What should have already happened in the affected hurricane zones
Imagine the governor calls all of the mayors. “I'm going on camera in the next six hours. I'm putting aside all politics for the time being and giving you the opportunity to do the same. Let's show America were not always divisive and at each others' throats over partisan issues.
Let's pool our resources and create supply chains to the affected regions. Let's make public pleas in our cities and ask for volunteers primarily from those cities to assist, as well as from the non-affected regions. Let's give state tax credits to those who roll up their sleeves and begin work. Let's find a way to creatively purchase materials now so we can get it there as fast as possible. Let's figure out the best ways organizations can donate now.
Volunteers will need to be housed and fed. The easiest thing to do is ask for volunteers in the spirit of patriotism from the affected areas since they already have housing, but also ask for volunteers from elsewhere. Still some places can temporarily house volunteers. Let's talk to all of the existing houses of worship, regardless of belief system, and see if they can house them and possibly feed them. This is a win-win situation for them since it's good public relations. Let's see if they'll do it. If not, let's make it worth their while somehow to enable housing for volunteers.
A lot of people are unable to get to work. Let's see if they're willing to work for their state and if we don't have enough volunteers, let's help them with tax abatements.”
Now the mayors do the same thing. They help it happen on at the city level. They follow through, with the idea that should the same thing happen in their regions, that a similar process will assist them in reciprocity.
Clothing drives are organized. Food drives too. Water trucks load up from the closest regions to deploy not bottled water, but tanks of water so large quantities will be delivered efficiently. In the meantime, water companies who have donated bottled water are also given tax benefits for donating.
There are generators in some cities. Relocate them. This would be the toughest sell as the Nor'easter is coming though. Gar is sitting somewhere in the state. Move it where it needs to go.
Every city can send someone. My guess is that a lot of people would like to volunteer, they just haven't been asked. Appeal to their patriotism, then their sense of fair play, then to their wallet.
How many unemployed people are in the affected regions? Surely they could temporarily call workers to assist in the transportation and supply chain and distribution effort.
A lot of materials are available through the state. The issue is getting it there and having the personnel to unload it and move it to the right places. This means making deals with the trucking unions probably and also working with non-union truckers too. There probably are many owner operators who aren't working in this bad economy and need the work. Maybe the railroads would move quite a bit of it, but it'll mean rescheduling. Ask them. Ask the barge companies too.
It's going to take some time to get things back on track. Think about Hurricane Katrina. A lot of contractors are needed. Facilitate so that it's to their benefit to arrive, roll up their sleeves, and get to work. Fooling around and arguing over who is union and who is not is foolish while people are hungry, cold, wet, and homeless.
Use the media to get the word out. They're hungry for stories about the hurricane. Feed them this information rather than wasting time talking about the isolated cases of public discontent.
It takes a lot of time to allocate military resources to an affected area. The truth is a lot of National Guard folks are already deployed in regions, and so that means stealing from Peter to pay Paul. In the mean time, move around civilians.
This isn't rocket science. It means not relying upon FEMA and the Red Cross and actually asking people to help instead. Let those agencies help, but don't count upon them to do it all.