FEMA Takes A Look Back

March 31, 2006
Reported by Vince Atkinson

Post Hurricane Rita, Louisiana has had more than its share of troubles over the past few months. FEMA was charged with the task of helping the state get back on its feet, but that challenge has caused more than a little controversy. What went wrong, and what's going right in the hurricane recovery process? Those are questions people have been asking for months about FEMA, but getting a straight answer has not been very easy. Friday, 7 News had the rare opportunity to speak with the man who holds the answers we have all been looking for.

Katrina and Rita, two hurricanes that will go down in the history books for causing much pain and suffering. The two storms did more than just rip the roofs off of homes and businesses, they also stripped the polish off of FEMA's public image. Finding someone to speak openly about these issues has not been easy, until now. FEMA Deputy Director of Gulf Coast Recovery Gil Jamieson is not shy when it comes to talking about the tough issues. Jamieson said, "I am much chagrined with some of the policy decisions that are being made in Washington. They don't have the full prospective of how they play out on the local level."

Jamieson says he hopes to correct the problems, and he wants to do it fast, even before the 2006 hurricane season begins. Jamieson said, "I am doing my best to bring back that local prospective, those operational prospectives so that we can cut through that red tape."

FEMA, along with the rest of us, learned some hard lessons this past hurricane season. In the wake of two major storms, many plans worked, others were disastrous. Now, FEMA workers say they do not plan to make the same mistakes twice. Jamieson said, "We are not leaving this to the lawyers to decide what to do in terms of shelter, or what we should do in terms of a temporary housing policy. Get as many of those decisions pre-made as we can."

It may not be long before we all get to see how effective the new policies and procedures truly are. Unfortunately, hurricane season starts in just about two months.