Amanda Ripley

Nav

← Back to Posts

Dr. Death Comes to FEMA

11th Aug 2009 posted in Disaster Behavior

This year, Americans will experience some 1,200 tornadoes and 8,000 wildfires. A handful of storms will probably turn into honest-to-God hurricanes. Disasters are getting more common and more expensive, largely because we keep moving more of our valuables into the country’s most beautiful, unstable places.

Watching over this all-night, boom-bust casino is Craig Fugate, the new head of FEMA under President Barack Obama. Check out my story in the new Atlantic about why Fugate, a former firefighter, is an unusual choice for the job.

My prediction is that Fugate’s personality will be an asset on some days—and a handicap on the Hill on other days. The little known secret about FEMA is that it doesn’t actually do anything; it just leverages partnerships with other organizations. As head of this giant co-op, Fugate will likely command the respect of many of FEMA’s partners. But he will also have to kowtow to Congress to get the resources he needs.