The whining I am hearing about the most recent storm in the Northeast reminds me of the response I witnessed to Katrina in 2005. They prompt me to ask: Why are these 'victims' waiting on organizations to take care of them instead of getting prepared themselves beforehand? Did they not know that a 'bad' storm was coming? It seems hard to believe that they 'prepared' for the storm when "they arrive at a shelter without shoes or socks".
Here in Florida we face such storms multiple times a year. Although there are always a few people caught unprepared, the vast majority weather the storm quite adequately.We also have a generally high opinion of the various organizations that are kind enough to help out such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. (FEMA's historical role is that of a National Security organization, humanitarian assistance is relatively new, and simply adds another, highly politicized bureaucratic layer--often slowing the recovery process.) Apparently, here in Florida we still generally adhere to the philosophy that we are responsible for ourselves--both from a basic sense of self-respect as well as long experience of the severe limits on any organized help.
I can only guess that this radically different type of response to a similar crisis and identical organizations is the difference between the collectivist mindset and the individual responsibility mindset. When I hear of a hurricane headed our way, we don't even consider what FEMA or the Red Cross will be able to do for us; we start preparing. Do we have sufficient water, food, batteries, lamp oil, ammunition, clean clothes, plastic bags, charcoal, Sterno, etc. Are the cars full of gas? Do we need to refill our medications? In short, we do just about everything we can to survive without any external assistance.
I could be wrong, but just like Katrina, the people Sandy caught unprepared appear to have simply not prepared, and completely depend on the government and organizations like the Red Cross for their survival. They do not appear to be generally well-prepared, and are simply facing one-off situations: e.g., they did fill up the car with gas, make sure they had food, water, space blanket, flares, etc., in the trunk, but all was wasted when a wind-fallen tree crushed it. Instead, they did not personally prepare and expected the collective to care for them.