By Art Gallagher
During the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, it gave me and my neighbors great comfort when we were greeted by State Police Officers from Mississippi and Illinois when were coming back to Highlands. It felt good to know that fellow Americans from far away were here for us in our time of need; that trained police and other first responders were here to protect our lives and property along side our local police and first responders.
I’m not sure I would have felt as comforted if I had to pass through a checkpoint manned by armed Russian soldiers or police to get to my home.
That could happen in future disasters under an agreement that FEMA signed with the Russian Emergency Ministry last week, according to a press release by EMERCOM of Russian.
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry and the USA Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are going to exchange experts during joint rescue operations in major disasters. This is provided by a protocol of the fourth meeting of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission Working Group on Emergency Situations and seventeenth meeting of Joint U.S.-Russia Cooperation Committee on Emergency Situations, which took place in Washington on 25 June.
The document provides for expert cooperation in disaster response operations and to study the latest practices.
In addition, the parties approved of U.S.-Russian cooperation in this field in 2013-2014, which envisages exchange of experience including in monitoring and forecasting emergency situations, training of rescuers, development of mine-rescuing and provision of security at mass events.
At the end of the meeting the parties expressed their satisfaction with the level of cooperation between the Russian Federation and the United States in the area of emergency prevention and response and agreed to develop it in order to respond efficiently to all kinds of disasters.
I wonder how our U.S. Senate candidates feel about this. I wonder what Senator Bob Menendez and the rest of our Congressional Delegation think about this.
Menendez is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Did his committee review this “protocol?” Do they even know about it? How come Menendez didn’t issue a press release about it? He released a statement calling on the Russian Federation to return fugitive Edward Snowden to United States custody on the day after FEMA and EMERCOM signed their deal. Why no word about Russia providing “provision of security at mass events” like the 2014 Super Bowl which will take place in New Jersey?