Rebuilding and recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
In the past few days, millions of Americans were directly affected by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. We’re all safe here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), but some of us did suffer property damage and dislocation. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have lost so much, including manufacturers, in the path of the storm.
I live two blocks from the flooded intersection in the adjacent photo, in lower Manhattan. [PHOTO courtesy of jesseand greg instagram], just a few blocks from the Con Edison power plant located at 14th Street and Avenue C. That Con Ed station flooded during the storm, subsequently suffering a violent explosion (see video below). Severe damage to the power plant means that portions of lower Manhattan will be without power for the near future.
As recovery begins for the eastern United States, questions will inevitably emerge. What will be the legacy of Hurricane Sandy? How prepared is the United States to cope with such a disaster? And how well can the nation successfully rebuild?
The economic shocks of this disaster could be severe. The devastated boardwalks along the coast, the thousands of houses damaged by falling trees, the lost power plant in NYC-- these are just a few examples. But there's also the lost food and medicine due to failed refrigeration, the disruption of the closed New York Stock Exchange, the worrisome project of cleaning and clearing New York's flooded subway tunnels... The list goes on.
The longer-term issue is whether the U.S. possesses the overall capacity to rebuild so many homes and businesses, and whether tax dollars invested in this recovery may "leak" overseas due to inadequate oversight.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina revealed the pitfalls of such flawed sourcing when tens of thousands of U.S. homes were rebuilt with toxic drywall imported from China.
Experience shows that outsourcing is not the way to go in recovering from Hurricane Sandy. It would simply put our nation further in the hole-- more debt, fewer jobs, a diminished capacity to produce the key components of national life.
To get this recovery right, America's elected officials need to ensure that tax dollars are invested here at home. America has done this before-- bravely recovering from previous disasters. But the odds are increasingly against us. Outsourcing is a challenge that needs to be overcome, and the United States is more at risk than ever due to the offshoring of critical manufacturing sectors and a reliance on foreign suppliers.
According to a recent report (co-authored for the Alliance for American Manufacturing by Gov. Tom Ridge, the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Col. Robert B. Stephan, a former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security for Infrastructure Protection), there is a direct connection between a strong domestic manufacturing sector and America’s ability to recover and rebuild after a catastrophe.
The bottom line according to the report is that revitalizing America’s domestic manufacturing capacity must become a clear and urgent national priority at all levels of government and among industry leaders.
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