Ahead of the storm panic buying left grocery and hardware store shelves empty as concerned residents stocked up on food, water, batteries, flashlights, and generators.
With the run on supplies over the weekend, tens of thousands of people were inevitably left without essential survival items due to shortages across the region, and now they are demanding action from government officials.
Officials in the city of Hoboken, N.J., are defending their response to severe flooding from superstorm Sandy.
Public Safety director Jon Tooke says at least 25 percent of the city on the Hudson River across from Manhattan remains under water. He estimates at least 20,000 people are stranded and says most are being encouraged to shelter in place until floodwaters recede.
Tempers flared Wednesday morning outside City Hall as some residents complained the city was slow to get food and other supplies out to the stranded.
Tooke says emergency personnel have been working 24/7. He says the “scope of this situation is enormous.”
Without any way to heat their homes due to power outages, no food in their pantries and water supplies potentially tainted with polluted flood waters, those who failed to prepare are now at the mercy of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s crisis safety net.
But, as FEMA has advised in its emergency preparedness guidelines, despite millions of dollars in supplies having been purchased by the Federal government, if emergency responders and the transportation infrastructure is overwhelmed, help may not be coming for days or weeks.
While damage from Hurricane Sandy may not be as widespread or severe as earlier reports suggested it could be, what should be crystal clear is that any serious long-term emergency would be horrific for the non-prepper.
In New Jersey some 20,000 residents are affected and already there are not enough supplies to go around and sanity is rapidly destabilizing.
The government simply does not have the manpower to deal with an emergency requiring the delivery of food and water to hundreds of thousands of people. The saving grace for the east coast is that the damage was not as bad as it could have been, and residents were made aware of the coming storm days in advance, giving them ample time to stock up or evacuate.
Imagine the effects of an unforeseen, more widespread disaster such as coordinated dirty-bomb terror attacks, a natural disaster requiring permanent mass evacuations of entire cities, destruction of the national power grid, or the collapse of the currency systems necessary for the global exchange of key commodities.
Even those who set aside supplies for such disasters would be hard-pressed to survive; never mind those who have less than three days of food in their pantries.