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Disaster help starts right here

The federal government is often criticized for not acting quickly or decisively in critical situations, but that certainly isn’t the case when it comes to Superstorm Sandy.

Federal relief efforts began almost immediately in New Jersey, New York and other areas hit hardest by the storm last week. The efforts have garnered praise from Republicans and Democrats alike, as they should. But we need that same concern by private citizens and community groups who are always looking to help make a difference.

Far too often natural disasters and other crisis situations are overlooked when they occur here but they get lots of attention when they occur in other countries.

This could again be the case if we are not careful with Sandy cleanup and recovery, efforts that will last weeks and months.

It would be easy to say that New York and New Jersey don’t need help because they combine to form one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world.

But tens of thousands of people are hurting, are in need of food and shelter and will require need assistance getting back on their feet.

The Red Cross and numerous other organizations rely on citizen support and generosity, something our nation always seems to come through with abroad.

But we cannot overlook “the forest for the trees” and forget about our neighbors right here at home.