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janbb's avatar

Just an idle thought - does anyone now think we don't need FEMA?

Asked by janbb (43620 points ) November 7th, 2012

Seeing the provisions they are making and the assistance being offered, I can’t imagine any private agency or individual state being able to afford or coordinate such aid. Is there a case for the other side?

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30 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

I think Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney think we don’t need FEMA.

marinelife's avatar

I never did think we could or should do without FEMA.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Insurance companies won’t cover my home for flooding. If not for FEMA, who then?

wundayatta's avatar

I believe that many Republicans don’t think Federal Assistance is appropriate for disasters. They still believe it should be local or state assistance. I think what they mainly want is to get the money off the Federal budget, and have people raise taxes for local disaster assistance if they choose to. Federal just makes it seem painless. FEMA spends money like water without having to balance the budget.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

When a disaster of this size hits, the federal government is really the only one with the resources to respond. I was looking at the burned out houses and thinking it looks like a scene from WWII, like Dresden. There’s is no way a state or local government is going to have the resources to respond quickly without bankrupting themselves. I’d like something better than FEMA, but since we don’t have that yet, I’ll take FEMA.

Qingu's avatar

I do think it’s important to appoint someone to lead FEMA who has more relevant disaster-management experience than horse breeding.

A lot of these big government agencies get bad raps because Republicans sabotage them when they get in power, and/or appoint unqualified political crony hacks to manage them.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Christie certainly made a quick turn-around on this. No hesitation at all. ”I was on the phone for the third time yesterday, last night, with the president of the United States. I never thought I would ever see destruction like this.” —NJ Governor Christie the day after the storm.

I love it when these things come back and bite these guys in the ass.

jerv's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus That right there is the crux of the problem. Many Republicans go on about issues they know nothing about. For instance, when Romney was in college, he was so that he had to sell some of his stocks. He never had to choose between eating or paying the rent. Between the flooding in NH in 2005 and the ice storm in 2009, I know the importance of disaster relief better than those who have enough homes to lose one or two and still have someplace to live.

JLeslie's avatar

Did Christie ever say anything about getting rid of FEMA in the past?

Fred931's avatar

We just need a better FEMA. Sure seemed like it failed during Katrina IIRC, and definitely seems like it’s failing now with Sandy.

Perhaps there could be a way to reason with the idea of state/local support replacing the service. Maybe FEMA should act more to distribute funds to states for them to appropriate according to their own disaster-preparedness plans. Maybe there could even be a split between a national FEMA fund stockpile and the support given to states.

flutherother's avatar

That’s what is meant by “United States”. The states will help one another when help is required. I don’t know if FEMA is the best way of doing it but it will always be done.

Ron_C's avatar

FEMA has vastly improved since it’s disaster during Katrina. They actually have people that know and care about disaster relief and are let by a president that understands the problems of ordinary people and is prepared to lead. What a difference since Katina!

Qingu's avatar

@Fred931, how is FEMA failing with Sandy?

I read this on the Fox Nation opinion page, but I’m not sure what real thing you think you are referring to.

JLeslie's avatar

FEMA did not help during Katrina initially because the Governor of Louisana did not and refused to request help. She was a total idiot. Also the head of FEMA at the time was a total idiot. Bush, went along with the laws of waiting for the request from the state, even he says he should have broken the law and done something. The delay in helping Katrina victims has more to do with politicians and the states not asking for federal help, especially southern states, than whether FEMA was not run well or not.

zenvelo's avatar

Last week, while Sandy was hitting the east coast on Monday afternoon/evening, Michael Brown, former FEMA head under GW Bush, and head of FEMA during Hurricane Katrina, said that the President was acting too quickly, and that the Sandy victims should ‘just chill.”

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo I think we all know Mike Brown is an idiot.

Fred931's avatar

@Qingu Just a totally uneducated guess based on there are still a million or so without power. Sorry.

janbb's avatar

I have been hearing and seeing only good things about the current FEMA in this crisis and I am in the middle of it.

CWOTUS's avatar

I don’t think that it needs to be – or should be – a federal agency. I believe that states (or regional agencies set up by states to handle “the types of emergencies faced in common geographical areas”) could do the same thing more effectively – and quicker – as well as for lower cost.

But I know that most here believe in “more, more, more” government and centralization, so… no essay.

ucme's avatar

Oh look, here’s another idle thought…..i’m sorry, you adults carry on.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Fred931 Last I knew FEMA wasn’t a utility. The utilities are the ones performing poorly. FEMA came through well.

Qingu's avatar

@Fred931, that is a pretty uneducated guess. Flooded power stations with ruined generators, not to mention all the ruined wires, take a while to fix.

