Friday evening on CNN, John King interviewed FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate on the ground in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The rather long interview included the following:
KING: All around the region we’re speaking to mayors and governors and the like and hear a lot of praise and compliments saying everybody seems to be working well together. As you know that’s not always the case in the past. Have there been any hiccups or unanticipated whether a supply shortage or chain of command issue?
FUGATE: No. Chain of command is easy. We’re in support of the governors. They’re in charge.Their state teams were up and running. Our job is to support them and in this case, particularly in Alabama, it’s really going to be supporting them in the recovery operation.
In the typical rhythm of news coverage, the stories emphasizing neglect, incompetence, and such generally do not begin for about 48 hours after the disaster. Still, this early positive framing is worth noting.
An Associated Press story filed early Saturday may signal the usual pivot to the attack. See: Southerners see their emergency safety net shredded. The story certainly highlights how local capabilities have in several instances been overwhelmed by the impact.
Substantively, this week’s extraordinary long-line tornadoes had a much more than typical impact on housing stock. This was especially the case because of the direct hit on Tuscaloosa, population 90,000. I have not yet seen a credible projection, but several hundred replacement homes and apartments will certainly be needed, the sooner the better.
The Alabama Emergency Management Agency released a new situation report shortly after 7:00 local time on Saturday. It is a pdf and, at least this morning, requires significant time to load, but is accessible at: http://ema.alabama.gov/filelibrary/SituationReport/SitRep8complete.pdf
Housing issues nagging at tornado victims (Los Angeles Times)
Power back for roughly two-thirds (Birmingham News)
Five federal agency chiefs in disaster zone (Politico)
Government’s disaster response wins praise (New York Times)
Is FEMA bold enough to get it right? (Delaware Online Editorial on FEMA’s role and Wicked Problems)