As hurricane season nears its zenith, its time to take a gander at the rise and fall of the department of the federal government with which two groups of Americans have a long-standing love-hate relationship—those who have an up close and personal relationship with the agency and those of us for whom this agency is a bell-weather of how well America comes to the rescue of its beleaguered citizens in emergencies.
The agency is FEMA and a short romp through its ups and downs couldn’t come at a better time as we face the fall-out from Harvey and Irma. Listed below are several quotes emanating from various natural disasters in which FEMA was involved. Can you answer the question which follow the quotes? How would you grade FEMA’s performance on these occasions?
- ⇒“The sorriest bunch of jackasses I’ve ever known” Who said it? After which disaster? When?
- ⇒“FEMA could screw up a two-car parade.” Who said it? After which disaster? When?
- ⇒“Where the hell is the cavalry on this one… For God’s sake where are they?” What happened here? What was the hold-up? When?
- ⇒“Turkey farm” Which agency had that nickname? When? Why?
- ⇒“He was a cowboy but with no cattle” Who was that said about? Who said it? Which disaster?
- ⇒“South Carolina Senator Fritz Hollings referring to FEMA’s non-performance after his state was hammered by Hurricane Hugo in 1988.
- ⇒“San Francisco Representative Norman Mineta’s description of FEMA’s competence after it screwed up its response to the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco on 10/17/ 1989.
- ⇒“In 1992 after Hurricane Andrew roared into Florida, FEMA waited 3 long days to provide aid on the grounds that Florida officials had not filled out the correct paperwork. Dade County’s Head of Emergency Preparedness, at the end of his rope, uttered those words at a press conference when it was clear that no help from FEMA was forthcoming.
- ⇒“FEMA’s response to 2005 Hurricane Katrina was considered a high-water mark in governmental incompetence. It became FEMA’s nickname among government bureaucrats in other agencies.
- General Russell Honore who was forced to bring troops into New Orleans to undertake rescue and recovery operations after FEMA’s stumbling, bumbling performance. Gen. Honore was describing the woefully unprepared FEMA chief, Michael Brown. Brown a one-time horse breeder with no emergency management experience, was the target of an enraged public over the inability of FEMA to help the residents of New Orleans. He was hounded out of office 10 days after President George W. Bush praised him in a never-to-be-forgotten sound bite — “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job”
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