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Overview:

Located within the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for coordinating the federal government’s response to natural and manmade disasters. FEMA is charged with providing both immediate and long-term assistance to local and state governments as well as individuals. Throughout its almost 30-year history, FEMA has been synonymous with the word “disaster.” Not only is this because of the agency’s mission to assist in times of crisis, but also due to its long record of mistakes and, in some cases, failures that have exacerbated suffering caused by storms, fires or earthquakes.

 
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History:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The federal government has provided disaster relief in one form or another since the early 19th century. The Congressional Act of 1803 is considered the first piece of disaster legislation in US history, providing assistance to a New Hampshire town following an extensive fire. Over the next century ad hoc legislation was passed more than 100 times in response to hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters. Laws unique to each disaster authorized financial assistance to victims and both personnel and equipment to assist in recovery and clean up.

 
By the 1930s the Reconstruction Finance Corporation was given authority to make disaster loans for repair and reconstruction of certain public facilities following earthquakes and other types of disasters. In 1934, the Bureau of Public Roads was given authority to provide funding for highways and bridges damaged by natural disasters. The Flood Control Act, which gave the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers greater authority to implement flood control projects, was also passed. This piecemeal approach to disaster assistance was problematic, prompting legislation that required greater cooperation between federal agencies and authorized the president to coordinate these activities.
 
In 1950 Congress passed the Disaster Relief Act, the nation’s first comprehensive federal disaster relief law. Once the president declared a natural catastrophe had overwhelmed a locale, federal aid could be provided in the form of equipment, supplies, facilities, personnel and other resources. The act also stipulated assistance could be distributed through the Red Cross. The Housing and Home Finance Administrator (HHFA) was charged with coordinating federal relief efforts.
 
As a result of the growing Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union and its corresponding fear of nuclear war, civil defense became a major issue of concern during the 1950s. In response President Harry Truman established the Federal Civil Defense Administrator (FCDA) by executive order. The FCDA functioned as an independent federal agency and was led by a presidential-appointed administrator. The FCDA was charged with coordinating civil defense responsibilities among federal departments and agencies and to review and coordinate civil defense activities at the state and local level. It was further directed to “procure, construct, lease, transport, store, maintain, renovate or distribute materials and facilities for civil defense,” to sell or dispose of unneeded property, and to make civil-defense-related grants to the states, according to the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950.
 
Under President Dwight Eisenhower federal management of disasters was shifted to the newly created Office of Defense and Civilian Mobilization (ODCM). This move marked the beginning of the White House-centered era of disaster management relief. The ODCM was led by a director, deputy director and three assistant directors, all appointed by the president.
 
ODCM’s responsibilities shifted somewhat under the administration of John F. Kennedy, who moved certain civil defense responsibilities to the Department of Defense, including development of fallout shelters and early warning alerts to government officials and citizens in case of a nuclear attack. Kennedy also moved responsibilities for stockpiling food and medical supplies to the Agriculture Department and the Health, Education and Welfare Department, respectively. Because of these changes, the name of the ODCM was changed to the Office of Emergency Planning (OEP).
 
The 1960s and early 1970s saw the nation hit by several natural disasters requiring federal response. Hurricane Carla struck in 1962, Hurricane Betsy in 1965, Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Agnes in 1972. The Alaskan Earthquake hit in 1964 and the San Fernando Earthquake rocked Southern California in 1971. These events served to focus attention on the issue of natural disasters and brought about increased legislation. In 1968, the National Flood Insurance Act offered new flood protection to homeowners, and in 1974 the Disaster Relief Act firmly established the process of presidential disaster declarations.
 
Furthermore, President Richard Nixon moved federal disaster relief authority out of the White House and shifted it to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Under HUD the Federal Disaster Assistance Administration (FDAA) was created to take the place of the OEP. Also, the General Services Administration (GSA) was charged with responsibilities related to continuity of government in the event of a military attack, to resource mobilization and management of national security stockpiles. In addition Nixon abolished the Office of Civil Defense and created the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency within the Department of Defense.
 
This decentralized approach to disaster management was criticized by the nation’s governors in 1977 who issued a report declaring that “emergency preparedness and response functions were fragmented at the state and federal levels.” The report recommended a more comprehensive approach to emergency management that would include, in addition to preparedness and response, mitigation of hazards in advance of disasters and preparations for long-term recovery. President Jimmy Carter agreed a change was in store.
 
President Carter's 1979 executive order merged many of the separate disaster-related responsibilities into the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that absorbed, among others: the Federal Insurance Administration, the National Fire Prevention and Control Administration, the National Weather Service Community Preparedness Program, the Federal Preparedness Agency of the General Services Administration and the Federal Disaster Assistance Administration activities from HUD. Civil defense responsibilities were also transferred to FEMA from the Defense Department's Defense Civil Preparedness Agency.
 
By 1983 FEMA was struggling to become a cohesive, effective organization. A General Accounting Office (GAO) report found serious problems with FEMA’s management structure and operation. Assessments of FEMA by the end of the 1980s suggested that the agency had improved, but shortcomings remained. Following criticism of FEMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo and the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989, a 1991 GAO study found that, media coverage notwithstanding, “FEMA generally fulfilled its statutory obligations to supplement state and local efforts” to respond to the disasters. However, the report also said FEMA was not prepared to take over a state’s role as immediate responder in the event the state’s resources were overwhelmed, and FEMA had placed little emphasis on preparing for long-term recovery in the aftermath of a disaster. Some of FEMA’s actions during Hugo and Loma Prieta were criticized in the report as inefficient and uncoordinated.
 
In response to this criticism, the Federal Response Plan (FRP) was created in 1992 to better prepare the country for a major disaster. The plan was put to test later that year when Hurricane Andrew hit south Florida as a Category 4 hurricane and the central Louisiana coast as a Category 3 hurricane. The storm caused 23 deaths and $26.5 billion in damage, mostly in south Florida. FEMA’s response was criticized as thousands of homeless Floridians spent days searching for food, water and help while relief efforts lagged. In an attempt to make up for FEMA’s failure, President George H.W. Bush sent in a task force (minus FEMA) led by Secretary of Transportation Andrew Card, Jr., to coordinate the response.
 
Perceptions of poor performance by FEMA in response to Hurricane Andrew led to calls by Congress for reassessment and reform of FEMA. President Bill Clinton responded by nominating James L. Witt as the new FEMA director. Witt became the first agency director with experience as a state emergency manager. He initiated sweeping reforms that streamlined disaster relief and recovery operations, insisted on a new emphasis regarding preparedness and mitigation and focused agency employees on customer service. The end of the Cold War also allowed Witt to redirect more of FEMA's limited resources from civil defense into disaster relief, recovery and mitigation programs.
 
