Hurricane season begins in 12 days.
Great. I hope it is a quiet season. Hurricanes are a pain in the ass.
But at least there is a director of FEMA. Quietly, and without much fanfare - one David Vitter (R), a Senator from (of all places) Louisiana, sat down and shut the hell up.
Finally. Because he was holding up a very important appointment.
And there is some good news! This time around, the FEMA director is actually qualified. His name is Craig Fugate. Google it if you like. He knows emergency management. And I would know.
You see, Craig Fugate is from my home state. Florida.
Here is a sampling of what he has done to be qualified to head up FEMA.
He became a volunteer firefighter in high school, like his father and his uncle. Later attended Florida State Fire College.
After Florida State Fire College he worked as a firefighter, a paramedic (all firefighter are also paramedics - not all paramedics are fire fighters), and eventually made it all the way to the rank of lieutenant in the fire department.
He served for 10 years as Alachua County's chief of emergency management.
He served for 15 years as the assissitant director for the Florida Division Of Emergency Management.
From 2001 - very recently, he was the director of the Florida Division Of Emergency Management.
During this time (2001 - 2008) Florida had the following hurricanes:
Charley, Frances, Jeanne, Ivan, Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Charley was a major cat 4 storm by the way.
But hurricanes were not all that happened. There were also a bunch of major fires. Here is a fire map from summer 2007.
There were also floods, tornados, and all kinds of other fun things. Oh and by the way - the above fire map was drawn BEFORE the fires peaked in number and intensity.
Needless to say, the new FEMA director knows what a disaster looks like - and how to put a handle on the response.
I will not even bother to compare Craig Fugate, President Obama's first pick for FEMA - to Joe Allbaugh, the man appointed to head FEMA in 2001. What did Allbaugh's resume look like?
He worked for Oklahoma Senator Henry Bellmon in 1974. In 1984 he worked on the Reagan campaign. Then in 1986 he worked on Bellmon's staff for his successful run for Governor of Oklahoma. He later worked as deputy secretary of transportation in Oklahoma.
In 1994 he went to work for Bush, to manage his campaign for governor. He was then the chief of staff till 1999, when Bush ran for President. He worked on the Bush campaign - then in 2001 became the number 1 man in FEMA.
Not a shred of emergency management experience.
His number 2 was "Heck of a job" Michael Brown. The horse breeder with even less emergency management experience. Brown was brought into FEMA by Allbaugh as general counsel. A lawyer. Brown was good friends from way back with both Bush and Allbaugh - so he went from someone hired to give legal opinions to the number 2 for FEMA.
I feel a lot better knowing that FEMA is back in the hands of someone who knows emergency management. The current director did good for Florida, and I think he will do good for America.
Thank you Senator Vitter, for sitting down and shutting the fuck up - allowing a qualified person to take an appointment.