Disaster relief…

The federal government cannot summarily move into any state without an invitation!

Most folks do not understand that restriction arises from the Constitution itself. It’s called “state’s rights”. So, the governor or legislature of the state must request aid from the federal government before it can move forward in any disaster situation. The result is a built-in delay if the governor is slow to act.

We have never been a fan of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). In no other department is the sluggish response and lack of efficiency more evident that in FEMA. Other than, perhaps, the Department of Defense, does the federal government ever move swiftly and with dispatch? The bureaucratic make up of federal agencies is actually the government’s own worst enemy, there are just too many layers to move through to get any responsive decision.

Frankly, we believe a return to fully state run disaster responses such as that developed as “Civil Defense” mechanisms after World War Two would be much more rapid and efficient that FEMA can ever be. The cost to the federal budget could be much less, as well.

Consider for a moment, the efforts of the thousands of American Red Cross chapters across America. In the case of hurricane Sandy recently, the Red Cross had people and equipment staged nearby ready to move two full days before Sandy actually began ravaging the East Coast. People and equipment from the Mid-West and elsewhere were already organized and ready in the storm region. FEMA has never done that. FEMA was still attempting to open disaster relief “offices” four days after the storm moved far inland.

It seems to us, in fact, the American Red Cross and their fine organization would do a much better job compared to the federal bureaucracy. Further, the Red Cross would not have to “practice” on disaster after disaster to become proficient. The Red Cross already has the capable people and logistical solution decisions in place. They already know how to do the job, and they do it for far less money that the federal government could ever accomplish, given the size of the bureaucracy on the federal level.

So, why not re-establish state run disaster response? Perhaps contracting with the American Red Cross in each state would be better than the multi-layer FEMA. There would be no waiting for permission, each state would be ready and could move immediately. Cut the federal government out of it altogether, with the possible exception of large equipment. Frankly, if the federal government gave block grants to states to get the job done, they would apply so many rules and regulations over the money as to re-initiate unworkable systems. Just leave the tax revenues with the states in the first place.

Name for me one single federal agency that operates with such quickness and efficiency in disaster situations as the American Red Cross. You cannot.