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'New Jersey and New York will long remember Sandy'

Text by Jon FROSCH , Julien PEYRON , special election correspondents in Florida

Latest update : 2012-10-31

After Sandy violently tore through the US Northeast Monday evening, authorities and citizens have been left assessing the damage. Bryan Koon, director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, says the superstorm will carry high costs.

Superstorm Sandy made landfall in the state of New Jersey on Monday, bringing destructive weather to large parts of this heavily-populated northeastern region of the United States. While similar storms have hit the region in the past, local residents are largely ill-equipped to deal with them.

France 24 spoke to Bryan Koon, the director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management under Republican Governor Rick Scott, about the emergency response to Sandy, as well as the potential consequences the storm will have on the country's political landscape.

France 24: Out of any place in the United States, Florida is most accustomed to this kind of emergency weather situation. Are you in contact with the rescue team on the field in the Northeast?

Bryan Koon: All the divisions work together and collaborate, and we are mobilised to help our friends in the Northeast. We’ve sent folks up North to help them: medical experts, shelter experts, etc. From the news we have, rescue teams are doing a great job – especially given the fact that they’re not used to hurricanes, and certainly not hurricanes this strong. It’s very unusual for them. Also, the infrastructure in the Northeast is less solid than in Florida and in Louisiana. Their roads, their electric installations are less resistant than the ones in Miami and New Orleans. You can bet on the fact that New Jersey and New York are going to remember Sandy a long time.

F24: Is it accurate to call this 'the Katrina of the Northeast', as some have said?

BK: No, it’s not a Katrina-type storm. In terms of its force and loss of lives, Sandy has nothing to do with Katrina. But given the fact that these are very populated areas, the cost of Sandy is going to be steep.

F24: What impact do you think Sandy is going to have on voting?

BK: I don’t think election day will be postponed. I have faith in the rescue teams. Before the 2004 presidential election, hurricanes slammed Florida, but we worked very hard and managed to have the election on time. I’m sure the Northeast will do the same.

F24: Challenger Mitt Romney and the Republican Party are in favour of smaller government. Does this kind of catastrophe bolster the Democrats’ argument that government services should be preserved?

BK: The federal government can’t do everything on its own. We need the private sector, volunteers, and regular citizens to help also. The federal government’s response has been appropriate. America might seem divided lately, with the election coming up. But this kind of disaster can bring the country together and usually brings out the best in people.


Date created : 2012-10-31

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