FEMA: Excuses, Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

As someone who has observed the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) in (usually non-) action for three decades, it is nearly impossible to overstate how awful the agency is at its job of anticipating and mitigating the effect of disasters on America. I have written about it extensively in Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather and on this blog on numerous occasions (regarding Hurricane Sandy here).

Now we learn, predictably, how badly FEMA failed in the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. You can read the story for yourself, here. One thing in the story I wish to comment upon is the number of deaths in Maria. I do not believe the "official" number of 64. However, I also find Harvard's 4,000 to be far-fetched. 

Despite its assurances after every major disaster, FEMA doesn't get any better. My guess as to why is that a huge disaster like Andrew, Katrina, Maria, a Northridge Earthquake, etc., happens about once per administration. The administration is out of office by the time the next big disaster occurs and the cycle restarts.

For the first 203 years of the existence of the United States, we did without FEMA. Maybe it is time to try again.


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