Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 30, 2011

FEMA: A parenthetical but important third party endorsement

Filed under: Preparedness and Response,State and Local HLS — by Philip J. Palin on April 30, 2011

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)

The University of Alabama student newspaper, The Crimson White, is providing detailed reporting and sometimes different angles on the situation in hard-hit Tuscaloosa, including FEMA on the Ground.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

April 30, 2011 @ 9:47 am

The FEMA daily sitreps should be made available to MSM 24 hours after posting.

Much too soon but heavy reliance on American Red Cross for sheltering and mass care breaking down already.

Historically Alabama did little in the way of preparedness unless UNCLE SUGAR paid for it that way could always argue beyond STATE and Their Local Government capability.

The Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program operating around Anniston Arsenal is the leader in preparedness for Alabama.
Unfortunately for the victims and FEMA at least seven state declared already for disasters from this spring record outbreak of tornadic activity.

FUGATE despite the expense should have called off NLE 2011 and will have to do it sooner than later IMO. Obviously he did not want conclusions drawn about that capability but lives and actual people always more important than exercises.

Are there still FEMA SAR teams in Japan?

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 30, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

Just for the record reliable reports coming in that FEMA performance in N.C. Tornadoes two weeks ago was problematic. Hoping for the best of course NOW!

And of course FEMA not ARC is now the lead for ESF-6 mass care.

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