All In   |  April 29, 2013

Six-months after Sandy billions spent on disaster relief

Chris Christie said today that the President "kept every promise he made" on relief for Superstorm Sandy. But six months after Sandy, there's a big question we need to ask about how keep our promises to the next storm's victims. Chris Hayes explains.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> today marks six months since superstorm sandy hit new york and new jersey. communities continue the slow difficult work of rebuilding. governor chris christie of new jersey says president obama has kept every promise he's made. and new york senator chuck schumer says we're making progress, not only in rebuilding efforts, but in the way disaster relief money is distributed.

>> it took too long. there is no question about it. but i think the next six months will be a whole lot better than the previous six. and that's because we learn from the mistakes of katrina in how to put this thing together.

>> but tomorrow, april 30th is the deadline for thousands of people in new york city made homeless by sandy. many of them still have nowhere else to go. so the koicoalition is petitioning the bloomberg administration to extend the arbitrary deadline. the national political battle over relief funding that proceeded the passage of a sandy relief bill did eventually get to where it needed to be, a relief to those in desperate need. it was an affirmation of our society's basic belief. people should get the help they need in the wake of a disaster. that a tragic cruel twist of fate shouldn't be the thing that permanently knocks someone off their rung in the economic ladder. here's what adhering to that correct principle looks like in dollar figures. $136 billion has been spent on disaster relief just between 2011 and 2013 according to a study by american progress using conservative estimates, $68 billion came in the form of supplemental appropriations, the other $68 billion through the normal process. half of that spending wasn't budgeted ahead of time. the number of billion dollar weather events has risen from an average of two per year to more than ten per year. that trajectory isn't flattening out. increasing population density combined with the era of climate disaster means that we're going to spend more and more and more on providing relief to victims of weather catastrophes. at some point, i'm confident we'll collectively wake up to the fact that ignoring climate change and doing little or nothing about the carbon emissions that exacerbates it is costing us a fortune beyond the loss of life. but the rise in global temperature from the damage we have already done means we need to think in a comprehensive way about what we can do to mitigate the effects of climate related disasters like superstorms, flooding and drought. our political system recognizes, refuses to recognize that we are inviting more and more disaster. and republicans in particular scoff at even the most practical measures preventing the worst kind of damage. in fact, one of the complaints about the sandy relief bill was that billions of dollars would go to mitigation projects to prepare for future storms, to make communities more resilient to future disasters. i spent a lot of time reporting about the aftermath of sandy and the neighborhood one of the hardest hit areas, and what i've come to realize in talking to people barely making ends meet before the storm hit, barely keeping it together and making it to payday, keeping their kids in school, keeping their jobs through a commute is that they were just one storm away from total destruction. 30% of small businesses never reopened following a federally declared disaster or emergency. according to a 2010 study by the national federation of independent businesses . we think long-term about a future in which there'll be more sandies, what a society would look like more resilient to those storms. and the answer to that is a society more broadly resilient without the storms. the things that make a place able to come back from natural disasters are the things that make a place prosperous and flourish without storms. strong amounts of social capital , robust public services and access to health care , access to transportation, access to child care and good-paying jobs and decent, affordable housing . a good society that provides those kinds of things that gives people a chance to make it is going to be a strong resilient society in the wake of a storm. the genius of social insurance is that it magically transforms risks individuals might face that would be too much to bear into risk that we as a society can face and manage together. we should be looking out for each other even without the threat of waves and wind and floods growing on the horizon. but when the storms do come and they will, it's all that more important that we have each other's back. we'll be right back with click three.