FEMA: A Disastrous Response to Hugo

Issue 12 and Volume 142.

FEMA: A Disastrous Response to Hugo CONGRESSIONAL CLIPBOARD THERE’S A JOKE going around Washington that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is in violation of truth in advertising laws. “Management” implies, and in fact requires, leadership and coordination, neither of which was evident in FEMA’s response to Hurricane Hugo. In answer to choruses of criticism from residents and their representatives, FEMA’s defense was that the needed services were not “requested” through the proper channels, that FEMA’s role was a tertiary one after state and local governments, and that Hugo was a particularly brutal hurricane. Besides the feet that emergency management is not an over-thecounter commodity that one should have to ask for, FEMA’s response belied an inability to deal with any disaster serious enough to require federal assistance. Looking at what FEMA was able to offer South Carolina in the wake of Hugo makes one wonder what it does with its…

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