COVID-19: FEMA’s Role in the Response and Related Challenges. GAO-20-685T, Published: Jul 14, 2020.
From the NYTimes: New Data Reveals Hidden Flood Risk Across America
Nearly twice as many properties may be susceptible to flood damage than previously thought, according to a new effort to map the danger.
Across much of the United States, the flood risk is far greater than government estimates show, new calculations suggest, exposing millions of people to a hidden threat — and one that will only grow as climate change worsens.
That new calculation, which takes into account sea-level rise, rainfall and flooding along smaller creeks not mapped federally, estimates that 14.6 million properties are at risk from what experts call a 100-year flood, far more than the 8.7 million properties shown on federal government flood maps. A 100-year flood is one with a 1 percent chance of striking in any given year.
From Bloomberg: FEMA to Move Out of Lead Virus Role to Focus on Reopening. Agency is working to turn over responsibilities elsewhere. FEMA must prepare for June starts of hurricane season
It will be interesting to see if and how this change occurs.
Update on April 3. This opinion piece by Michele Goldberg of the NY Times makes the point that Kushner’s role is not only unusual, but dangerous. See: Jared Kushner Is Going to Get Us All Killed. Trump’s son-in-law has no business running the coronavirus response.
Also April 3, from WashPost: Why is Jared Kushner in charge of anything?’ Trump’s son-in-law sparks outcry, confusion after coronavirus briefing debut
Update on April 2. From the NYTimes: Kushner Puts Himself in Middle of White House’s Chaotic Coronavirus Response. President Trump’s son-in-law has become a central player in the administration’s effort to curb the pandemic. But critics say he is part of the problem.
From Politico this rather surprising account of a new, private-sector group at work at FEMA: Behind the scenes, Kushner takes charge of coronavirus response. Trump’s son-in-law sets up shop at FEMA as his portfolio balloons to include manufacturing, supplies and long-term planning.
From Eric Holdeman, fellow blogger: FEMA Administrator Asks State and Local Emergency Managers for Help! Don’t wait until you “see the whites of their eyes” in this coronavirus battle.
Note: Eric is the former EM Director for King County, WA.
A week after the government’s principal emergency response agency took the lead on the growing coronavirus pandemic, officials have been trying to catch up, hoping to streamline communication and sort out distribution to get necessary equipment to states pleading for help.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security, is deploying its extensive experience in disaster response to coordinate the federal response. In doing so, the agency has come under mounting pressure to create an organized and efficient process, and get states and hospitals the medical supplies they need. Internally, that’s also led to confusion and irritation as FEMA tries to take the leading position.
Multiple sources said that there was frustration among employees within the agency over being brought into the coronavirus response too late, coupled with fear that FEMA would ultimately take the blame for the bungled response.
“Of course, there’s confusion. I mean, Jesus,” a FEMA employee said.
From WashPost: FEMA Struggles With Sprawling Crisis as Season of Natural Disasters Lurks. And it threatens to swamp the agency.
From RAND and via Georgetown Journal of International Affairs: What Can FEMA Learn from the Historic 2017 Hurricane and Wildfire Seasons?
From BloombergNews: Coronavirus and Climate Change Could Stretch FEMA Past Its Limit. Staffing shortfalls at the U.S. disaster-response agency could impair its ability to tackle a pandemic on top of extreme weather events.
From ABC News: Where has FEMA been during coronavirus response? “FEMA did not provide one concrete example of what the agency is doing to help.”
Update on March 21: A bit more information on the process. What a National Emergency Means for FEMA During COVID-19 Crisis