By R. Neal

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is mounting a massive response in the wake of Katrina's devastation:

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  • FEMA's emergency teams and resources are being deployed and configured for coordinated response to Hurricane Katrina. This includes pre-staging critical commodities such as ice, water, meals, and tarps in various strategic locations to be made available to residents of affected areas.
     
  • FEMA's Hurricane Liaison Team is onsite and working closely with the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla.
     
  • FEMA's National Response Coordination Center and Regional Response Coordination Centers in Atlanta, Ga., and Denton, Texas, are operating around the clock, coordinating the prepositioning of assets and responding to state requests for assistance.
     
  • FEMA has deployed a National Emergency Response Team to Louisiana with a coordination cell positioned at the State Emergency Operations Center in Baton Rouge to facilitate state requests for assistance. In addition, four Advance Emergency Response Teams have been deployed to locations in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The teams include federal liaisons who work directly within county emergency operations centers to respond to critical needs as they are identified by local officials and prioritized by the state.
     
  • Rapid Needs Assessment teams have been prestaged in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
     
  • Nine Urban Search and Rescue task forces and incident support teams have been deployed. The task forces are from Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, and Missouri.
     
  • Thirty-one teams from the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) have been deployed to staging areas in Anniston, Ala., Memphis, Tenn., Houston, Dallas, and New Orleans, including 23 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams. The teams bring truckloads of medical equipment and supplies with them and are trained to handle trauma, pediatrics, surgery and mental health problems. Two Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams are also included as part of NDMS assets deployed, which are able to support and rescue pets, and provide any needed veterinary medical care for rescue dogs.
     
  • Voluntary agencies, important partners in disasters, are prepared to augment local government services with shelters, mobile feeding units, water and clean-up supplies.
     
  • FEMA has 500 trucks of ice, 500 trucks of water and 350 trucks of meals ready to eat (MREs) available for distribution over the next 10 days.
And here's an interesting fact. FEMA was established by President Jimmy Carter in 1979:
When hazards associated with nuclear power plants and the transportation of hazardous substances were added to natural disasters, more than 100 federal agencies were involved in some aspect of disasters, hazards and emergencies. Many parallel programs and policies existed at the state and local level, compounding the complexity of federal disaster relief efforts. The National Governor's Association sought to decrease the many agencies with whom state and local governments were forced work. They asked President Jimmy Carter to centralize federal emergency functions.

President Carter's 1979 executive order merged many of the separate disaster-related responsibilities into a new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Among other agencies, FEMA absorbed: the Federal Insurance Administration, the National Fire Prevention and Control Administration, the National Weather Service Community Preparedness Program, the Federal Preparedness Agency of the General Services Administration and the Federal Disaster Assistance Administration activities from HUD. Civil defense responsibilities were also transferred to the new agency from the Defense Department's Defense Civil Preparedness Agency.
FEMA: your tax dollars at work for progressive government in response to the needs of the people.