In Joe Nocera’s column about the ongoing struggle in New York with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy consider this passage:
Shipley, who lives in Manhattan, had been going out there every day since last Saturday, volunteering in the hard-hit enclave of Belle Harbor, where a Roman Catholic church, St. Francis de Sales, had essentially been taken over by relief workers. She had expected to help out for a day or two, assuming that the Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or state and city workers would quickly take over.
But that hadn’t happened. As one day bled into the next, the volunteers had organized themselves. Leaders emerged who, with no prior experience, figured out how to help people in a disaster. They found restaurants willing to donate hot meals, rented buses to truck in more volunteers and brought in supplies to help residents battle the cold weather.
I would also bet that the volunteers who’ve organized themselves so efficiently are men and women, more than one religion, all ages, an assortment of stations in life, multiple ethnic groups and races. I had feared that this spirit was lost but here it is, alive and well. Technocracy is a sham. Federalization is a sham. What we have is bureaucracy and the bureaucrats are all employed, housed, and well-fed.
See also the historical lessons I drew from in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. If New York is to recover, it will be because New Yorkers wanted it to and worked to make it happen without waiting for guidance from Washington or even City Hall.
We solve the problems. They don’t solve the problems.