One thought on “Interim Office of the Flood Ins. Advocate – at FEMA

  1. It’s important to keep in mind that the creation of an “advocacy” office at FEMA may very well be a strategy by the agency to put an additional layer of bureaucracy in place but not solve any actual problem.

    In the legislative and oversight aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster recovery, FEMA was required to create an office dedicated to ensuring those with disabilities are provided with equal access to program services. The Office of Disability Coordination was created, and it is headed by a Presidential appointee ( So it all sounds very authoritative, official, and like it is intended to solve actual problems.

    Folks both within FEMA and at other agencies now point to that office and claim it solves problems for those with disabilities.

    However, it is clear from the Hurricane Sandy recovery that not only does the Disability Office have no authority (or desire to gain authority), but it also has not ensured field staff are minimally trained (field staff use bullying tactics to propagate discriminatory ad-hoc “policies”), nor has it ensured anyone during a disaster recovery will receive equal access to services.

    But the existence of the office and the Director do give the agency an excuse when issues of disability discrimination are raised. Folks point to this “solution” as being a real solution.

    My guess is that the “Flood Insurance Advocate” is already well on its way to becoming a similar non-solution, and a way for FEMA to avoid actually discussing and solving actual problems.

    But, unfortunately, for those who are desperately looking for help with flood insurance problems, the lure of an “advocate” is likely (and naturally) going to tend to give a false sense of security. It will probably only be a few years from now when folks will realize that the promise of advocacy has been yet another false promise, intended to stifle real discussion, but not to solve actual problems.

    Fingers-crossed I am wrong about all this!

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