FEMA Bracing For ‘Maximum’ Disaster Says Agency Chief

Posted on April 30, 2012

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Recent hurricanes Ike and Katrina may rank among the three costliest storms in U.S.

Federal Emergency Management Agency

history, but in preparing for disasters the federal government must think bigger still, says America’s top emergency planner.

“As devastating as those two hurricanes were, they’re not as bad as it gets,” said Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Fugate told reporters Tuesday at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, Fla., that his agency has been preparing for realistic worst-case scenarios – not just natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, but terrorist attacks, as well.

In crafting a strategic plan to guide FEMA through 2014, Fugate said he charged his organization to consider maximum devastation when it comes to disasters.

That includes dealing with catastrophic events in which medical care would be needed for 265,000 casualties, restoring and sustaining basic services for an affected area of 7 million people within 60 days, and helping communities of 1.5 million disaster survivors recover within five years.

Fugate said there are some planners who say the agency should focus on more common, recurring events such as Ike, which struck Galveston in 2008, rather than even larger disasters. But he said ignoring the rare but plausible larger events would be irresponsible.

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