Historical Account of EM in the U.S. Needs Correction

Remember: All Disasters Are Local, says the FEMA Deputy Administrator; an article in Emergency Management Magazine, Nov. 14, based on Mr. Serino’s talk to IAEM Annual Conference.  I take issue with a couple of points made here:

“FEMA started in 1979. Did we have disasters before 1979?” Serino asked. “It was locals taking care of each other, then the states helping and eventually the federal government.”

The emphasis has gone back to neighbors taking care of one another, and local and state governments utilizing mutual-aid agreements and Emergency Management Assistance Compacts instead of waiting for the federal government.

This brief account of the history of emergency management before FEMA was formed is not accurate.  There were other federal agencies that dealt with disasters before FEMA was created, and the states and military had significant roles.

For a full and accurate account of emergency management development in the U.S.  I can recommend a good book:  Emergency Management; The American Experience, 1900-2005.  And the first 3 people from Mr. Serino’s office to contact me will get a free copy!

2 thoughts on “Historical Account of EM in the U.S. Needs Correction

  1. Mr. Serino is just another example of a transient bureaucrat with aspirations to greatness offered by a grand title but without quite the stature or erudition to fill the boots, sufficing only for the slippers. But, aye, since all disasters are local, this being such state in the present instance, we wish Mr. Serino a disaster-free and uneventful trip to the local bookstore to Ms. Rubin’s book….

    Once perused, the present disaster will surely transform into the epiphanic revelation that slogans used too often serve to demonstrate the lack of brains rather than the presence of erudite brightness, and that even Administrators, albeit only deputy, are obliged to master facts before they open their mouths….

  2. Deputy Administrator is perhaps too young to remember pre-1979 federal activity. Suggest he reads the History of Preparedness document DHS issued even though the civil defense history is somewhat misleading. Done by a contractor and accepted by DHS it does give some sense of pre-1979 activity. But of course reading about the past and EM is now and often in the past not been a strength of its leaders.

    All in FEMA whether junior journeymen and women or appointees should be given a copy of the American Experience book you edited.

    And Mr. Serrino might find it a surprise that some who came before him were faster, swifter, and perhaps brighter. But hey he still has time brother! or Sister!

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