Administrative changes should prepare us for the next natural disaster.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Brown resigned Monday following criticism of his agency and the government’s handling of the Katrina disaster. This is a positive step towards addressing the failure to react to the emergency in New Orleans. But America must be careful that any administrative changes in the wake of this tragedy are targeting those truly responsible and not just scapegoats to absorb the public’s anger.
Certainly there was a tragic gap between the help we as a nation expected to receive and what we got. FEMA’s role in government is to be prepared when catastrophes like Katrina occur. National disasters don’t happen everyday, so it makes you wonder what they are doing with all that down time. Obviously they are not sitting around planning.
For this reason, Brown’s resignationwas definitely the right move. He did not have the agency in the position it needed to be to serve the country.
But what about Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff? What if New Orleans had been destroyed by a bomb instead of a hurricane? Obviously, we would still not have been ready. This highlights the same poor planning in the Department of Homeland Security.
So yes, FEMA is to blame for its lack of foresight and adequate response. But in a broader sense, so is Chertoff. We don’t need to think of this firing or any others as “heads rolling”. This is not about revenge. This is about making sure that we have the best possible people in management positions, and that they are ready next time.