FEMA Wants More Responsibility for Recovery to Go to State and Local Governments

See this CNN article: FEMA Shifts Focus to Local Governments for Disaster Preparedness.

Your comments are invited!

I have heard this call many times in past years.  I remain skeptical that localities and states that have suffered extreme damage can assume extra responsibilities for response and recovery.

4 thoughts on “FEMA Wants More Responsibility for Recovery to Go to State and Local Governments

  1. Local government is by far the most accountable level of government and should gladly assume the overall responsibility of protecting their communities during emergencies. Local officials cannot hide in distance capitals or behind a bureaucratic organization incapable of understanding the suffering of disaster victims. Local officials encounter voters everyday in local stores, at school events and at local government public meetings, so they must be responsive to the needs of local residents.

    While I have no doubt there are federal workers who are caring and compassionate (I hold the National Weather Service and Coast Guard in high regard) they are drown out by federal employees (or contractors) who only care about completing a form or a checklist that qualifies them for a bonus. Believe there are many publications that describe the inefficiency and insensitivity of federal employees.

    Please, give financial resources to local governments. No question there will be occasions of waste and fraud with some local government officials. Best example of that will be Puerto Rico. However, the vast majority of local officials will greatly appreciate the federal funding and put it to good use. Most elected officials at the local level have a far greater understanding of the value of the taxpayer dollar and would use that funding wisely. Many communities along the coast are dealing with rising seal level and the greater frequency of extreme weather events absent any federal assistance. Vast majority of local officials know what needs to be done to mitigate damage from disasters and are not waiting for guidance or assistance from the federal government to take action.

    Also, many people have a misunderstanding of the role of FEMA in disasters. FEMA is not the silver bullet to disaster management and it is not the role of FEMA to be first responders. Local governments must plan for extreme weather events along with other man made disasters and make sure resources are readily available to help their communities with handling crisis situations. FEMA has an important role in disaster management and some aspects of the FEMA operation are impressive, like educationing and training local emergency managers. But FEMA’s job should not include being on the ground during disasters acting as a first responders. Understand that some federal government agencies, like the Coast Guad, that have first responder responsibilities due their fleet of helicopters desinged for rescue operations, but in most cases, local government should not be dependent on the federal government for immediate and short term needs common to large scale disasters…. as that will be a long and frustrating wait.

    • As a former contractor and still a consultant, I would like to say many of us are highly principled and dedicated to public service.
      I also have been a government employee at 3 levels of government and find many dedicated and caring people there too.

  2. Of course FEMA wants to devolve responsibility — since Katrina, our nation has lost faith that we can manage these mega-disasters that are becoming commonplace. We are moving back to where we were before Hurricane Andrew — just set up a few tents and send in the National Guard. And the only solution is mitigation — a long-term road and a hard sell politically but our only rational way forward, in an era of mega-storms and sea rise. Where will we get the money and, more important, the will? Send the buck to the locals and turn your head.

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