i Editor's Letter: Stay safe, people


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The Independent Online


By the time you read this we will probably know just how bad Hurricane Sandy really is. Will it have whacked New York City with its full ferocity or merely flooded a few streets in lower Manhattan and instead "merely" pummelled Atlantic City? In which case our interest levels will have already dropped off. To be brutally honest, they will still not be as low as when it was "merely" pounding Cuba and Jamaica.

It is fascinating to be "here" having once lived "there", viewing what is being seen by some as over-precaution. My time in wonderful NYC coincided with the very real horror of 9/11 and its aftermath, and I then returned to the UK for good in the week Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans (August 2005). It's vital to remember that the lack of preparedness for these two events (arguably, understandable in the case of 9/11) has haunted the US government's response to subsequent disasters, potential or real. This is exacerbated by proximity to next week's presidential election. Government cannot be allowed to fail the people. The National Response Framework introduced post-Katrina should see to that.

This is not to be cynical or flippant. I couldn't be with so many friends and relatives in Sandy's path. Better to be prepared and safe surely – as with Hurricane Irene last year – than under-prepared and sorry, as with Katrina.

To be honest, the UK can only look on and marvel as the full might of the US response services kick into action. It can't be too long 'til Heathrow is crippled by the first dusting of snow of the year. Stay safe, people.

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