Saturday, September 10, 2005

You Can't Lead Disaster Recovery If You Have Not Led Disaster Recovery

Bobby Jindal Republican Congressman from Louisiana had a good article in the Journal on hurricane Katrina:

Jindal on Katrina

His opening statement is what I think the message and mission needs to be from the Administration, as well as all others who are truly interested in fixing the problem rather than rolling in the political mud:

Over the past few days, America has been both moved and disturbed by television footage of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. But for those of us in Louisiana still struggling to cope, the troubling images are of opportunistic politicians playing the blame game while there is so much real work to do.

The theme of the article is to find a way to get rid of the "red tape" that hand-cuffed the disaster recovery efforts at all levels:

Rather than point fingers, we should be fixing the situation on the ground. And that will include taking steps to ensure that red tape doesn't stifle the continued security and rebuilding efforts. There have already been a number of instances in which an overly inhibitive bureaucracy prevented an appropriate response to the disaster.

Bigger was not better, we saw that last week. FEMA has to have a relationship with Homeland Defense, but Homeland needs to focus on prevention and FEMA needs to be independent and responsible for reacting to the disaster itself. The likely hood as it stands now is that we will have more hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and other natural disaster at a higher level than terrorist attacks. FEMA should be able to respond to both and has to be able to respond to both, but if they tilt one way or the other, I think they should tilt towards natural disasters.

What we need is a smaller independent organization, that has a highly experienced leadership dealing with natural disasters. The leaders have to be the best of the best disaster recovery personnel from the local & state ranks and the military ranks. Such a resume should be required from lower level management to the very top. In Washington, both Republican and Democrats like to have political insiders in control of these types of organization, but that's the wrong model. From the leaders on the ground right now in the Gulf Region, those who prove themselves the best, the performances that rise above all others, should be the new leaders of FEMA.

I hope that the debate will move from political got-ya to solutions. The democrats will continue to play the political angle we all know that because that is what politicians do. There will be no 911 unity on this one from the democrats or the MSM. However, when the political mileage has run low or out, for the sake of the next disaster victims, lets hope that everyone gets together and really fixes the problems that both democrats and republicans thought they fixed after 911. They did not fix it and its pretty much now or never to get it right. We have to fix the local, state and federal issues that broke down. The emotion will be strong from the American people that they we fix it and get it right, so the political highway for the blame game might have a much shorter life than some think.

If I was Bush I'd appoint Mr. Jindal to oversee the committee ( god doesn't everyone hate what that means regardless of political stripe ) and have him make FEMA independent, leaner and responsive, and full of qualified leaders and doers from top to bottom.

When you have a leak in your house you call a plumber. When you need legal representation you call someone who has litigated. When you need someone to respond and help in a natural disaster you get someone who has the best track record of responding to disasters and is qualified from being on the ground to being in the top executive chair.

Bush did the right thing removing Brown from the sight, next he should find the person on the ground to replace Brown in Washington and lots of other people in FEMA. New Orleans & Louisiana should begin the same process................