While I don’t much care that Mike Brown resigned from FEMA – that’s been a forgone conclusion since he was recalled/relieved from New Orleans. What did interest me was who was appointed to replace him. David Paulison has over 30 years of experience in Fire/Rescue, including a stint as Chief of the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department.
His emergency management experience includes Hurricane Andrew and the crash of ValuJet Flight 592. He is also past president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
This departure from the normal Bush Administration policy of appointing friends and supporters to key roles, despite thier prior experience (or lack thereof) hints to me that ‘Brownie’s’ resignation was not entirely voluntary. I’d like to praise President Bush for appointing someone to the top slot at FEMA who has the experience to know how to get the job done.
That said, I want to be clear. In my mind, FEMA is far (far) from being solely culpable for the huge clusterfuck that followed Katrina. Agencies at every level were overwhelmed, undersupported, and generally lost amid chaos. That’s what disasters tend to do. What I do find hard to swallow, especially as credible news starts to mount, is that FEMA, along with Louisiana state officials, were unable to act quickly to pick up the slack. This event will become a textbook case of “how not to do it” for emergency managers for decades.