Saturday, September 17, 2005

why is it that the post-9/11 normal disaster relief system wasn't up to the challenge of Katrina

It seems as though, despite being fully apprised by state officials that Homeland Security had a "total lack of focus" on the common natural disaster Preznit Bush King George Emperor Nero sought to cut a key program to help local governments increase their preparedness.

Organizations representing emergency-response and security officials at state and local agencies had complained of funding shortages and what they saw as an excessive shift by the Homeland Security Department away from preparing for natural disasters, as it focused increasingly on terrorism.

In July, the National Emergency Management Association wrote lawmakers expressing "grave" concern that still-pending changes proposed by Chertoff would undercut the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

"Our primary concern relates to the total lack of focus on natural-hazards preparedness," David Liebersbach, the association's president, said in the July 27 letter to Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat, the leaders of a key Senate committee overseeing the agency.

He said Chertoff's emphasis on terrorism "indicates that FEMA's long-standing mission of preparedness for all types of disasters has been forgotten at DHS." [Reuters]

Local emergency management officials also warned the administration and, last April, the International Association of Emergency Managers indicated local programs were in desperate need of funding. Shortly thereafter the Preznit sought to cut program funding by 6% (the administration spin is that this wasn't a cut, but asserting his right to "just say no" to an increase in funding by Congress). The direct impact of Hurricane George on the state of Louisiana was a 26% decrease in funding this year.

Despite all the problems and requirement to turn in his honorary boy-scout membership, and his elevation to Grand Poobah of the Myopia Club for Men, Michael Chertoff has decided to continue with his plans for changes at FEMA instead of wating for an analysis of the Katrina response asserting that pesky facts and other useful information would just cause delays when moving forward without direction is best at this point in time.

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