During his tenure Witt was credited him with reforming FEMA by lessening the bureaucracy, emphasizing the input of the agency's professional staff and focusing on working with communities to prepare for disasters. Charged with coordinating 22 different federal agencies as part of the Federal Response Plan to disasters, FEMA was elevated to a cabinet-level status in 1996 by President Clinton.
 
According to a report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), FEMA had improved in many ways by the end of the Clinton Administration. “Rather than suffering constant criticism from the media and political leaders, the agency was cited as a source of best practices in agency transformation in one study,” read the CRS report. It went on to say that FEMA was not without faults, citing the agency’s financial management and disaster declaration process as areas that could still use improvement.
 
With the election of George W. Bush, FEMA was placed under the leadership of Joe Allbaugh, the president’s former campaign director. In keeping with the Bush budget-cutting agenda, Allbaugh sets out to trim FEMA. According to the CRS report, Allbaugh declared of FEMA, “The existing organization is not the best fit for the evolving mission of the Agency nor does it support President Bush’s restructuring and streamlining goals.” Allbaugh sought to reorganize FEMA to “flatten the organization where possible” and reduce the number of organizations within it through consolidation.
 
Further, more substantive changes followed for FEMA following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In March 2003 President Bush created the Department of Homeland Security, the largest reorganization of government in 40 years. As part of the process, FEMA was downgraded from an independent agency to a department under Homeland Security and lost money to other agencies. Morale plummeted at FEMA, and scores of lifelong employees left. Allbaugh also left for the private sector and was replaced by Michael Brown, FEMA’s counsel, whose credentials for leading the agency came under question following the agency’s failure to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Brown was publicly ridiculed for his lack of disaster planning experience and for his lobbying work on behalf of the International Arabian Horse Association.
 
It turned out that in 2004 FEMA had sponsored a disaster planning exercise called "Hurricane Pam." Its scenario: a devastating hurricane hits New Orleans, with more than 100,000 people left behind in the city. However, the "Pam" exercise was not completed due to funding cuts by the Bush administration.
 
On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, causing catastrophic damage to the city of New Orleans. The levies surrounding the city were breached, and 80% of the city was flooded. Almost 1,500 people died and thousands of others were left stranded with no help for days following the storm. Media reports repeatedly showed residents stranded on rooftops while looting and mayhem occurred in areas throughout the city, including the Superdome where thousands of refugees had sought shelter from the hurricane.
 
The Bush administration and FEMA were heavily criticized for the slow response by the federal government, including the president’s early praise of Michael Brown for his leadership in handling the crisis. A short time later Michael Brown was forced to resign. 
 
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, committees in both chambers of Congress and the Bush Administration conducted investigations into what went wrong. FEMA’s new director, R. David Paulison, a former Miami fire chief, streamlined the agency’s operations, hired hundreds of more employees, outfitted delivery trucks with satellite tracking systems, purchased record amounts of ice and water, and signed more than $4 billion in forward contracts with big engineering firms and the U.S. military for emergency supplies and services that could be activated during a disaster. FEMA now claims it has enough provisions to feed one million disaster victims for a week, and it has made arrangements with the Department of Defense for backup supplies should the need arise. To speed up assistance to victims, the agency also has tripled its daily capacity to inspect homes for damage following a storm.
 
How Reliable Is Brown's Resume? (Daren Fonda and Rita Healy, Time)

FEMA regroups after Katrina, but some question its readiness

(by Robert Block, Wall Street Journal)

 

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What it Does:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located within the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for coordinating the federal government’s response to disasters. FEMA is charged with providing help to local and state governments and residents both immediately following a disaster and in the longer term. It also conducts programs to help prepare for disasters. The kinds of assistance FEMA provides ranges from advising on building codes and flood plain management to helping equip local and state emergency agencies to coordinating the federal response to a disaster. FEMA’s Organizational Structure (PDF) consists of offices that handle preparation, response, recovery and risk reduction.

 
Preparation
FEMA fully or partially funds emergency management programs and staff in all 50 states and six US territories and helps design and equip emergency operations in thousands of localities. An important objective of this assistance is effective preparedness through planning. Emergency Operations Plans are updated periodically and submitted to FEMA for review.
 
FEMA's National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, MD, is the home of the Emergency Management Institute and the National Fire Academy. At the center emergency managers, firefighters and elected officials take classes in areas of emergency management, including emergency planning, exercise design and evaluation disaster management, hazardous materials response and fire service management.
 
FEMA also conducts exercises to better prepare federal agencies for disasters. From "tabletop" discussions of a specific problem to full scale exercises that involve a detailed disaster scenario that unfolds over several days, FEMA coordinates events that bring together government agencies and volunteer organizations that would respond in a real disaster.
 
The Community and Family Preparedness Program educates the public about disaster awareness and preparation.
 
Response
FEMA activities under this mission involve mobilizing and positioning emergency equipment, getting people out of danger, providing food, water, shelter and medical services and bringing damaged services and systems back on line. FEMA is charged with working in coordination with state and local government agencies and private organizations to carry out response duties. To better handle emergency situations, FEMA maintains 10 regional centers across the country:
  • Region I (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont)
  • Region II (New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands)
  • Region III (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and W. Virginia)
  • Region IV (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, N. Carolina, S. Carolina and Tennessee)
  • Region V (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin)
  • Region VI (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas)
  • Region VII (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska)
  • Region VIII (Colorado, Montana, N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Utah and Wyoming)
  • Region IX (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Federated States of Micronesia)
  • Region X (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington)
 
Recovery
In the event of a disaster FEMA facilitates with federal loans and grants to areas destroyed. Funds can used to rebuild homes, businesses and public facilities, to clear debris and repair roads and bridges and to restore water, sewer and other essential services.
 
State governors can request three types of federal assistance: Individual assistance for individuals, families, farmers and businesses consisting of loans and grants, emergency housing, tax relief and unemployment assistance; public assistance for states, local communities and nonprofit groups; and matching mitigation funds for states and local communities for projects that eliminate or reduce an area's vulnerability to a hazard.
 
Risk Reduction

In an effort to reduce the cost and damage of flood disasters, FEMA oversees the

Federal Insurance Administration (FIA)

. The FIA partners with national insurance companies to provide affordable flood insurance. Local communities can become eligible for such insurance by enforcing floodplain management practices.

