2.3 Million Unanswered Calls To FEMA

Photo: Joe Rondone, USA Today Network Florida

Just as Congress finally passed a $19B disaster relief law last week, then this news from Congress’ investigatory arm — The General Accounting Office — which issued a report stating, according to E&E News,that the Federal Emergency Management Agency “failed to answer 2.3 million phone calls to its disaster assistance helpline during an eight-week period in 2017 when Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria struck and caused thousands of deaths.”

But That’s Not All: The report has great timing — just as we head into wildfire and hurricane season, and while FEMA still has no permanent AdministratorFEMA was also accused earlier this year of mishandling highly sensitive personal data belonging to 2.3 million people who needed hotel lodging in 2017 as a result of the disasters that year. To make matters worse, yesterday during a hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee, acting FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor revealed that his agency is “short a few thousand employees” just as hurricane season is beginning in the Atlantic.

Where Do We Go From Here?: FEMA had to admit it messed up big time on the data breach but the public needs to know what the agency will do to prevent breaches like this in the future. There are a lot of questions FEMA has to answer so that Americans can feel confident that they will be protected after natural disasters strike, today’s hearing didn’t provide many answers. Chris Currie, who directs the Homeland Security and Justice Division for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) suggested that FEMA perform a gap analysis to begin restoring public trust and better understanding its own practices.

Why This Matters: FEMA’s mission is to help Americans before, during, and after natural disasters and currently the agency is at a diminished capacity to offer that help. Climate change is making natural disasters worse and more frequent and the people who will bear the brunt of storms and fires are already the most vulnerable members of our society. Groups like the poor and the elderly will need FEMA’s help the most and their calls for that help may go unanswered. 

 

 

 

Up Next

NOAA Predicts It’s Going To Be An Active Hurricane Season

NOAA Predicts It’s Going To Be An Active Hurricane Season

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) is forecasting a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms, of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes and 3 to 6 become major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher. The forecast is due to cooler ocean conditions in the Pacific and warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Why This Matters:  It could be a disastrous summer. The new climate normal on top of the COVID-19 pandemic will make things challenging everywhere.

Continue Reading 515 words

Mass Evacuations in Michigan After Dams Collapse

After suffering record-breaking heavy rains, the Central Michigan city of Midland experienced a catastrophic 2-dam collapse along the Tittabawassee River yesterday evening. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency and expressed that “In the next 12 to 15 hours, downtown Midland could be under approximately nine feet of water.” Whitmer also urged people […]

Continue Reading 213 words
Researchers Confirm that Climate Change is Making Hurricanes Stronger

Researchers Confirm that Climate Change is Making Hurricanes Stronger

An important new study out this week from researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Wisconsin at Madison reveals that hurricanes are getting stronger, just as climate models have predicted. As the New York Times explained, the analysis, of satellite images dating to 1979, shows that warming has increased the […]

Continue Reading 371 words