Amanda Ripley

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Extreme Makeover: FEMA Edition!

5th Jun 2008 posted in General

And now we pause to celebrate that most rare and precious of news: FEMA may be getting stronger. At least in some places.

I wouldn’t trust everyone on this, but I trust Eric Holdeman. Based in Seattle, Eric ran King County’s Office of Emergency
Management in Washington state for 11 years, and he is a reporter’s lifesaver: he knows a ton; he will tell you the truth; and if he doesn’t know the answer, he’ll send you to someone who does.

Anyway, Eric’s blog is a useful clearinghouse for news in emergency preparedness. And the other day, he tacked up this pretty swatch of hope (please forgive the emergency-ops jargon. That’s just how these guys talk.):

I got the following information from Garry Briese, Regional Administrator for FEMA Region VIII in Colorado. I had commented to him about the tornado that hit Colorado. He replied, “The tornado was impressive, but not nearly as destructive as the ones in Kansas and Iowa. Our 5-person State Support Team (SST) from R8 was in the state EOC within two hours of the impact and we launched a second team to Wyoming the next morning. On the initial helicopter fly-over that same afternoon, our SST Team Leader was on the helicopter with the Governor. Twenty-four hours after impact we had more than 50 FEMA on site doing communications (MERS) and preliminary damage assessment (IA & PA). Best of all, the Presidential Declaration was requested, processed here, sent to FEMA, sent to the WH [White House], and approved within 48 hours over the holiday weekend.”

I’ve been involved in many disaster response activities at the state and local level. The speed with which FEMA Region VIII responded and also the State of Colorado in requesting the disaster declaration is I think very impressive!

Maybe things are really getting better. Way to go FEMA!