 

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Where Does the Money Go:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtually every American is a potential key stakeholder of FEMA, depending on when a particular disaster might strike. From earthquakes out west to tornadoes in the plains state and south to hurricanes along the Atlantic seaboard, the agency is one of the most important in the federal government when it comes to its potential impact on lives when a crisis occurs. FEMA provides information for those in potential danger of floods due to storms or levy breaks. See Levee Information for Stakeholders.

 
Thousands of public employees at all levels of government are also potential stakeholders. Public safety can be particularly involved with FEMA in the event of a disaster. Currently, there are 17,784 law enforcement agencies spread out across the federal, state, and local levels of government. There are also 1.1 million firefighters in the US (including 823,950 volunteers). In cases such as Hurricane Katrina, the National Guard can become involved. The Air National Guard has more than 106,000 personnel and the Army National Guard around 325,000 personnel. These numbers include units currently serving in Iraq.
 
Offices of emergency services exist at the state level that communicate with FEMA during a crisis. All 50 states, as well as six US territories, maintain their own emergency bureaus. A complete listing of these offices can be found here.
 
Building contractors and subcontractors, engineers and architects are another key group that stands to gain from FEMA decision-making. These include builders hired to remodel, refurbish or replace destroyed homes, businesses and government buildings. Manufacturers of mobile homes, such as Indiana-based Camping World, Gulf Stream Coach, Inc. (the country’s largest privately held RV maker), Pilgrim International, Inc., and Keystone R.V. Co., can become very public stakeholders as a result of supplying FEMA with formaldehyde-contaminated trailers used to house homeless following Katrina. (see Controversies)
 
Another key interest group of FEMA’s are insurance companies, primarily those who offer property and casualty insurance. These include:

 

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Controversies:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Underground Fuel Tanks Could Leak

FEMA has known since at least the 1990s that some of the underground fuel tanks it owns are at risk for leaking hazardous substances that could contaminate drinking water around the country.
Underground FEMA fuel tanks could leak (by Eileen Sullivan, Associated Press)
 
Toxic Trailers
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, FEMA bought 145,000 mobile home trailers to provide shelter to those who lost their homes in the disaster. FEMA spent $2.7 billion largely through no-bid contracts, a decision that proved ill-advised. In March 2007 it was reported that the agency was selling off as many as 41,000 of the homes (and netting about 40 cents on each dollar spent by taxpayers) even though thousands of residents throughout the south were in need of shelter following storms from the previous winter.
 
Furthermore, complaints began to surface about the trailers making people sick. Dubbed “toxic tin cans,” the trailers were found to have formaldehyde, a human carcinogen, in the walls. The airborne form of the chemical was used in the making of composite wood and plywood panels. Air quality tests of 44 FEMA trailers conducted by the Sierra Club revealed formaldehyde concentrations as high as 0.34 parts per million – a level nearly equal to what a professional embalmer would be exposed to on the job, according to one study.
 
In spite of the public controversies, FEMA has continued to distribute the trailers to other displaced persons. In August 2007 residents of southern Minnesota were hit by historic floodwaters, causing many to lose their homes. FEMA provided trailers, and complaints similar to those raised by Katrina victims have surfaced.
 
To make matters worse, FEMA was accused in January 2008 of trying to suppress information in a scientific study on formaldehyde in the trailers. Congressman Nick Lampson (D-TX) claimed an official from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) informed a congressional committee that “good science wasn't followed when a decision was made to allow people to live in basically travel trailers that were not designed to be lived in." FEMA denied that it suppressed any report.
 
In February CDC released its preliminary findings for the FEMA Trailer Study. It found higher than typical indoor exposure levels of formaldehyde in travel trailers and mobile homes used as emergency housing in the Gulf Coast Region. 
 
Almost 150,000 households have lived in FEMA trailers at some point since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005. FEMA says about 40,000 families are still living in the travel trailers.
FEMA Taking Hit on Sale of Surplus Trailers (by Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post)
           
Fake Press Conference
In the fall of 2007 Southern California was hit hard by several large wildfires. Following Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) emergency declaration, FEMA stepped in to help. By its own accounts during a news conference on Oct. 23, the agency responded well to the crisis, providing “good coordination” between federal and state agencies and effective help locating separated family members, said FEMA’s No. 2 man, Harvey E. Johnson, Jr. “This is a FEMA and a federal government leaning forward, not waiting to react, and you have to be pretty pleased to see that,” said Johnson, who added that the mayor of San Diego and the governor were happy with FEMA’s response, unlike what happened during Hurricane Katrina when the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana repeatedly criticized the agency’s handling of the unfolding crisis.
 
Johnson’s remarks came in response to off-camera questions by what were assumed to be members of the media. Following the press conference, word leaked out that no reporters had participated in what turned out to be a staged event by FEMA. A subsequent internal investigation by the agency found that FEMA's press secretary had directed aides to pose as reporters, secretly coached them during the briefing and ended the event after a final, scripted question was asked. The investigation did not address whether Johnson knew ahead of time that staffers would be tossing out the softball questions.
 
According to the inquiry, FEMA announced the news conference at its Southwest Washington headquarters only 15 minutes before it was to begin at 1 p.m., making it impossible for real reporters to attend. None did, and real reporters listening on a telephone conference line were barred from asking questions.
 
FEMA’s top official, R. David Paulison, criticized his external relations staff for conducting the fake news conference, calling the stunt “devastating” to the agency’s reputation. Both the press secretary and the director of external affairs resigned in the wake of the controversy.
 
An indication that something was wrong with the press conference came at the very end of the event. Following Johnson’s reply to the last question, an off-camera “reporter” can be heard saying, “Thanks, boss.”

FEMA's fake press conference

(YouTube)

 

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Suggested Reforms:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although considerable changes have been implemented at FEMA to improve the effectiveness of the agency, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has continued to find shortcomings. In just the first two months of 2008, four GAO reports were issued pointing out problems with FEMA’s programs to provide adequate mental health counseling to disaster victims; improve coordination between government agencies and non-profits; provide emergency transit assistance during disasters; and better manage disaster-related resources.

 

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Comments

Karon meredith 2 years ago
My house is flooding right now for the fourth time in two weeks. I need help, and something has to give, pls help us. I am at a friends workshop but my kids are home, and bedroom s are flooded and going further in the house. Pls help. Now where I am they are flooding also. I hope we don't have to try and leave because we probably won't make it through all the water. Pease help us with this issue so it won't do it anymore and make sure we are safe. Karon meresith 903-602-6921. Karon_meredith@yahoo.com
beatrice sharp 6 years ago
my neighbor recieved fema money for lost cows this year. how is this type of lost estimated? do you ever know how many cows a person has in the first place and/or where the carcasas end up? just wondering about all the cattle farmers that lost cattle in the past that never used government funds? there has been many floods in arkansas for hundreds of years most good farmers work, at it 24/7 and know when to move their heards for safety. i live where this flood occoured, i also have l...

