TRUE DEMOCRACY SUMMER 2001 TABLE OF CONTENTS
Federal Emergency Management Agency
From its Web site:
History of the Federal Emergency Management Agency
The Federal Emergency Management Agency - an independent agency reporting
to the President and tasked with responding to, planning for, recovering
from and mitigating against disaster - can trace its beginnings to the Congressional
Act of 1803. This act, generally considered the first piece of disaster legislation,
provided assistance to a New Hampshire town following an extensive fire.
In the century that followed, ad hoc legislation was passed more than 100
times in response to hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters.
By the 1930s, when the federal approach to problems became popular, the
Reconstruction Finance Corporation was given authority to make disaster loans
for repair and reconstruction of certain public facilities following an earthquake,
and later, other types of disasters. In 1934, the Bureau of Public Roads
was given authority to provide funding for highways and bridges damaged by
natural disasters. The Flood Control Act, which gave the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers greater authority to implement flood control projects, was also
passed. This piecemeal approach to disaster assistance was problematic and
it prompted legislation that required greater cooperation between federal
agencies and authorized the President to coordinate these activities.
The 1960s and early 1970s brought massive disasters requiring major federal
response and recovery operations by the Federal Disaster Assistance Administration,
established within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Hurricane Carla struck in 1962, Hurricane Betsy in 1965, Hurricane Camille
in 1969 and Hurricane Agnes in 1972. The Alaskan Earthquake hit in 1964 and
the San Fernando Earthquake rocked Southern California in 1971. These events
served to focus attention on the issue of natural disasters and brought about
increased legislation. In 1968, the National Flood Insurance Act offered
new flood protection to homeowners, and in 1974 the Disaster Relief Act firmly
established the process of Presidential disaster declarations.
However, emergency and disaster activities were still fragmented. When hazards
associated with nuclear power plants and the transportation of hazardous
substances were added to natural disasters, more than 100 federal agencies
were involved in some aspect of disasters, hazards and emergencies. Many
parallel programs and policies existed at the state and local level, compounding
the complexity of federal disaster relief efforts. The National Governor's
Association sought to decrease the many agencies with whom state and local
governments were forced work. They asked President Jimmy Carter to centralize
federal emergency functions.
President Carter's 1979 executive order merged many of the separate disaster-related
responsibilities into a new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Among
other agencies, FEMA absorbed: the Federal Insurance Administration, the
National Fire Prevention and Control Administration, the National Weather
Service Community Preparedness Program, the Federal Preparedness Agency of
the General Services Administration and the Federal Disaster Assistance Administration
activities from HUD. Civil defense responsibilities were also transferred
to the new agency from the Defense Department's Defense Civil Preparedness
John Macy was named as FEMA's first director. Macy emphasized the similarities
between natural hazards preparedness and the civil defense activities. FEMA
began development of an Integrated Emergency Management System with an all-hazards
approach that included "direction, control and warning systems which are
common to the full range of emergencies from small isolated events to the
ultimate emergency - war."
The new agency was faced with many unusual challenges in its first few years
that emphasized how complex emergency management can be. Early disasters
and emergencies included the contamination of Love Canal, the Cuban refugee
crisis and the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. Later,
the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992 focused major
national attention on FEMA. In 1993, President Clinton nominated James L.
Witt as the new FEMA director. Witt became the first agency director with
experience as a state emergency manager. He initiated sweeping reforms that
streamlined disaster relief and recovery operations, insisted on a new emphasis
regarding preparedness and mitigation, and focused agency employees on customer
service. The end of the Cold War also allowed Witt to redirect more of FEMA's
limited resources from civil defense into disaster relief, recovery and mitigation
Witt's plans were put to the test by the Great Midwest Flood of 1993 and
California's massive Northridge Earthquake in January,1994. The agency's
transformation was recognized as an integral part of the Clinton Administration's
efforts to reinvent government and in 1995 President Clinton recognized the
agency's accomplishments in his State of the Union address.
Today, FEMA - a 2,500-person agency supplemented by over 5,000 stand-by
disaster reservists - has a mission to provide leadership and support, reduce
the loss of life and property, and protect the nation from all types of hazards.
FEMA provides preparedness and response and recovery support to the nation
and, through Project Impact, provides leadership in preventing and reducing
risk before disaster strikes. Initiated in October 1997, Project Impact focuses
on creating disaster-resistant communities in all 50 states, Washington,
D.C., and Puerto Rico. By taking action before disaster strikes, FEMA hopes
to reduce the amount of federal money spent on picking up the pieces after
a disaster - and hopes to reduce the risks for property loss and loss of
life that every state faces.
Updated: May 28, 1999
[Ed's note: This is the public image of FEMA; we all know what the reality
is from the work of Dr. Boylan in his description of The Shadow Government.
Bush puts FEMA in Charge of
Domestic Terrorism Response
by James Gerstenzang
Los Angeles Times Staff Reporter
May 9, 2001
Permission could not be granted to reprint this article but the Los Angeles
Times Editorial staff person stated that I could make you aware of the story
and direct you to their archives where you can read it there. Go to http://www.latimes.com;
click on Archives which is at the top of the main page. Type in "homeland
defense" and press enter. You will see the very beginning of the article.
The only problem is that you will have to pay to read the entire article.
I don't know if you would be willing to do that and I don't know if you even
need to read the entire article because we all know that terrorism is initiated
by the U.S. government. If you don't know that, you do now.