FEMA has come in for its share of criticism in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. Reporter Jennifer Johnson of the Examiner ("The Independent Voice of Southeast Texas") comments here on the long wait for temporary housing for some displaced Ike victims.
The Association of State Floodplain Managers has this suggestion for the Obama transition team: to make FEMA "nimble and effective" again, take it back out of the Department of Homeland Security. The floodplain managers got to like FEMA in the 1990s, they say: "FEMA had developed the capacity for flexibility and well-coordinated, genuine give-and-take partnerships with states and localities."
But FEMA has gone south, say the state officials: since being assimilated into Homeland Security, "we have witnessed a distinct loss of effectiveness on the part of FEMA, diminished agency morale, and a hobbled capacity to perform its mission...Slowdowns due to the added layers of the large DHS bureaucracy have increased dramatically, both at FEMA headquarters and in its regional offices."
After the Katrina debacle, say the floodplain managers, FEMA started to pay more attention to readiness and response. But the long-term missions of mitigation and recovery have gotten short shrift, they complain. No word yet on whether the Obama team is listening.
FEMA is pushing the idea of mitigation, though — in the form of YouTube videos (FEMA has its own YouTube channel). Here, Kemah, Texas, homeowner Paul Strizek explains how elevating his house let the building survive Ike while neighbors' homes were swept away. Stay tuned to Coastal Connection for in-depth coverage of Ike recovery, and the lessons learned.