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Founded: 1979
Annual Budget: $8 billlion
Employees: 3,000
Official Website: http://www.fema.gov/
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Long, Brock
Director

William Brockmann “Brock” Long, whose entire career has been spent in emergency management in the public and private sectors, was announced on April 28, 2017, as the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He was confirmed by a 95-4 U.S. Senate vote on June 20, 2017.

 

Long was born April 16, 1975, and is from Newton, North Carolina, son of William, a physician, and Kay. Long graduated from Newton-Conover High School and attended Appalachian State University. He earned a B.S. in criminal justice in 1997 and a master’s in public administration in 1999.

 

Long entered the emergency management field right out of college, joining Georgia’s emergency management agency as a planner and school safety coordinator. He joined the George W. Bush administration in November 2001 as a hurricane program manager in FEMA for six states—Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, but, significantly, not Louisiana, which bore the brunt of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. One of his achievements was the distribution of a hurricane computer game for grade-school students that focused on preparedness for such storms.

 

Long left FEMA in 2006. The following year, he was named southeast regional director for Beck Disaster Recovery, a consulting firm that specialized in emergency planning, disaster training and post-event recovery. In January 2008, Long became director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, where he directed the state’s response to incidents as different as the H1N1 flu virus and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as hurricanes and other storms. Long’s experience with schools was particularly prized by Alabama after a school in the town of Enterprise collapsed during a 2007 tornado, killing eight students.

 

Long also served on the board of directors of the Central United States Earthquake Consortium.

 

He returned to the private sector in January 2011 as an executive vice president for Hagerty Consulting, which advises on homeland security and emergency management issues. He is also the private sector chairman of the National Emergency Management Association, which brings together the state directors of emergency services.

 

Long and his wife, Amanda, have two sons: William and Isaac. They make their home in Hickory, North Carolina.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Brock Long (LinkedIn)

Brock Long (Hagetrty Consulting)

Official Announcement

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Fugate, Craig
Previous Administrator

Taking over the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), one of the most historically ridiculed federal operations in the United States, is W. Craig Fugate, whom some have called “Mr. Hurricane.” Fugate brings a long resume of tackling disasters, after heading up Florida’s version of FEMA for most of this decade. Fugate assumed the office in May 2009.

 
A native Floridian whose ancestry traces back to Spanish land grants, Fugate, 49, was born at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station, the son of a career Navy veteran. He grew up outside Gainesville in the town of Alachua. His mother died when he was 11 years old, and his father five years later. He was active in the Future Farmers of America chapter at Santa Fe High School in Alachua. Then, in addition to raising cows, he became a volunteer firefighter like his father and his uncle.
 
Fugate went to the Florida State Fire College. After graduating, he signed on as a paramedic with Alachua County. In time he became a lieutenant in the fire department, and a management training program led to his appointment as the county’s emergency rescue manager in 1987.
 
He served 10 years as the emergency rescue manager for Alachua County, until May 1997, when he was appointed Chief of the Bureau of Preparedness and Response with the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM). He was heavily involved in the state’s response to the massive fires of 1998 and the drought that plagued Florida in the early part of this decade.
 
Fugate eventually rose to deputy director and was in charge of running the state’s Emergency Operations Center, before Republican Governor Jeb Bush tabbed Fugate on October 3, 2001, to take over FDEM. This made Fugate something of a rarity in Florida—a Democrat being asked to join a GOP administration.  Fugate considers himself a fiscal conservative and somewhat of a libertarian on social issues.
 
Taking control of Florida’s emergency management division meant coordinating disaster response, recovery, preparedness and mitigation efforts with the state’s 67 counties and local governments. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Fugate oversaw the management of Federal Homeland Security funding for Florida and developing the state’s Domestic Security Strategy with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
 
In 2004, Florida was impacted by four major hurricanes (Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne), setting a record in both numbers of storms as well as damages for the state. In 2005, Florida was again impacted by four hurricanes with Hurricane Dennis and Wilma striking as major hurricanes (Category 3 or greater). That year, Fugate had to deal with meddling US military officials who tried to step in and take over emergency operations. The Pentagon’s Northern Command, established as a domestic military force after 9/11, tried to take charge in Florida before Rita crossed the Florida Keys. Then, six days before Wilma hit, a three-star general called the Florida National Guard commander to say he was flying troops into Florida and would set up a joint command. Gov. Bush intervened by calling Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff to complain about the unnecessary intrusion. Chertoff, who worked for Bush’s brother, agreed to the governor’s request.
 
Fugate did take some heat in 2005 for not distributing enough ice, water and other supplies immediately after Hurricane Wilma. Fugate had warned residents before the storm that they should have enough supplies for three days after it passed, but many did not, which taxed the state’s emergency supplies.
 
In December 2006, Republican Governor Charlie Crist reappointed Fugate as director of FDEM. During his tenure as Florida’s top emergency official, Fugate has dealt with 23 Declared State Emergencies, 11 of which were Presidential Declared Disasters totaling over $4.5 billion in federal assistance.
 
His nomination to take charge of FEMA was praised by the International Association of Emergency Managers, members of Congress, Jeb Bush, and other emergency management officials. “He’s not your typical government bureaucrat,” said Max Mayfield, the former director of the National Hurricane Center. “He has a grasp of all aspects of emergency management from preparedness to response to recovery.”
 
“Craig is an unflappable, steadying influence for the state,” said Wayne Sallade, the emergency management director in Charlotte County, FL, echoing other comments that Fugate is often “the calmest guy in the room” when disaster strikes.
 
If he is confirmed by the Senate, Fugate will be the second Floridian to head FEMA—after the infamous Michael Brown, who led FEMA during the Katrina crisis in New Orleans.
 
Fugate and his wife Sheree (whom he married in January 2002) are enthusiastic sea kayakers and Fugate maintains a web site on the subject.
 
