There’s a lot going on in politics these days, and it’s easy to see how some things can get overlooked, but for anyone living anywhere near a coast, there’s a huge problem: Hurricane season is upon us and FEMA and NOAA have no directors. That’s kind of a scary thought, since the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are the agencies that track storms and clean up after them. If a city or town is hit hard — like, say, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina — FEMA will still respond, but there wont be anyone guiding the agency.
If you’ve ever worked at a place where management was in transition, you can imagine how messy things can get, even if the FEMA and NOAA staff is well-trained and capable. Someone’s gotta be the boss.
That there are no directors “should scare the hell out of everybody,”U.S. Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who coordinated military relief efforts after Katrina told CNN. “These positions help save lives.” So don’t freak out, but definitely pay attention.
It’s not like hurricanes or natural disasters just aren’t going to happen, either. NOAA, despite having no director, is already predicting that there will be about 5-9 “above average” hurricanes coming through the Atlantic Ocean this year.
FEMA and NOAA will still be active during hurricane season.
FEMA is part of the Department of Homeland Security and the current DHS director, John Kelly, recently toured Florida, where places like St. Augustine are still rebuilding from last year’s Hurricane Matthew. But he didn’t seem worried. “We are ready to assist any state, any catastrophe, certainly in the case of Florida, hurricanes. So we’re ready to go with it. FEMA is ready, leaning forward,” he said.
That might be so, but some officials are also worried about “setting the tone” of the agency going forward. They’re also worried about the Trump administration’s proposed budget, which would majorly cut FEMA’s budget. Hopefully, with everything else going on, someone will be brought on to lead both FEMA and NOAA before storm season really gets busy.