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Shapira to probe government’s handling of the storm aftermath
By YONAH JEREMY BOB
19/12/2013
State Comptroller says he will also investigate general state preparedness for sudden large disasters.
 
State Comptroller Joseph Shapira on Wednesday said he would investigate the government’s preparedness for coping with the recent storm that shut down large swaths of the country.

“Whoever travels around Jerusalem’s streets sees that the situation is not white, but black,” he said.

Shapira made his comments at a conference on internal government oversight in Tel Aviv.

“We are not talking about a sudden incident, and even before the storm, one could already anticipate its immensity based on the weather projections,” the comptroller said.

“During that time, the state was obligated to review the situation accordingly,” he continued, noting that besides investigating storm preparedness, he would be investigating general preparedness for sudden large disasters.

Shapira highlighted the disproportionate impact the storm had on the poor.

“Even as all of the nation of Israel was exposed to difficulties due to the storm, it was clear that the difficulties for the weaker sectors, who did not have the ability to leave their residences or to pay for extra high costs for heating,” were much greater, he said.

“The heart breaks to see elderly persons and children freezing from the cold with no one to save them.”

The state must be better prepared to protect the poor from similar disasters, he resolved.

The comptroller addressed the issue of whether his intervening in the middle of the storm, as opposed to waiting until the it had subsided, had been the right move.

Pushing back against criticism, he said that the report he would prepare was not the first one on home-front preparedness and that, after serious internal debate, his office had concluded that he must voice his criticism in a “clear manner and note the state agencies which will be checked.”

His intervention had spurred state agencies to act more efficiently in responding to the storm and “had been at the right time,” Shapira said.

Although this time the problem was a storm, “the next time it could be rockets,” he said.
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