Political Issue of the Issue: how government affects disasters and disaster responses

Patrick Done, Chief-of-Staff

A series of disasters have taken place globally over the last several weeks. From the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked Syria and Turkey, many have questioned how government responses have affected the people whose communities have been devastated by the disasters.

Turkish President Erdogan has led the response to the earthquake that has ravaged his home nation, calling for calm in the chaotic environment caused by the deaths of potentially tens of thousands. However, his administration has come under fire for previous reforms that dramatically loosened building standards designed to protect buildings from potential collapse. A stunning example of this comes in the city of Adıyaman, with the city’s town center being turned to rubble with the exception of one building, the European Cultural Centre. This Centre followed stricter building standards, leading many to declare that Erdogan’s deregulation resulted in unnecessary deaths. Erdogan will face the people of Turkey in the upcoming general election, with new polling data suggesting that the natural disaster has undercut his messaging.

In Ohio there have been similar criticisms levied at the state government and the United States national government. Under the administration of former President Trump, the federal government took aggressive steps to deregulate the transportation sector, specifically repealing regulations designed to protect rural cities that trains pass through. The train derailment in Ohio has resulted in large quantities of toxic chemicals spilling out into the water and air of East Palestine, causing outrage amongst residents who may now not be able to return to their homes.

In depth investigations are now ongoing into the causes of these recent disasters, but speculation still remains as to whether or not the most catastrophic effects could have been avoided.