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.
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 Robert Block, Wall Street Journal)
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.
In an effort to reduce the cost and damage of flood disasters, FEMA oversees the
. 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.
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.
Underground Fuel Tanks Could Leak
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.
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 of Miami, Florida, R. David Paulison, served as the top administrator of FEMA from September 2005 until the end of the administration of George W. Bush. Paulison earned his bachelor of arts from Florida Atlantic University and completed the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.