What a Difference Seven Years Make

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the initial response by FEMA left a lot to be desired. Fast forward to 2012 and Hurricane Sandy. The response this time has been faster and everyone from government officials to state citizens have praised FEMA’s performance overall. But as recovery efforts continue, FEMA’s final grade for disaster assistance and recovery after Hurricane Sandy stands in the balance.

What exactly did the agency do differently this time compared to past storms? The big difference was the organization’s proactive approach to disaster preparedness. According to FEMA’s current administrator, W. Craig Fugate, who is the former head of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, getting ahead of a storm was critical to preparedness and response. He aptly pointed out that if resources are put in place before disaster strikes, national, state, and local officials can get ahead of any potential crises before they happen.

This strategy has seemed to work with the most recent disaster to strike America’s shores. These plans are in addition to the President’s calls to cut through the bureaucracy and red tape. The agency’s response has thus far been praised — a far cry from the years following Hurricane Katrina. FEMA’s recent disaster response success is an example of the government and the agencies it funds learning from past mistakes and actually putting those lessons learned into action.

Senator Joseph Lieberman, chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, helped spur the post-Katrina changes within the FEMA organization. So, where does the organization go from here? It would seem that the organization’s primary role in a disaster includes coordinating between various state and local agencies in addition to other federal agencies. The most important function that FEMA serves is sending aid where it needs to be, in the hands of the victims of a natural disaster.

For more information about FEMA’s response to Hurricane Sandy, visit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/decision2012/officials-and-experts-praising-fema-for-its-response-to-hurricane-sandy/2012/11/01/7a6629d8-2447-11e2-ac85-e669876c6a24_story.html
and
http://www.kqed.org/news/story/2012/11/03/110586/lessons_from_katrina_boost_femas_sandy_response?source=npr&category=u.s.