Craig Fugate’s Sea Kayaking Blog (Seakayakflorida.com)
Obama picks Florida's Fugate to head FEMA (by Eileen Sullivan and Brent Kallestad, Associated Press)
Calmest Guy in the Room (by Neil Skene, Florida Trend)
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Bookmark and Share
Overview:

Located within the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for coordinating the federal government’s response to natural and manmade disasters. FEMA is charged with providing both immediate and long-term assistance to local and state governments as well as individuals. Throughout its almost 30-year history, FEMA has been synonymous with the word “disaster.” Not only is this because of the agency’s mission to assist in times of crisis, but also due to its long record of mistakes and, in some cases, failures that have exacerbated suffering caused by storms, fires or earthquakes.

 
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History:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The federal government has provided disaster relief in one form or another since the early 19th century. The Congressional Act of 1803 is considered the first piece of disaster legislation in US history, providing assistance to a New Hampshire town following an extensive fire. Over the next century ad hoc legislation was passed more than 100 times in response to hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters. Laws unique to each disaster authorized financial assistance to victims and both personnel and equipment to assist in recovery and clean up.

 
By the 1930s the Reconstruction Finance Corporation was given authority to make disaster loans for repair and reconstruction of certain public facilities following earthquakes and other types of disasters. In 1934, the Bureau of Public Roads was given authority to provide funding for highways and bridges damaged by natural disasters. The Flood Control Act, which gave the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers greater authority to implement flood control projects, was also passed. This piecemeal approach to disaster assistance was problematic, prompting legislation that required greater cooperation between federal agencies and authorized the president to coordinate these activities.
 
In 1950 Congress passed the Disaster Relief Act, the nation’s first comprehensive federal disaster relief law. Once the president declared a natural catastrophe had overwhelmed a locale, federal aid could be provided in the form of equipment, supplies, facilities, personnel and other resources. The act also stipulated assistance could be distributed through the Red Cross. The Housing and Home Finance Administrator (HHFA) was charged with coordinating federal relief efforts.
 
As a result of the growing Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union and its corresponding fear of nuclear war, civil defense became a major issue of concern during the 1950s. In response President Harry Truman established the Federal Civil Defense Administrator (FCDA) by executive order. The FCDA functioned as an independent federal agency and was led by a presidential-appointed administrator. The FCDA was charged with coordinating civil defense responsibilities among federal departments and agencies and to review and coordinate civil defense activities at the state and local level. It was further directed to “procure, construct, lease, transport, store, maintain, renovate or distribute materials and facilities for civil defense,” to sell or dispose of unneeded property, and to make civil-defense-related grants to the states, according to the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950.
 
Under President Dwight Eisenhower federal management of disasters was shifted to the newly created Office of Defense and Civilian Mobilization (ODCM). This move marked the beginning of the White House-centered era of disaster management relief. The ODCM was led by a director, deputy director and three assistant directors, all appointed by the president.
 
ODCM’s responsibilities shifted somewhat under the administration of John F. Kennedy, who moved certain civil defense responsibilities to the Department of Defense, including development of fallout shelters and early warning alerts to government officials and citizens in case of a nuclear attack. Kennedy also moved responsibilities for stockpiling food and medical supplies to the Agriculture Department and the Health, Education and Welfare Department, respectively. Because of these changes, the name of the ODCM was changed to the Office of Emergency Planning (OEP).
 
The 1960s and early 1970s saw the nation hit by several natural disasters requiring federal response. Hurricane Carla struck in 1962, Hurricane Betsy in 1965, Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Agnes in 1972. The Alaskan Earthquake hit in 1964 and the San Fernando Earthquake rocked Southern California in 1971. These events served to focus attention on the issue of natural disasters and brought about increased legislation. In 1968, the National Flood Insurance Act offered new flood protection to homeowners, and in 1974 the Disaster Relief Act firmly established the process of presidential disaster declarations.
 
Furthermore, President Richard Nixon moved federal disaster relief authority out of the White House and shifted it to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Under HUD the Federal Disaster Assistance Administration (FDAA) was created to take the place of the OEP. Also, the General Services Administration (GSA) was charged with responsibilities related to continuity of government in the event of a military attack, to resource mobilization and management of national security stockpiles. In addition Nixon abolished the Office of Civil Defense and created the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency within the Department of Defense.
 
This decentralized approach to disaster management was criticized by the nation’s governors in 1977 who issued a report declaring that “emergency preparedness and response functions were fragmented at the state and federal levels.” The report recommended a more comprehensive approach to emergency management that would include, in addition to preparedness and response, mitigation of hazards in advance of disasters and preparations for long-term recovery. President Jimmy Carter agreed a change was in store.
 
President Carter's 1979 executive order merged many of the separate disaster-related responsibilities into the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that absorbed, among others: the Federal Insurance Administration, the National Fire Prevention and Control Administration, the National Weather Service Community Preparedness Program, the Federal Preparedness Agency of the General Services Administration and the Federal Disaster Assistance Administration activities from HUD. Civil defense responsibilities were also transferred to FEMA from the Defense Department's Defense Civil Preparedness Agency.
 
By 1983 FEMA was struggling to become a cohesive, effective organization. A General Accounting Office (GAO) report found serious problems with FEMA’s management structure and operation. Assessments of FEMA by the end of the 1980s suggested that the agency had improved, but shortcomings remained. Following criticism of FEMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo and the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989, a 1991 GAO study found that, media coverage notwithstanding, “FEMA generally fulfilled its statutory obligations to supplement state and local efforts” to respond to the disasters. However, the report also said FEMA was not prepared to take over a state’s role as immediate responder in the event the state’s resources were overwhelmed, and FEMA had placed little emphasis on preparing for long-term recovery in the aftermath of a disaster. Some of FEMA’s actions during Hugo and Loma Prieta were criticized in the report as inefficient and uncoordinated.
 
In response to this criticism, the Federal Response Plan (FRP) was created in 1992 to better prepare the country for a major disaster. The plan was put to test later that year when Hurricane Andrew hit south Florida as a Category 4 hurricane and the central Louisiana coast as a Category 3 hurricane. The storm caused 23 deaths and $26.5 billion in damage, mostly in south Florida. FEMA’s response was criticized as thousands of homeless Floridians spent days searching for food, water and help while relief efforts lagged. In an attempt to make up for FEMA’s failure, President George H.W. Bush sent in a task force (minus FEMA) led by Secretary of Transportation Andrew Card, Jr., to coordinate the response.
 
Perceptions of poor performance by FEMA in response to Hurricane Andrew led to calls by Congress for reassessment and reform of FEMA. President Bill Clinton responded by nominating James L. Witt as the new FEMA director. Witt became the first agency director with experience as a state emergency manager. He initiated sweeping reforms that streamlined disaster relief and recovery operations, insisted on a new emphasis regarding preparedness and mitigation and focused agency employees on customer service. The end of the Cold War also allowed Witt to redirect more of FEMA's limited resources from civil defense into disaster relief, recovery and mitigation programs.
 
