FEMA's Craig Fugate on disaster management
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate appears on the latest episode of "On Leadership" with The Post's business columnist Steven Pearlstein to discuss his take on the problem with "government-centric" response to disasters.
Pearlstein asked Fugate to elaborate on why he thinks government doesn't have all of the solutions to disaster response:
Well let me ask you, who provides grocery everyday in your community? It's not government, right? Why would you expect government to have all the solutions in the aftermath of a disaster when the private sector has spent decades building and refining and having supply chains that exist that government does not have. That we are somehow going to come in there and in less than 72 hours recreate that kind of an environment and be successful. Particularly when you look in at what industry does to get their stores open, to get their supply chains open. We actually end up competing with them. So I step back.
And this came out of some of the situation that I found in Florida during the hurricanes, where we were so focused on what government was going to do that government had to get in there with food, government had to get in there with water, government had to get in there with supplies and we hand them out to people, that we really weren't paying attention to the private sector, the retail sector, which was actually doing something very similar to get their stores open and actually getting open faster than we'd ever seen them before to the point where we literally found ourselves handing out free water and food in the parking lots of open grocery stores in a community that had no power. The grocery store had a generator and was bringing in extra supplies and crews to get their stores open. And we were totally oblivious to it because we were so focused on what government was going to do, versus what else out there as part of a community is also going to be working?
And so take a different approach. What we're going to do is go back to the retail sector and say, 'What can I do to get you open? And where are you not going to be able to get open?' And that's where I'm really going to focus. And that's what I'm saying, get out of the government-centric thing and thinking we have all the solutions.
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(Video by The Post's Elizabeth Tenty, Vanessa Mizell and Andrea Useem)
| February 3, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories: Agencies and Departments, Video Report
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