@CWOTUS, why on earth do you think it would be more effective, quicker, and lower cost? And why the hell is your suggestion “less government” than FEMA? It would be the same amount of government, just balkanized.

wundayatta's avatar

I am totally agnostic about who does it. I just want it done well. It seems to me that disasters are always going to be a problem no matter who organizes the response. For one thing, you only get a short warning time. They are always new and no one knows who will be hit. In fact, the first order of business to figure out who got hurt and where are they and what was the damage and what do they need, as a result.

They this information has to be communicated. And I don’t care who is running the program, this is where the problem is going to be. Maybe they could set up massive ways of communicating. Phones, email, internet, monitoring the news. And then sending the information directly to people who can use it.

There have to be models for this. I am sure that going through a central information exchange can’t be efficient. You need multiple channels. I’m sure there are people who have thought about this and have good models. But does FEMA use them? I have no idea.

But I really don’t think it matters who does it, so long as it gets done well. I don’t think there’s a structural reason why any government couldn’t do it well. I doubt if the private sector is any more efficient at this.

There’s not much secret to running an organization well. You need to monitor what you do, identify problems and bottlenecks, and solve them, all while balancing strategic concerns. and the overall mission. You just need really good people to do this.

janbb's avatar

@wundayatta I actually think it is better handled on a national level because then you are taking a little from a lot of people to help where it is needed. I can’t see that the tri-state region on its own could handle a disaster like this although of course, many private and state resources are being used in conjunction with FEMA. But then, I’m pretty much a government favoring person. (Sorry @CWOTUS – we’ll never agree on this.)

JLeslie's avatar

I think national is better because you never know. The northeast felt pretty safe from hurricanes and earthquakes, and then they go ahead and have a disaster. The worst earthquake in history in the contiguous 48 states was at New Madrid, MO reaching very far, Memphis would be a pile of rubble probably if another one that big hits, along with other communites along the river. We just had a 3.9 in NE Arkansas a couple weeks ago, I felt it 20 miles east of Memphis, a little rumble here. My earthquake insurance is a fortune. TN is not very prepared for it if the big one hits; we are in the process of improving things. Flash flooding kills more people each year than other disasters. At least that was the case 10 years ago when I learned it, maybe it has changed now. A bad storm can turn an area not usually at risk into a catastrophe.

augustlan's avatar

The problem I see with putting disaster relief responsibilities on the states is that, when a disaster hits…the state itself is the disaster zone. People in the middle of the disaster aren’t going to be able to communicate and organize effectively. Help on a large scale pretty much must come from outside the disaster zone.

Ron_C's avatar

For those of you that think that the state should run their own emergency organizations consider Louisiana and New York and New Jersey.

The entire state of Louisiana was devastated by the effects of Katrina. Additionally, the major part of their National Guard was deployed in the middle east.

During Sandy FEMA studied the storm, and jumped into what they identified as potential trouble spots. This was something that neither New York, New Jersey, or Louisiana had resources to combat. The purpose of the federal government is to aid the stated with projects that are just too big for any one state. This time FEMA worked beautifully. That’s the difference when you pick the right people to lead the organization and have a president that knows how to lead and delegate. Romney by his own admission doesn’t believe that the federal government should be coming to the aid of the states Why would anyone, even the ultra-rich want someone as narrow minded and self-centered as Romney and Ryan?

JLeslie's avatar

FEMA had worked well in FL even around the time of Katrina. The governor of the state has to ask for help. Before the hurricanes in FL, and other states, they put in, submit, for help from the federal government before the storm. Help is moved down near the areas that will be hit, but still outside of harms way. Not only national guard, but also utility companies from other parts of the state and other states. As soon as the sustained winds go down below 40 MPH help starts moving in to affected areas. The President, having been asked to give aide in several counties by the governor then decides after the storm which counties he will declare disaster areas. The governors ask for any county that possibly might be affected according to the weather reports, basically overasks just in case before the storm, so the only thing left is for the President to give the reply for what areas will be responded to. This helps eliminate worry about communications down during and after the storm. The governor of Lousiana did not put in her request before the storm, nor for a few days after. Bush asked her if she wanted help, she declined.

flutherother's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t think that is true. Governor Blanco of Louisiana asked for Federal help on 27 August and President Bush authorised it later that day two days before Hurricane Katrina struck.

JLeslie's avatar

@flutherother I just read several links regarding the topic and I have to say I am more confused than ever. I had thought what I said was true. I even saw Bush doing interviews about the book he wrote saying he regretted his actions during tye hurricane, but still saying he needed to be asked to go in. I just read during hearings the Governor of LA preseted documents showing her request for the fed to help before the hurricane hit. ?????? I’m quite confused and unsure now what actually did happen. I’m glad you said something, because it made me fact check a little more.

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