• United States



by Dave Gradijan

Changes Swirling at FEMA Before Storm Season

Apr 12, 20062 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Americans were told they need to be prepared to take care of themselves—especially in the first few days after a major storm—as U.S. emergency officials unveiled their revamped disaster-relief plans, Reuters reports.

As the official hurricane season looms on June 1—and harsh memories of Hurricane Katrina, which killed about 1,300 people and inflicted some $80 billion in damage, still draws criticism—skeptics question whether the changes made at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have left the country any better prepared for an emergency, according to Reuters.

Addressing emergency managers at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando,Fla., acting FEMA Director David Paulison said Americans will need to take “personal responsibility” for disaster planning, Reuters reports.

“I believe it is a civic responsibility for Americans to prepare themselves to take care of their families for the first 72 hours,” said Paulison, according to Reuters.

Paulison, named acting director after the resignation of Michael Brown in the wake of FEMA’s heavily criticized Katrina response, is awaiting confirmation from Congress to take the job permanently, Reuters reports.

Several improvements were outlined. Disaster planners are expected this year to be stationed in coastal states, communications networks are getting upgraded, and supplies are being restocked, Reuters reports. FEMA is also reportedly planning to use GPS to track supplies.

However, some critics said they believe the problems with disaster planning still haven’t been remedied, according to Reuters. Some of that criticism stems from the incorporation of FEMA into the Department of Homeland Security, which skeptics say was a bad move, Reuters reports.

“FEMA lost their expertise, their ability to help local governments,” said John Murray, emergency management director with the Corpus Christi Fire Department in Texas, according to Reuters.

For related content, read The Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

For related news coverage, read Bush Nominates Paulison to Be FEMA Chief.

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