be independent of politics. But these findings also reinforce the fact that it is imperative that any state that wants to receive attention from the federal government become a swing-state. Just another way that voting Republican hurts NC.