FEMA At Fault For Seismic Office Move

JAN. 12, 2011


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants to move its regional headquarters to Sacramento from Oakland, where its current office is near the Hayward Fault, an area FEMA  bosses consider dangerous.

“It’s a safety issue,” John Hamill, FEMA’s regional director of external affairs, told the Sacramento Bee. “We can’t be in a position where our response is affected by a major earthquake along the fault, which we all know is coming at some point.”

Mr. Hamill did not address why FEMA had selected the dangerous Hayward Fault location in the first place. The agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, drew widespread criticism for its lethargic response to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005.

“The inept response of the Federal Emergency Management Agency,” said USA Today, was “not only a human tragedy but also an international embarrassment for the USA.”

While FEMA bungled, the retailer Wal-Mart became “a model for logistical efficiency and nimble disaster planning,” according to the Washington Post. Their story noted that Wal-Mart provided an unrivaled $20 million in cash donations, 1,500 truckloads of free merchandise, and food for 100,000 meals.

Katrina called attention to Sacramento, a low-lying city downstream from major dams and protected by old levees. FEMA’s attention to the California Capitol did not result in widespread rebuilding of levees or dams, but some area homeowners who had previously not been required to purchase flood insurance are now required to do so.

The bills for this flood insurance are now routed through FEMA, which instructs homeowners to retain part of the form for their records and also to send in the same form with payment. A Sacramento insurance agency says the flood insurance mandate, and the contradictory forms, have touched off many complaints.

FEMA is not alone in selecting a dangerous location. The Ewa Beach, Hawaii, headquarters of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is an “inundation zone,” according to Hawaii News Now.

The federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in charge of the Center, proposed Ford Island. That prompted tsunami researcher Barry Hirshorn to request a better site “above sea level.”

FEMA’s move to Sacramento is expected sometime in 2012. Another federal agency, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), is conducting the search for facilities.

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  1. John Seiler
    John Seiler 13 January, 2011, 13:47

    FEMA is an unconstitutional agency that ought to be abolished. Watch Jesse Ventura’s program, which has been censored by his network, on the FEMA concentration camps:


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