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Obama’s Extended Federal Family Responds to Sandy

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Before the hurricane made landfall, FEMA organized search and rescue teams, sent 139 ambulances to New York, and established support centers with supplies like generators and blankets in New Jersey and Massachusetts.  By Monday evening, when the storm hit New Jersey with winds of 80 miles an hour, FEMA had already delivered hundreds of thousands of ready-to-eat meals and bottled water for New Jersey residents who might need it. There would be no Superdome fiasco in New Jersey or New York.

By Wednesday, President Obama joined Christie in New Jersey to assess the devastation in person. A clearly exhausted Christie, who had previously been a vocal critic of the President, expressed strong support for Obama’s response to the storm, saying:

“The president has been all over this, and he deserves great credit.”

President Barack Obama embraces Donna Vanzant, owner of a New Jersey marina damaged by Hurricane Sandy. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

 

When tragedy occurs, we all naturally turn to our families first, brothers and sisters, parents and cousins, aunts and uncles who we know we can depend on, who we know will give us comfort and relief.

Obama sees government as an extended family. He referred to the federal agencies he collected to respond to Hurricane Sandy as a federal family. We all have immediate biological families, but we all also belong to the American family. We share American experiences and values, privileges and responsibilities.

President Obama has said many times that he believes we all are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. Here’s what he says in his speeches:

“Yes, our road is longer, but we travel it together. We don’t turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up.”

That is what he sees American family members doing for each other. That is how Americans pull together to help fellow Americans struck by tragedy. And when the tragedy is of gargantuan proportions, Obama believes that to respond effectively, the federal family must be more than competent. It must be good to do good.

In addition to providing the bottled water and rescue teams, the federal family must, just as any good family member would, just as President Obama did in New Jersey, wrap consoling arms around the traumatized.