Federal workers dispatched to respond to Superstorm Sandy were often left without the proper equipment and communication tools, according to a report in the New York Post.
When Sandy struck the city, many government facilities were in its direct path, resulting in a number of the command centers set up for disaster relief being knocked out of commission.
“Our regional headquarters were in the path of the storm,” Dan Cruz, a spokesman for General Services Administration, told the Post. “Ninety percent of our GSA employees were in the path of the storm.”
Another problem was that the government-issued satellite phones failed to work, forcing government employees to rely on personal smartphones for telephone and internet access.
The Post went on to detail a slew of other issues plaguing federal officials during the storm:
* A mobile cell tower requested from DC was never dispatched.
* FEMA’s command center at the Earle Naval Station in Monmouth County, NJ, lost all power in the storm. And for more than a day, staffers there were stuck using personal smartphones to get online because their government-issued equipment was useless.
* The GSA was tasked to find a “major hotel chain” that was without power. “FEMA will provide [a]generator if they reserve rooms for responders and evacuees,” officials were told.
* Amid the crisis, bureaucrats squabbled over budget rules and who was in charge of signing contracts to get supplies in place.
The mess that Sandy made of our federal bureaucracy had one silver lining: It forced the GSA to better plan for a future emergency.
“There were lessons learned from protecting and restoring one of the highest density and concentrations of federal facilities in the country,” Cruz told the Post.