FEMA did too little, too late in New Orleans after Katrina. The problems were different in South Florida. Here, FEMA doled out sacks of money to people who suffered no hurricane damage at all. Made me wonder if anyone there had any brains at all. Hence:
ARE YOU FEMA MATERIAL? TAKE THE TEST
Date: Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Edition: Palm Beach Section: LOCAL Page: 1B
Byline: HOWARD GOODMAN COMMENTARY
Thank you for your interest in joining the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
As you know, this is a challenging time for our agency. Hurricane Katrina and the news media have created a difficult working environment.
We are looking for the very best people to perform the vital work of rebuilding the Gulf region and preparing for future disasters and terror attacks.
You can help us by filling out the following aptitude test.
(Note: If you have executive experience in Bush-Cheney election campaigns, or were a college roommate of an executive in a Bush-Cheney campaign, you may skip the test. You're in.)
1. News reports are warning that a Category 4 hurricane is approaching. Your first response is to:
a. Get National Guard troops in place.
b. Make provisions for emergency food and housing.
c. Start writing checks.
2. A tornado hits two dozen homes in Miami. How many claims for disaster aid should FEMA pay out?
c. Who's counting?
3. As a FEMA damage inspector, you must have:
a. Great eyesight.
b. Impeccable integrity.
c. A strictly non-violent criminal record.
4. Which of the following qualifies as a federal emergency and should be promptly recompensed with tax dollars?
a. Smoke and ash on laundry 30 miles from Los Angeles brush fires.
b. Damage to 28,112 washers and dryers after a thunderstorm left an inch and half of rain in Cleveland.
c. $55 million in reimbursements to Palm Beach County for clean up and repairs a year after hurricanes Frances and Jeanne.
5. Local government officials and news reporters come to you with evidence that millions of dollars in federal emergency money has been given away too freely, including to people who didn't suffer actual disaster damage. Do you:
b. Clamp down.
c. Go on TV and say: "It's a pretty darn good track record."
6. If 1,000 firefighters from around the nation volunteer to help with the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, what do you do?
a. Send them to striken regions of Mississippi as quickly as possible.
b. Send them to flooded New Orleans as quickly as possible.
c. Send them to Atlanta to be trained as community relations officers for FEMA and assign some of them to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.
7. Truckloads of water and ice descend on the Gulf region, their drivers hoping to bring quick comfort to the afflicted. Your response:
a. Move them as quickly as possible to the devastated cities and towns.
b. Direct them to shelters where evacuees are gathered.
c. Send them "on a cross-country tour, from city to city, only then to be told to wait for up to a week in a parking lot in Memphis, with their engines, as well as their tabs as drivers, running."
Thanks for taking our test. We will process the results and let you know whether you have the necessary sensitivity to political pressure, instinct for public relations and bureaucratic befuddlement that is the hallmark of our agency.
-- Your friends at FEMA,
The "Free Money" People
Answers: 1) C. What, you were expecting a straight answer? 2) B, according to a South Florida Sun-Sentinel investigation. 3) None. Trick question. I'm not sure there is an automatic disqualifier. 4) A and B. The county's still waiting for its $55 million. 5) C. Former FEMA chief Michael Brown said it on CNN. 6) C. As reported in The Salt Lake Tribune. 7. C. So says The New York Times.)