Friday, October 4, 2013

Karen Karma

No one — especially someone who lived through a couple of hurricanes — would wish a natural disaster on anyone.  The wind and the rain hurts everyone regardless of their political views, and we would hope that after it’s over, there wouldn’t be any reason for them to get help when they need it.  A government shutdown shouldn’t stop FEMA and the National Guard and all the other emergency services.

It looks like Nature is planning on proving that point:

TS Karen 10-04-13

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) declared a state of emergency on Thursday as the only-partially-shut-down National Hurricane Center warned that Tropical Storm Karen could become a hurricane by early Saturday.

An advisory issued Thursday said that the tropical depression had strengthened to a tropical storm after winds hit 65 m.p.h. The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for the Gulf Coast from Grand Isle, LA, to Indian Pass, FL.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said that President Obama had been updated about the storm during a Thursday morning briefing, and had directed FEMA to recall some furloughed employees to begin to prepare for Karen. 11,468 out of the 14,729 employees at FEMA were deemed essential and stayed on staff, so recalled staff would be in addition to that number.

Visitors to the National Hurricane Center’s website see a message at the top explaining why they are still able to see hurricane warnings: “Due to the Federal Government shutdown, and most associated web sites are unavailable. However, because the information this site provides is necessary to protect life and property, it will be updated and maintained during the Federal Government shutdown.”

Most reporting on the impacts of the shutdown briefly mentions that the Center will continue to track storms. Forecasting, technical, and front desk staff are still working, though “non-exempted” staff like the Center’s spokesperson was out on furlough due to the shutdown on Wednesday. He was recalled on Thursday.

It seems like Nature has it in for the GOP: remember when Gov. Jindal mocked “volcano monitoring” only to have a volcano in Alaska rumble to life a month later?  Maybe that’s Nature paying them back for all the damage they’re doing with their climate change denial and stinking up the joint with oil spills and pollution.