A year since Superstorm Sandy, some improvements are strictly cosmetic

Posted by LDonia on 10/30/2013

Last year, just after Superstorm Sandy, we shared quite a memorable photo (top) of a flooded Manhattan street.

At the time, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) wrote:

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.

As the "now" photo above shows, things are relatively normal for that block in New York. Everything's clean. Cars are no longer submerged ... you know, the bare minimum of what one would expect in an urban environment. But what about that other part? The part where AAM warned that foreign outsourcing could be highly detrimental to the country's ability to recover following a catastrophe or natural disaster?

That part of the problem hasn't improved. AAM President Scott Paul wrote in Real Clear Politics today:

It is worrisome that, in the aftermath of Sandy, we were able to tweet videos of devastated beach communities, but were unable to quickly provide any made-in-America transformers to supply power to those who desperately needed it.

That’s because our domestic capacity to respond to a crisis has become tenuous due to an increasing reliance on foreign suppliers. The United States depends heavily on overseas producers for everything from steel, cement, batteries, and high-technology components to everyday medical supplies like antibiotics. The risks resulting from this include limited access to construction materials, delayed delivery times, and the questionable quality of imported items.

This loss of production capacity, combined with a crumbling infrastructure, forms a natural weakness in America’s ability to respond quickly to a disaster.

Still, we’re only tied to this fate as long as we allow ourselves to be. As the saying goes: Never let a crisis go to waste. So let’s not. Let’s press our elected officials for a future disaster-preparedness strategy, and make sure a strong manufacturing sector is a key component.

Read more about how outsourcing is affecting the U.S.'s ability to respond to disasters.

'Then' image by instagram user JesseandGreg; 'Now' image by Steven Capozzola.

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