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!