U.S. Response to PR Criticized by U.N. Experts

From the NYTimes: U.S. Response to Storm-Hit Puerto Rico Is Criticized by U.N. Experts.  

Well this is embarrassing. The U.S. used to be considered a model for national emergency management….

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10 Responses to U.S. Response to PR Criticized by U.N. Experts

  1. JerseyShoreDave says:

    Believe me, I am not a supporter of FEMA base on my many years of adverse previous experience with the federal agency. However, considering the incredible scope of response/recovery work associated with the 2017 hurricane season along with the many wildfires out west, FEMA appears to be doing a remarkable job with managing these large scale disasters with resources readily available. Being a previous state emergency management official, Brock Long fully understands and appreciates the needs of storm victims and is responding accordingly. Administrator Long ignores the political drama and presses forward with the necessary emergency recovery work in the “lower 48 states” along with on the island of Puerto Rico.

    Keep in mind that FEMA is NOT organized or designed to be a first responder type of agency. All disasters are best handled at the local level and if local officials are depending on FEMA to perform first responder type of work, then they have failed their community. Competent local government units should be capable of managing initial recovery work including clearing of roads, restoring utilities to critical facilities and managing care of storm victims. Unlike Texas and Florida, Puerto Rico seems unable to perform these basic governmental functions and as a result, FEMA must step in and furnish the most basic of recovery work at the expense of long term recovery efforts.

    Regarding the no bid contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings to restore the power infrastructure in Puerto Rico, that contract was terminated within a few weeks of execution, which for government is moving at light speed. The contract to this firm was not appropriate and once recognized, FEMA took the initiative to take corrective action necessary to terminate the contract since it did not represent the best interest of the island community. This is an example of the “new FEMA” under Brock Long that acknowledgess a problem and strongly influences required action to properly resolve the matter. FEMA should be commended for taking the required action to termination the contract with a firm that obviously does not have necessary resources immediately available to remedy the numerous power concerns on the island.

    Having suffered professionally and personally from Hurricane Sandy, witnessed first hand the inadequate response from FEMA for a storm that impacted one of the most densely populated areas of the country. Do not recall the United Nations expressing outrage at the underwhelming response from FEMA to Hurricane Sandy. Despite this, the United Sates is by far the greatest nation in human history and takes better care of its citizens than any other country, including those citizens impacted by disaster. The United Nations needs to dedicate their time and energy to the many ongoing humanitarian crisis taking place all around the globe. On their worst day, FEMA will significantly outperform any UN relief agency with managing disasters operations.

  2. plodinec says:

    Frankly, I’m embarrassed by the article. Much of it deals with PERPA’s contract with a small MT company – what does this have to do with FEMA? FEMA was faced with three major disasters in less than a month – this hasn’t happened in at least two-thirds of a century? Puerto Rico hasn’t recovered as fast as TX and FL – how do we know that? What was its status before the storm? At least Puerto Rico has established and is tracking recovery goals – is FL and TX? I’m no fan of Trump, but Brock Long is doing an outstanding job. As to being under-resourced, maybe – but the Administration did task the DOD with helping in the early response and recover.

    As far as I can tell by reading the article, it is primarily grandstanding and contains little to no foundation of fact. It doesn’t consider the degree of difficulty of logistics and finance. A more apt comparison might be between PR’s recovery and that of Haiti after the EQ. Embarrassed – yes; both for the UN rapporteur and for the reporter who wrote this hatchet job for the Times.

  3. JerseyShoreDave says:

    FEMA is currently dealing with three major hurricanes along with a historic wildfire season in California so even under the best of circumstances FEMA would require additional personnel to handle. Furthermore, FEMA’s ability to respond to disasters was significantly eroded as a result of a reservist program that was adversely impacted by the previous administrator. It is my understanding that approximately 85% of FEMA full time workforce is currently in the field working the various disasters while additional personnel are hired and trained. Appears that Brock Long is managing the situation to the best of his ability based on available resources.

    Regarding the United Nations, they should focus on their own problems …. funny in all the disasters I have experienced in New Jersey, do not recall any UN first responders or relief agencies helping out storm victims.

    • recoverydiva says:

      The UN would not get involved in the U.S., a developed country. After the H. Sandy response went so badly, several countries offered to assist the U.S., including Cuba. I think that was a first, but the deficiencies were very obvious.
      To my knowledge the U.S. did not accept help from another country at that time.

  4. recoverydiva says:

    Even by the standard of FEMA responses in the past few years, you have to admit what is going on currently is not effective, efficient, and equitable emergency management at the national level.

    • RDale says:

      Really? I’ve not heard of any significant issues in Florida or Texas. Where have they dropped the ball?

      • recoverydiva says:

        See my last few posts, for complaints re FL. TX is not doing well either. Response efforts are going very slowly in both states. FEMA is in the process of hiring and training 2,000 more workers, which is an indicator of current understaffing.

      • RDale says:

        Anyone expecting the recovery effort to not have any complaints is unaware of how disaster recovery works 🙂 And if FEMA has to hire 2000 part-time staff to help the process – that’s a good thing, not bad. We shouldn’t be paying 2000 of them for years at a time in the off chance that one season we get three hurricanes.

  5. JerseyShoreDave says:

    I will take FEMA any day over the United Nations … no contest. All political drama here because the President is publicly holding the UN accountable for their actions or lack of action depending on the situation.

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