Oklahoma Tornadoes Once Again Show Why FEMA Matters

tornadodamageFirst I just want to say that there aren’t words to fully describe the sorrow I feel when I think about children being killed, and lives ruined, following the tornadoes on May 20th.  Tragic doesn’t even begin to describe the situation.

In a bit of positive news, the death toll has been lowered to 24 with officials saying some deaths might have been reported twice in the midst of the chaos.  At the bottom of this article, please be sure to check out links to different places you can go to donate to the victims of this disaster.

But it wasn’t long after this horrible news began to unfold that I heard about at least one Senator, from Oklahoma no less, who’s already playing politics with the lives of those impacted by these devastating tornadoes (follow this link for contact information for Mr. Coburn so you can tell him what you think of his disgusting actions).  You see, his policy on any kind of natural disaster relief requires offsets in federal spending before he’ll support it.  Apparently when multiple people die, many of which are children—being human isn’t as important as playing partisan politics.

Then again, calling Senator Tom Coburn human right now just doesn’t feel right.

What the hell is wrong with people?  When did FEMA become a partisan issue?  Was it just because of Hurricane Katrina?  I’m sure with each disaster FEMA has had its mishaps, Katrina being by far probably the worst, but there’s something I noticed when it comes to FEMA.

I never hear many people who are hit by some kind of disaster (hurricane, tornado, fires, explosions, floods, etc.) speaking out against FEMA.  When these areas are impacted by some kind of horrific disaster, I don’t see many of those Congressional district Representatives denouncing the need for federal aid.

For example, last month in West, Texas there was a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant and House Representative Bill Flores, who represents that district, immediately sought help from the federal government—as did Rick Perry and Ted Cruz.  Why is that a big deal?  Well, because Perry has often spoke out against government spending, while Cruz and Flores both voted against Hurricane Sandy disaster relief.  Yet all 3 didn’t waste any time pushing the federal government for money when their state/district was stricken with a disaster.

So it seems FEMA makes for a great talking point when you’re sitting out in the sun, on a cloudless day, with a cold drink in your hand at some kind of conservative rally against the “big bad federal government”—yet when those same people are impacted by some kind of disaster, they quickly realize donations from Americans, local churches and charities don’t even begin to rebuild entire towns that are wiped off the map.

Because when someone’s life is destroyed, at that moment they’re not a Democrat or Republican, a conservative or liberal—they’re just human.  Part of our greatness as a nation is being there for our citizens when they need help.

At these moments, who you voted for this past November doesn’t matter.  What news channel you watch is meaningless.  It’s about being there for those who have had their lives forever changed and saying, without question, “What can we do to help?”


You get the money, you give them the aid and you if you want to play politics—do it later.

But you damn sure don’t play politics when parents are standing on a pile of rubble that used to be their children’s bedroom.  Especially when some of those parents won’t ever see their children again.

Because like I said, FEMA and other means of federal disaster relief might make for great talking points when you don’t need it, but it’s funny how the attitude by many of those same people quickly changes when they’re no longer spectators to some kind of disaster—but victims.

For those wanting to help, here are a few contact links:

The Salvation Army

American Red Cross

A Facebook Group for those impacted in Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma is opening up spaces in Housing for the displaced families.  Phone number: 405-325-2511

A big thank you from myself, my page Right Off A Cliff and the entire staff at Forward Progressives for everyone’s help.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Pat Shelton

    Coburn did the exact same thing right after the Oklahoma City bombing! He is scum! From an Okie..

  • You guys gotta stop falling for their rhetoric. It’s unhealthy.
    No SANE person thinks FEMA is not a Godsend. They do that shit to make you do what you felt you had to do here. And all it does is grab them even More attention. Which is their goal in the first place.

  • marc carl

    Fema is useless and Red cross does way more to help with disaster relief. Once the initial lines are set up red cross is fast and efficient. Fema just gets in the way. I was in New orleans.

    • Mr. Smith

      You were in a situation when FEMA was being run “your doing a heck of a job Brownie” In that situation FEMA was not being allowed to do anything because the insiders were too busy trying to figure out who was going to get rich off the disaster. FEMA helped my dad when his maple farm was destroyed by a micro burst, when the right people are in charge and allowed to do their job its a great organization.

    • Best not to confuse the point of the organisation and its implementation. The point is, and will continue to be that there is a need for some kind of disaster relief and distribution mechanism for the kind of money that only a government can provide. The implementation is by no means perfect. On the other hand, the Red Cross is not a government organisation, and while it gets donations in the form of money and help, that’s not going to be nearly enough to rebuild, say, a mile wide area – I’ve no idea how long, but more than a mile, obviously – of housing and providing assistance to those affected. The Red Cross as an organisation doesn’t have the mandate for preventive projects – in this case, storm shelters, in the New Orleans case, work on the levées etc. which FEMA does and should continue to have.

  • Coburn is a RedNeck Republican, I can’t expect anything good from him. As for FEMA, I hate to differ with you Marc, but when I was in a flooded area here in New Jersey, I received Fema aid to relocate and buy what I needed for my new apartment. So don’t talk about Fema. You may have been in New Orleans but that was another time and another President, no comparison.