Environment, Public Health

Storm Sandy and the public’s health

November 5, 2012


Preparedness at risk nationally

Hurricane Sandy - Long Beach Island, New Jersey

Hurricane Sandy damage along Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Source: New Jersey National Guard

At the same time that a devastating Hurricane Sandy roiled the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states, the U.S. government is planning to scale back even further on funds for preparedness. After Sept. 11, 2001, it was clear that the U.S was inadequately prepared for a variety of disasters, including bioterrorism. The government allocated funds to help communities become prepared. With the downturn in the economy over the last several years, one source after another has ended. The CDC’s Centers for Public Health Preparedness were allocated $17.997 million in the 2011 budget, but only $7.997 million in the 2012 budget. The President’s 2013 budget zeroes out Preparedness Centers; the Senate would retain the 2012 funding level.

The U.S. will not be prepared for the devastating effects of ferocious storms like Sandy if we allow our critical preparedness infrastructure to wither. There will be more storms.

Bill Gentry

Bill Gentry

I’m proud of people in our School who rushed to help storm-ravaged communities. One of those people is Bill Gentry in our department of Health Policy and Management. Bill is not just an expert on managing emergency situations like hurricanes (and the attacks on the World Trade Center). He is a very caring person who sees beyond the ravages of storms and attacks to the people who experience them.

We empathize with people in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and other areas that suffered severe storm damage. As someone who has lived through devastating storms, I know what they mean.

Please vote

Like a lot of people with whom I talk, I’m incredibly anxious about the outcome of the Presidential election. On the one hand, I want it to be over. On the other, I don’t want Tuesday to arrive. And I worry about the ways the storm may have affected people who can and will vote. If you didn’t vote early, please vote tomorrow (Nov. 6).

Happy Monday,


Want to leave a comment or contact us?
The views expressed in this blog are Barbara Rimer’s alone and do not represent the views and policies of The University of North Carolina or the Gillings School.