During his tenure Witt was credited him with reforming FEMA by lessening the bureaucracy, emphasizing the input of the agency's professional staff and focusing on working with communities to prepare for disasters. Charged with coordinating 22 different federal agencies as part of the Federal Response Plan to disasters, FEMA was elevated to a cabinet-level status in 1996 by President Clinton.
 
According to a report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), FEMA had improved in many ways by the end of the Clinton Administration. “Rather than suffering constant criticism from the media and political leaders, the agency was cited as a source of best practices in agency transformation in one study,” read the CRS report. It went on to say that FEMA was not without faults, citing the agency’s financial management and disaster declaration process as areas that could still use improvement.
 
With the election of George W. Bush, FEMA was placed under the leadership of Joe Allbaugh, the president’s former campaign director. In keeping with the Bush budget-cutting agenda, Allbaugh sets out to trim FEMA. According to the CRS report, Allbaugh declared of FEMA, “The existing organization is not the best fit for the evolving mission of the Agency nor does it support President Bush’s restructuring and streamlining goals.” Allbaugh sought to reorganize FEMA to “flatten the organization where possible” and reduce the number of organizations within it through consolidation.
 
Further, more substantive changes followed for FEMA following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In March 2003 President Bush created the Department of Homeland Security, the largest reorganization of government in 40 years. As part of the process, FEMA was downgraded from an independent agency to a department under Homeland Security and lost money to other agencies. Morale plummeted at FEMA, and scores of lifelong employees left. Allbaugh also left for the private sector and was replaced by Michael Brown, FEMA’s counsel, whose credentials for leading the agency came under question following the agency’s failure to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Brown was publicly ridiculed for his lack of disaster planning experience and for his lobbying work on behalf of the International Arabian Horse Association.
 
It turned out that in 2004 FEMA had sponsored a disaster planning exercise called "Hurricane Pam." Its scenario: a devastating hurricane hits New Orleans, with more than 100,000 people left behind in the city. However, the "Pam" exercise was not completed due to funding cuts by the Bush administration.
 
On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, causing catastrophic damage to the city of New Orleans. The levies surrounding the city were breached, and 80% of the city was flooded. Almost 1,500 people died and thousands of others were left stranded with no help for days following the storm. Media reports repeatedly showed residents stranded on rooftops while looting and mayhem occurred in areas throughout the city, including the Superdome where thousands of refugees had sought shelter from the hurricane.
 
The Bush administration and FEMA were heavily criticized for the slow response by the federal government, including the president’s early praise of Michael Brown for his leadership in handling the crisis. A short time later Michael Brown was forced to resign. 
 
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, committees in both chambers of Congress and the Bush Administration conducted investigations into what went wrong. FEMA’s new director, R. David Paulison, a former Miami fire chief, streamlined the agency’s operations, hired hundreds of more employees, outfitted delivery trucks with satellite tracking systems, purchased record amounts of ice and water, and signed more than $4 billion in forward contracts with big engineering firms and the U.S. military for emergency supplies and services that could be activated during a disaster. FEMA now claims it has enough provisions to feed one million disaster victims for a week, and it has made arrangements with the Department of Defense for backup supplies should the need arise. To speed up assistance to victims, the agency also has tripled its daily capacity to inspect homes for damage following a storm.
 
How Reliable Is Brown's Resume? (Daren Fonda and Rita Healy, Time)

FEMA regroups after Katrina, but some question its readiness

(by Robert Block, Wall Street Journal)

 

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What it Does:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located within the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for coordinating the federal government’s response to disasters. FEMA is charged with providing help to local and state governments and residents both immediately following a disaster and in the longer term. It also conducts programs to help prepare for disasters. The kinds of assistance FEMA provides ranges from advising on building codes and flood plain management to helping equip local and state emergency agencies to coordinating the federal response to a disaster. FEMA’s Organizational Structure (PDF) consists of offices that handle preparation, response, recovery and risk reduction.

 
Preparation
FEMA fully or partially funds emergency management programs and staff in all 50 states and six US territories and helps design and equip emergency operations in thousands of localities. An important objective of this assistance is effective preparedness through planning. Emergency Operations Plans are updated periodically and submitted to FEMA for review.
 
FEMA's National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, MD, is the home of the Emergency Management Institute and the National Fire Academy. At the center emergency managers, firefighters and elected officials take classes in areas of emergency management, including emergency planning, exercise design and evaluation disaster management, hazardous materials response and fire service management.
 
FEMA also conducts exercises to better prepare federal agencies for disasters. From "tabletop" discussions of a specific problem to full scale exercises that involve a detailed disaster scenario that unfolds over several days, FEMA coordinates events that bring together government agencies and volunteer organizations that would respond in a real disaster.
 
The Community and Family Preparedness Program educates the public about disaster awareness and preparation.
 
Response
FEMA activities under this mission involve mobilizing and positioning emergency equipment, getting people out of danger, providing food, water, shelter and medical services and bringing damaged services and systems back on line. FEMA is charged with working in coordination with state and local government agencies and private organizations to carry out response duties. To better handle emergency situations, FEMA maintains 10 regional centers across the country:
  • Region I (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont)
  • Region II (New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands)
  • Region III (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and W. Virginia)
  • Region IV (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, N. Carolina, S. Carolina and Tennessee)
  • Region V (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin)
  • Region VI (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas)
  • Region VII (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska)
  • Region VIII (Colorado, Montana, N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Utah and Wyoming)
  • Region IX (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Federated States of Micronesia)
  • Region X (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington)
 
Recovery
In the event of a disaster FEMA facilitates with federal loans and grants to areas destroyed. Funds can used to rebuild homes, businesses and public facilities, to clear debris and repair roads and bridges and to restore water, sewer and other essential services.
 
State governors can request three types of federal assistance: Individual assistance for individuals, families, farmers and businesses consisting of loans and grants, emergency housing, tax relief and unemployment assistance; public assistance for states, local communities and nonprofit groups; and matching mitigation funds for states and local communities for projects that eliminate or reduce an area's vulnerability to a hazard.
 
Risk Reduction

In an effort to reduce the cost and damage of flood disasters, FEMA oversees the

Federal Insurance Administration (FIA)

. The FIA partners with national insurance companies to provide affordable flood insurance. Local communities can become eligible for such insurance by enforcing floodplain management practices.

