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(Fema) Levels Of Planning

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Crisis Management on Transportation Research Paper

FEMA: Levels of Planning

In the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been under fire. Why did so much go wrong? Why were we were so unprepared? It appears that first-rate contingency planning was not in place. Contingency planning is essential in every organization, above all one that deals with environments that are so volatile. Without having concrete contingency plans in position and the people indispensable to operate them, FEMA will not be able to effectively counter to any national emergency.

FEMA is a disaster relief fund that is available to the people. Their mission is to provide assistance for any kind of disaster that may occur (i.e. fire, flood, Hurricane etc.). When hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the gulf coast, people all over the world were questioning where and when FEMA was going to aid the people of these cities. This incident alone has made us want to evaluate the effectiveness of contingency planning in this government agency. This information will give more imminent insight as to what the importance of improving or re-evaluating the government's mission is for this relief agency by evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and trends that have an integral affect on how and when FEMA provides relief for the disasters that transpire.

FEMA offers many services to people all around the world for disaster relief. Their motto is "helping people before during and after disasters". (FEMA, 2005, First Responder) In order to implement the services they offer guides such as the "State and Local Guide (SLG) 101".(FEMA, 2005, First Responder) This guide helps states and towns in their individual planning in the event of an emergency and offers people "FEMA's best judgment and recommendations on how to control their planning process"(FEMA, 2005, First Responder). It is offered through the FEMA website for easy access.

There are many Hazmat risks in the world today, so FEMA has urbanized "Comprehensive Hazmat Emergency Response-Capability Assessment Program (CHER-CAP)" (FEMA, 2005, First Responder) for local communities and Tribal governments. This program is intended to "identify planning deficiencies, update plans, train first responders and classify systemic strengths and needed improvements' (FEMA, 2005, First Responder) in the event of any Hazmat incident.

Other types of first responder plans in place today would be the "Federal Response Plan and the CONPLAN Ð'- Federal Interagency Domestic Terrorism Concept of Operations Plan". (FEMA, 2005, First Responder) The first of the above mentioned plans is an agreement between 27 federal agencies and the American Red Cross in order to grant assistance and certain resources to any state that has been devastated by a major disaster. The CONPLAN is a guidance plan for local, federal or state agencies apprehensive about any terrorist's threats and how the federal government will aid them.

Another standard strength that FEMA has is called the "InterAgency Board (IAB) for Equipment Standardization and InterOperability". (FEMA, 2005, First Responder) This is a website that FEMA offers for "coordination of local, state, and federal standardization, interoperability, and responder safety to prepare for, respond to, mitigate, and recover from any incident" (FEMA, 2005, First Responder) that may need the equipment resources for " Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or Explosives". (FEMA, 2005, First Responder)

Training courses are also a major part of what FEMA can adjoin to its strengths. They offer training in Emergency Management, Terrorism Planning, Emergency Responders, Emergency in State, Local and Government, Weapons of Mass destruction and also courses such as Incident Command Systems. These are always obtainable for any federal, state or local agency that would require training. (FEMA, 2005, First Responder)

Public Assistance is an additional program in which FEMA offers "disaster aid to repair, replace, or supplement parts of a community's infrastructure."(FEMA, 2005, Public Assistance) They distribute special loans and grants to communities in which have had catastrophic disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and earthquakes to help the communities involved and begin the revitalization process.

In analyzing the limitations of FEMA, it is evident the prevalent obstacle to overcome is red tape. FEMA currently operates under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS is a vast agency that was originally envisioned to be the command center in time of national emergency. Instead, the recent hurricanes have exposed a bureaucracy powerless in handling the number of requests coming in (Ornstein, N., 2005, Ð'¶ 7). There is some debate over whether FEMA should prolong operating under the DHS or return to operating as an independent agency (Preston, M., 2005, Ð'¶ 15). Senator Reid (D-Nev) feels that "FEMA has become a toothless tiger" (Preston, M., 2005, Ð'¶ 15). By returning FEMA to an independent agency, Reid feels that more of the red tape would be eliminated, decreasing response time.

A second weakness of FEMA is people, or the lack thereof. FEMA's regional offices have been under a hiring freeze since the agency was moved under the direction of the DHS (Kitfield, J., 2005, Ð'¶ 38). The chief FEMA in representative in new Orleans, Scott Wells, admitted that he did not have the staff in place to deal with hurricane Katrina, and because there was no place to board additional staff, headquarters would not send additional support staff. Because the regional office was understaffed, they did not have the resources to filter volunteers. Donna Young discusses the shortfall of pharmacists in the disaster areas, even though hundreds were registered with various volunteer groups (2005, p2321-2322).

The last weakness that will be discussed is funding. Senator Warren Rudman (R-N.H.), indicates that "the federal government has allocated about only a fifth of the recommended $100 billion extra over five years for homeland security" (Kondracke, 2005, Ð'¶ 10). Fund distribution needs to be closely assessed so that they are not misallocated. Evaluation of risk is necessary before fund disbursement in order to prioritize where funds are required.

There are many employment opportunities with FEMA especially in this time of need and it also gives one the ability to help make a difference in someone's life. FEMA offers what they call "Disaster Assistance Employees (DAE's)" FEMA, 2005, Environment & Historic), these

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