FEMA: Disaster Relief or Disaster, Period

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Disaster Research Center
After Hurricane Andrew hit the mainland of the U.S., the eye hovered over the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA became a convenient target for criticism. In addition to the national media coverage of the storm, local stations from across the country armed with new technology did their own “damage assessment” and neophyte reporters sought out delay and inefficiency. Accusation of inattention and incompetence in the early days after impact were constantly contrasted with the mobilization of last year’s “disaster,” Desert Storm. That contrast suggested FEMA should have been there involved in rescue, providing hot meals and issuing checks for damaged roofs. Of course, a major disaster in a political year engenders controversy. When the Emergency Manager in Dade County, Kate Hale asked the question on TV on the evening of the day after impact “Where’s the calvary?”, the blame was placed on Washington. Soon after, President Bush appointed Secretary of Transporation Carr to “coordinate” the Federal response. All of these media impressions and conflicting images made it difficult to understand “what should have happened” after Andrew.
FEMA, Federal Emergency Management Agency, disaster relief