 

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Where Does the Money Go:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtually every American is a potential key stakeholder of FEMA, depending on when a particular disaster might strike. From earthquakes out west to tornadoes in the plains state and south to hurricanes along the Atlantic seaboard, the agency is one of the most important in the federal government when it comes to its potential impact on lives when a crisis occurs. FEMA provides information for those in potential danger of floods due to storms or levy breaks. See Levee Information for Stakeholders.

 
Thousands of public employees at all levels of government are also potential stakeholders. Public safety can be particularly involved with FEMA in the event of a disaster. Currently, there are 17,784 law enforcement agencies spread out across the federal, state, and local levels of government. There are also 1.1 million firefighters in the US (including 823,950 volunteers). In cases such as Hurricane Katrina, the National Guard can become involved. The Air National Guard has more than 106,000 personnel and the Army National Guard around 325,000 personnel. These numbers include units currently serving in Iraq.
 
Offices of emergency services exist at the state level that communicate with FEMA during a crisis. All 50 states, as well as six US territories, maintain their own emergency bureaus. A complete listing of these offices can be found here.
 
Building contractors and subcontractors, engineers and architects are another key group that stands to gain from FEMA decision-making. These include builders hired to remodel, refurbish or replace destroyed homes, businesses and government buildings. Manufacturers of mobile homes, such as Indiana-based Camping World, Gulf Stream Coach, Inc. (the country’s largest privately held RV maker), Pilgrim International, Inc., and Keystone R.V. Co., can become very public stakeholders as a result of supplying FEMA with formaldehyde-contaminated trailers used to house homeless following Katrina. (see Controversies)
 
Another key interest group of FEMA’s are insurance companies, primarily those who offer property and casualty insurance. These include:

 

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Controversies:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Underground Fuel Tanks Could Leak

FEMA has known since at least the 1990s that some of the underground fuel tanks it owns are at risk for leaking hazardous substances that could contaminate drinking water around the country.
Underground FEMA fuel tanks could leak (by Eileen Sullivan, Associated Press)
 
Toxic Trailers
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, FEMA bought 145,000 mobile home trailers to provide shelter to those who lost their homes in the disaster. FEMA spent $2.7 billion largely through no-bid contracts, a decision that proved ill-advised. In March 2007 it was reported that the agency was selling off as many as 41,000 of the homes (and netting about 40 cents on each dollar spent by taxpayers) even though thousands of residents throughout the south were in need of shelter following storms from the previous winter.
 
Furthermore, complaints began to surface about the trailers making people sick. Dubbed “toxic tin cans,” the trailers were found to have formaldehyde, a human carcinogen, in the walls. The airborne form of the chemical was used in the making of composite wood and plywood panels. Air quality tests of 44 FEMA trailers conducted by the Sierra Club revealed formaldehyde concentrations as high as 0.34 parts per million – a level nearly equal to what a professional embalmer would be exposed to on the job, according to one study.
 
In spite of the public controversies, FEMA has continued to distribute the trailers to other displaced persons. In August 2007 residents of southern Minnesota were hit by historic floodwaters, causing many to lose their homes. FEMA provided trailers, and complaints similar to those raised by Katrina victims have surfaced.
 
To make matters worse, FEMA was accused in January 2008 of trying to suppress information in a scientific study on formaldehyde in the trailers. Congressman Nick Lampson (D-TX) claimed an official from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) informed a congressional committee that “good science wasn't followed when a decision was made to allow people to live in basically travel trailers that were not designed to be lived in." FEMA denied that it suppressed any report.
 
In February CDC released its preliminary findings for the FEMA Trailer Study. It found higher than typical indoor exposure levels of formaldehyde in travel trailers and mobile homes used as emergency housing in the Gulf Coast Region. 
 
Almost 150,000 households have lived in FEMA trailers at some point since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005. FEMA says about 40,000 families are still living in the travel trailers.
FEMA Taking Hit on Sale of Surplus Trailers (by Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post)
           
Fake Press Conference
In the fall of 2007 Southern California was hit hard by several large wildfires. Following Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) emergency declaration, FEMA stepped in to help. By its own accounts during a news conference on Oct. 23, the agency responded well to the crisis, providing “good coordination” between federal and state agencies and effective help locating separated family members, said FEMA’s No. 2 man, Harvey E. Johnson, Jr. “This is a FEMA and a federal government leaning forward, not waiting to react, and you have to be pretty pleased to see that,” said Johnson, who added that the mayor of San Diego and the governor were happy with FEMA’s response, unlike what happened during Hurricane Katrina when the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana repeatedly criticized the agency’s handling of the unfolding crisis.
 
Johnson’s remarks came in response to off-camera questions by what were assumed to be members of the media. Following the press conference, word leaked out that no reporters had participated in what turned out to be a staged event by FEMA. A subsequent internal investigation by the agency found that FEMA's press secretary had directed aides to pose as reporters, secretly coached them during the briefing and ended the event after a final, scripted question was asked. The investigation did not address whether Johnson knew ahead of time that staffers would be tossing out the softball questions.
 
According to the inquiry, FEMA announced the news conference at its Southwest Washington headquarters only 15 minutes before it was to begin at 1 p.m., making it impossible for real reporters to attend. None did, and real reporters listening on a telephone conference line were barred from asking questions.
 
FEMA’s top official, R. David Paulison, criticized his external relations staff for conducting the fake news conference, calling the stunt “devastating” to the agency’s reputation. Both the press secretary and the director of external affairs resigned in the wake of the controversy.
 
An indication that something was wrong with the press conference came at the very end of the event. Following Johnson’s reply to the last question, an off-camera “reporter” can be heard saying, “Thanks, boss.”

FEMA's fake press conference

(YouTube)

 

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Suggested Reforms:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although considerable changes have been implemented at FEMA to improve the effectiveness of the agency, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has continued to find shortcomings. In just the first two months of 2008, four GAO reports were issued pointing out problems with FEMA’s programs to provide adequate mental health counseling to disaster victims; improve coordination between government agencies and non-profits; provide emergency transit assistance during disasters; and better manage disaster-related resources.

 

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Comments

Karon meredith 2 years ago
My house is flooding right now for the fourth time in two weeks. I need help, and something has to give, pls help us. I am at a friends workshop but my kids are home, and bedroom s are flooded and going further in the house. Pls help. Now where I am they are flooding also. I hope we don't have to try and leave because we probably won't make it through all the water. Pease help us with this issue so it won't do it anymore and make sure we are safe. Karon meresith 903-602-6921. Karon_meredith@yahoo.com
beatrice sharp 6 years ago
my neighbor recieved fema money for lost cows this year. how is this type of lost estimated? do you ever know how many cows a person has in the first place and/or where the carcasas end up? just wondering about all the cattle farmers that lost cattle in the past that never used government funds? there has been many floods in arkansas for hundreds of years most good farmers work, at it 24/7 and know when to move their heards for safety. i live where this flood occoured, i also have l...

