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  • DHS Inspector General Echoes Four Years of Heritage Research

    With the recent devastation in Japan, the paragon of earthquake preparedness, Americans are rightfully questioning the readiness of the United States to handle a large-scale national disaster. In spite of the supposed progress the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has made since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there is wide spread doubt that FEMA could respond effectively and efficiently to a crisis of Japan-like magnitude.

    In a recent report, Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Richard L. Skinner echoes The Heritage Foundation in his assessment of FEMA’s ability to handle to national catastrophe. He states the following: “As more disasters are declared and disasters stay open for longer periods of time, more FEMA staff resources are diverted from planning and preparedness efforts.” This statement is essentially on target with The Heritage Foundation’s past analysis (see a more complete list below).

    With the increased presidential declarations of disasters in recent years, FEMA’s finite resources are stretched in such a way that the United States is not adequately prepared to handle another Katrina or a Japan. When federal funds are continually diverted to aid areas hit by routine natural disasters, fewer resources are available both for planning large-scale disaster responses and for executing the plans should a national catastrophe occur.

    Although the trend in the last 20 years has been the increased federalization of emergency management with President Barack Obama declaring more major disaster declarations in the first two years of his presidency than any other President at the two year mark, Mr. Skinner’s statement provides a glimmer of hope of the return to federalism in our country’s emergency response system.

    Regardless of where you sit, almost everyone wants an emergency response system that can take action immediately to mitigate the life-altering effects of a national catastrophe. There is little question that we need to be ready when disasters strike because they, unfortunately, inevitably will from time to time. If our current President and future Presidents want to truly be prepared, they will reserve the use FEMA for its original purpose and return the responsibility of routine disasters back to the states.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to DHS Inspector General Echoes Four Years of Heritage Research

    1. West Texan says:

      Matt said " … Mr. Skinner’s statement provides a glimmer of hope of the return to federalism in our country’s emergency response system."

      A thousand thanks! It's so refreshing to hear of a federal official applying good sense.

    2. Pingback: DHS Inspector General Echoes Four Years of Heritage Research | Big Propaganda

    3. George Colgrove VA says:

      "If our current President and future Presidents want to truly be prepared, they will reserve the use FEMA for its original purpose and return the responsibility of routine disasters back to the states."

      I do not see why the whole shebang cannot be handled by the states. Why have overpaid federal officials setting idle for up to a decade for the big event, while states are actively handling events every day. We want skill and practice every day – but we also need people fully aware of the limitations, the dangers and the terrain of the disaster site to be at the top most effectiveness. I cannot see some stuffed shirts in DC being that. FEMA has cost this country dearly in cost, and ineffective leadership.

      We need to rewrite FEMA legislation to completely remove the agency and restore the total emergency response back to the states. We have a National Guard system that has worked more effectively than any other recovery team known to man. These people work in our communities in productive private sector jobs and are only called upon when in need. The new emergency response law should also set up a framework where interstate disasters will be lead by a task force that is created ONLY for that disaster and upon the completion of the combined response; the states will regain their individual responses until the disaster has abated. The new law should also legislate that these operations are dealt with an open door policy (or 100% transparency). Emergency response does not need secrecy as people have the right to know what is going on.

      By having the states in charge, each state can, with its own creativity, come up with their own individual solutions for responding to emergencies. This competition of ideas will make emergency response inexpensive and more effective than having such solutions promoted by a corruptible federal workforce that acts in secrecy and who gets kickbacks from contractors as well as having solutions forced on them by a corruptible congress who are supporting companies who feed them huge campaign contributions. The District of Columbia is corrupt, it is heavy laden with overpaid federal workers and I believe the institutions there no longer represents the people.

      If anything the federal government has taught us is that governments cannot be trusted and need civilian (citizen) oversight.

    4. Thomas James, US VIr says:

      The one fly in this ointment is that in responding to less-than-catastrophic events, the FEMA personnel (DAEs especially) are able to keep up their skills and training so when the Big One hits they are ready to act. It is, of course, expensive and in some cases comically overreactive: the disaster declarations to offset the costs of last winter's snowstorms in the Northeast are downright laughable. But sometimes, in for examples the cases involving flooding in Illinois and the other prairie states last fall, what seems non-catastrophic is still immensely hurtful. FEMA spent about $300 million in Illinois alone in response to the flooding, so it was no small potatoes. That the lion's share of this money went to Cook County is, um, not surprising. The bar to qualify for FEMA intervention absolutely must be raised much higher, but to have Congress decide that the nature of the disaster be considered won't help much.

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