FEMA reports rescinded after whitewashing discovered

Posted by  $  blarman 3 weeks, 6 days ago to Government
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I work with our local emergency response teams and I can tell you a real after-action report is never "glowing". There are always myriad issues which have to be worked out for the next time. I was involved in the Cascadia Rising simulation last summer and just on the communications front alone there were huge problems. Of the three states involved, ours was the only one who still had reliable long-distance communications up and running after day one when the power went out (simulated). Why? Because someone had decided that millions of dollars worth of high-tech communications vans and disaster response equipment should be parked out near the ocean in Seattle. What was the scenario? A massive earthquake-triggered tsunami. Seattle and Portland were both just gone following the event - along with the FEMA regional headquarters.

Any report which says that a Federal agency response was better than a "C" grade is lying. Local government response is typically well put together because they get lots of practice. Federal government response? Not so much.
SOURCE URL: https://www.dailysignal.com/2019/06/24/retraction-of-13-glowing-disaster-reports-throws-light-on-dysfunction-of-bureaucracy/


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  • Posted by  $  25n56il4 3 weeks, 4 days ago
    In times past, the American Red Cross would come in and write vouchers for those needing immediate cash in a disaster. Now we have FEMA to do nothing!
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  • Posted by  $  exceller 3 weeks, 4 days ago
    That is not surprising at all.

    Simulations like this are put on the books by bureaucrats to CYA. Everyone is fully aware that in case of the real event it is useless.


    Think about earthquakes, for example. When an 7.0+ hits, there is nothing you can do but wait it out. No matter how many times you ran simulations in the office.
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    • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 4 days ago
      Having been involved, I will disagree that the simulations are CYA. People are honestly trying to simulate and play through what a disaster would be like (as best they can simulate) and the focus is not on the disaster, but the response. The purpose of the simulations are to try to identify what major problems were encountered during the simulated response and develop plans to try to mitigate them. Most are just communication problems - how do we get the right information to the right people.

      Also, though the Cascadia Rising simulation was a regional exercise simulating a major disaster, most local governments (counties, etc.) actually do a pretty good job of managing and responding to issues. The NIMS framework actually scales fairly well for issues ranging from traffic stops to parade security to bigger issues like flooding, et al. The place where I see things tend to fall apart is where the Feds start to get involved (shocking I know). But then again I live in a very conservative State where the people in public service are generally good people who want to do the right thing. Some of the other members of our team (radio people) have come from other areas of the nation (Florida, California, Oregon) and have different stories to tell...
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      • Posted by  $  exceller 3 weeks, 3 days ago
        I am not doubting your words, Blair.

        But as you said, things fall apart when the feds get involved. I was referring to gov sponsored operations. It would be good if these exercises were useful in preparing for bed times but it is not always true.
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        • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 3 days ago
          All disaster responses are "government sponsored". ;)

          My point was that my experience has been that local administration is far more focused and effective than federal administration. But then again, the local response teams are limited in size and used to working with each other. The downside is that they can only deal with problems up to a certain level of disaster (usually a 3 out of five on the official scale and even then they are applying for Federal FEMA funds...). The problems with responding to a disaster get exponentially more complicated as you move up the levels because you are involving that many more people, jurisdictions, and moving parts, and the extent of the emergency is that much broader. While I'd love to be able to say that it's just government inefficiency/incompetency, the reality is that things have dramatically improved since the 60's and the fires in California which first prompted the instigation of FEMA. Is there a long ways to go? Sure, but it takes exactly the kind of disasters we don't want in the first place to get there. It's a nice rock-meet-hard-place conundrum.

          Now one area where things can certainly get dicey and give the entire system a bad taste is a result of being overseen by politicians. And of course the bigger the disaster the larger the PR "opportunity" for self-serving politicians to come in and mess things up. It's all nice for a State Governor to be briefed about flooding, but if they decide to start taking the reins the whole thing turns into a political disaster on top of the real disaster. That's where you get things like New Orleans and people die.
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