As many folks are aware and many are living through, a large section of New Jersey and other parts of the other northeast got hit by a freak October snowstorm last Saturday. With fall foliage at it’s peak and the leaves still on the branches, the wet and heavy snow wreaked havoc on trees, bushes and utility wires. As of today, 5 days after the storm, many of my friends and neighbors are still without power, 2 of the 5 schools in the Millburn School District are still closed (and we’ve used up all our snow days) and things are generally a mess.
Ran into my high school friend Scott this morning who told me his street in Livingston “looks like Beirut.” My friend Jodi thinks we are beginning to look a lot like a third world country. Others have described their streets and neighborhoods as “a war zone” or “having been struck by a tornado.” Coming just 2 months after our area got struck by Hurricane Irene, residents are angry, frustrated, angry, cold, angry, tired, angry and they are angry. If you don’t believe me, read this: http://millburn.patch.com/articles/cold-angry-residents-want-answers-on-power?ncid=following_comment
Folks are complaining about the utility companies, the local governments lack of response, the governor, whoever they can think of. As much as I think the utility companies and the government have definitely and completely screwed this whole thing up, I haven’t heard anyone say anything about what’s at the root (pardon the pun) of the problem – the fact that the infrastructure responsible for delivering these basic services to us is in a state of rapid decline. This all goes back to the IraSez philosophy of common sense when it comes to these types of issues.
When you build in a flood plain, it still floods. When you build more houses, offices and other commercial space without more roads and mass transit, you get traffic. When you don’t invest in aging utility poles and electrical wires (let alone new power plants), and you don’t take the time and effort to maintain the areas around those poles and wires, you get what we have now…a gargantuan pain in everyone’s ass! Nobody wants more taxes, nobody wants to spend money on infrastructure and nobody wants to live through this kind of mess again, let alone twice in 2 months but at what point do we become proactive instead of reactive? At what point do we say enough is enough? At what point do we start to realize that mother nature has played a big part in all these messes we keep getting into but the lack of investment in the basics that we take for granted will only make situations like this more and more common?
To me the answer is simple – invest in our infrastructure. Common sense, right? How to pay for that? I’m getting into that right now but I’m sure there’s a way. Here’s an interesting bit of trivia. Do you know what the name of our nation’s interstate system is? It’s the “Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways” because it was built during his administration. Everyone once in awhile you will see a highway sign that says “Part of the Eisenhower Interstate System” or something along those lines. Think about this for a moment. Eisenhower was President in the 50s and there are probably large parts of our nations vital infrastructure that are that old, if not older. People, that’s over 50 years ago! Are the alarms going off yet? Now I’m not saying everything is that old but you gotta think that this is a symptom of the greater cause of our national infrastructure issues.
We all read the news and hear reports about other countries spending billions of dollars on their infrastructure. Economically these countries are leaving us behind, so for anyone who is screaming our government can’t spend more money because it’s going to kill the economy, again let’s think about common sense. Do we have a modern interstate highway system to transport people, goods and services? Do we have a modern national transit system to transport people and goods in a quick and environmental friendly mode (and alleviate the vehicular traffic)? Do we have a power/utility system that is properly maintained, uses the the latest technology and handles the needs of our citizens? Just my opinion but my answers are no, no and no.
What I’m really saying is our towns, our states and our country are beginning to show their age and it’s not a pretty picture. Common sense tells me we need to do something and it needs to be soon. Common sense also tells me I could re-post this blog in another year and things will be same…maybe even worse. Common sense is also telling me it’s time to buy a generator.