Leave a comment

Founded: 1979
Annual Budget: $8 billlion
Employees: 3,000
Official Website: http://www.fema.gov/
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Long, Brock
Director

William Brockmann “Brock” Long, whose entire career has been spent in emergency management in the public and private sectors, was announced on April 28, 2017, as the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He was confirmed by a 95-4 U.S. Senate vote on June 20, 2017.

 

Long was born April 16, 1975, and is from Newton, North Carolina, son of William, a physician, and Kay. Long graduated from Newton-Conover High School and attended Appalachian State University. He earned a B.S. in criminal justice in 1997 and a master’s in public administration in 1999.

 

Long entered the emergency management field right out of college, joining Georgia’s emergency management agency as a planner and school safety coordinator. He joined the George W. Bush administration in November 2001 as a hurricane program manager in FEMA for six states—Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, but, significantly, not Louisiana, which bore the brunt of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. One of his achievements was the distribution of a hurricane computer game for grade-school students that focused on preparedness for such storms.

 

Long left FEMA in 2006. The following year, he was named southeast regional director for Beck Disaster Recovery, a consulting firm that specialized in emergency planning, disaster training and post-event recovery. In January 2008, Long became director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, where he directed the state’s response to incidents as different as the H1N1 flu virus and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as hurricanes and other storms. Long’s experience with schools was particularly prized by Alabama after a school in the town of Enterprise collapsed during a 2007 tornado, killing eight students.

 

Long also served on the board of directors of the Central United States Earthquake Consortium.

 

He returned to the private sector in January 2011 as an executive vice president for Hagerty Consulting, which advises on homeland security and emergency management issues. He is also the private sector chairman of the National Emergency Management Association, which brings together the state directors of emergency services.

 

Long and his wife, Amanda, have two sons: William and Isaac. They make their home in Hickory, North Carolina.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Brock Long (LinkedIn)

Brock Long (Hagetrty Consulting)

Official Announcement

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Fugate, Craig
Previous Administrator

Taking over the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), one of the most historically ridiculed federal operations in the United States, is W. Craig Fugate, whom some have called “Mr. Hurricane.” Fugate brings a long resume of tackling disasters, after heading up Florida’s version of FEMA for most of this decade. Fugate assumed the office in May 2009.

 
A native Floridian whose ancestry traces back to Spanish land grants, Fugate, 49, was born at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station, the son of a career Navy veteran. He grew up outside Gainesville in the town of Alachua. His mother died when he was 11 years old, and his father five years later. He was active in the Future Farmers of America chapter at Santa Fe High School in Alachua. Then, in addition to raising cows, he became a volunteer firefighter like his father and his uncle.
 
Fugate went to the Florida State Fire College. After graduating, he signed on as a paramedic with Alachua County. In time he became a lieutenant in the fire department, and a management training program led to his appointment as the county’s emergency rescue manager in 1987.
 
He served 10 years as the emergency rescue manager for Alachua County, until May 1997, when he was appointed Chief of the Bureau of Preparedness and Response with the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM). He was heavily involved in the state’s response to the massive fires of 1998 and the drought that plagued Florida in the early part of this decade.
 
Fugate eventually rose to deputy director and was in charge of running the state’s Emergency Operations Center, before Republican Governor Jeb Bush tabbed Fugate on October 3, 2001, to take over FDEM. This made Fugate something of a rarity in Florida—a Democrat being asked to join a GOP administration.  Fugate considers himself a fiscal conservative and somewhat of a libertarian on social issues.
 
Taking control of Florida’s emergency management division meant coordinating disaster response, recovery, preparedness and mitigation efforts with the state’s 67 counties and local governments. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Fugate oversaw the management of Federal Homeland Security funding for Florida and developing the state’s Domestic Security Strategy with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
 
In 2004, Florida was impacted by four major hurricanes (Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne), setting a record in both numbers of storms as well as damages for the state. In 2005, Florida was again impacted by four hurricanes with Hurricane Dennis and Wilma striking as major hurricanes (Category 3 or greater). That year, Fugate had to deal with meddling US military officials who tried to step in and take over emergency operations. The Pentagon’s Northern Command, established as a domestic military force after 9/11, tried to take charge in Florida before Rita crossed the Florida Keys. Then, six days before Wilma hit, a three-star general called the Florida National Guard commander to say he was flying troops into Florida and would set up a joint command. Gov. Bush intervened by calling Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff to complain about the unnecessary intrusion. Chertoff, who worked for Bush’s brother, agreed to the governor’s request.
 
Fugate did take some heat in 2005 for not distributing enough ice, water and other supplies immediately after Hurricane Wilma. Fugate had warned residents before the storm that they should have enough supplies for three days after it passed, but many did not, which taxed the state’s emergency supplies.
 
In December 2006, Republican Governor Charlie Crist reappointed Fugate as director of FDEM. During his tenure as Florida’s top emergency official, Fugate has dealt with 23 Declared State Emergencies, 11 of which were Presidential Declared Disasters totaling over $4.5 billion in federal assistance.
 
His nomination to take charge of FEMA was praised by the International Association of Emergency Managers, members of Congress, Jeb Bush, and other emergency management officials. “He’s not your typical government bureaucrat,” said Max Mayfield, the former director of the National Hurricane Center. “He has a grasp of all aspects of emergency management from preparedness to response to recovery.”
 
“Craig is an unflappable, steadying influence for the state,” said Wayne Sallade, the emergency management director in Charlotte County, FL, echoing other comments that Fugate is often “the calmest guy in the room” when disaster strikes.
 
If he is confirmed by the Senate, Fugate will be the second Floridian to head FEMA—after the infamous Michael Brown, who led FEMA during the Katrina crisis in New Orleans.
 
Fugate and his wife Sheree (whom he married in January 2002) are enthusiastic sea kayakers and Fugate maintains a web site on the subject.
 
Craig Fugate’s Sea Kayaking Blog (Seakayakflorida.com)
Obama picks Florida's Fugate to head FEMA (by Eileen Sullivan and Brent Kallestad, Associated Press)
Calmest Guy in the Room (by Neil Skene, Florida Trend)
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