FEMA has come in for its share of criticism in the aftermath
of Hurricane Ike. Reporter Jennifer Johnson of the Examiner
Independent Voice of Southeast Texas") comments here on the
long wait for temporary housing for some displaced Ike
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
Here, Kemah, Texas, homeowner
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.