Let’s talk about FEMA (Federal Emergency management Agency) and their responsibilities. I have been spending some time trying to figure out exactly what FEMA is doing these days. When I was working, I would encounter people who were working for the California office of Emergency Services which works closely with FEMA
At that time, they were an umbrella agency that would become involved in a disaster at the request of the state governor. They would then coordinate the response of outside agencies and supplies. Fema was a relatively small agency.
The history of FEMA
FEMA was formed when President Carter’s 1979 executive order merged many of the separate disaster-related responsibilities into the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In March 2003, FEMA joined 22 other federal agencies, programs and offices in becoming the Department of Homeland Security.
As of October 8, 2011, FEMA has 7,474 employees across the country. These are located at their Headquarters, ten regional offices, the National Emergency Training Center, Center for Domestic Preparedness/Noble Training Center and other locations. I have attempted to find out the current number of employees but have not been successful. However, I am sure that it has increased; based on information I have been able to find.
The agency’s primary purpose is to coordinate the response to a disaster that has occurred in the United States and that overwhelms the resources of local and state authorities. The governor of the state in which the disaster occurs must declare a state of emergency and formally request from the president that FEMA and the federal government respond to the disaster.
FEMA has currently divided the United States into 10 regions.
The Disaster Emergency Communications Division has operational control of MERS (Mobile Emergency Response) Detachments to support national and regional requirements. The six MERS Detachments are located at:
- Maynard, MA
- Thomasville, GA
- Denton, TX
- Denver, CO
- Bothell, WA
- Frederick, MD
A MERS Detachment can provide the following available support according to FEMA
“Each of the MERS Detachments can concurrently support a large Disaster Field Office and multiple field operating sites within the disaster area. MERS is equipped with self-sustaining telecommunications, logistics, and operations support elements that can be driven or airlifted to the disaster location. Configurations vary; however, some MERS assets can be airlifted by C-130 military cargo aircraft.
The MERS is a national asset available for immediate deployment; as directed, equipment and personnel will deploy promptly and provide:
- Communication support to Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) ESF8
- Communication support to National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) ESF 9
- Multimedia communications and information processing support, especially for the Communications Section, Emergency Support Function (ESF) #2 of the Federal Response Plan (FRP)
- Operational support, especially for the Information and Planning Section, ESF #5 of the FRP
- Liaison to the Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO)
- Logistics and life support
- Automated information and decision support capability
- Security (facility, equipment, and personnel) management and consultation
Most equipment is preloaded or installed on heavy-duty, multi-wheel drive trucks. Some equipment is installed in transit cases.”
The Center for Domestic Preparedness is located in Anniston, AL at the former Fort McClellan. It is located at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains approximately 60 miles east of Birmingham and 90 miles west of Atlanta, GA, at exit 185 or 188 on I-20. These are FEMA locations that are known to exist. I believe that there are others of which I am not aware.
In addition, there is the “FEMA Corps, who range in age from 18–24 years old, is a cadre dedicated to disaster response and recovery. It is a new partnership between The Corporation for National and Community Service’s AmeriCorps NCCC and FEMA. The Corps, described as a “dedicated, trained, and reliable disaster workforce” works full-time for ten months on federal disaster response and recovery efforts. The first 231 members of the FEMA Corps class graduated in July 2013. The Corps work on teams of 8 to 12 people, and follow the traditional NCCC model of living together and traveling together. In addition to working with FEMA, corps members must perform AmeriCorps responsibilities such as Physical Training three times a week, National Days of Service, and Individual Service Projects in communities throughout The United States. The Corps receives $4.75 a day for food, and a living stipend of approximately $4,000 over ten months. An education award is distributed to corps members who successfully serve 10 months of service, completing 1,700 total hours.” What is the purpose of this force and what type of training do they receive? I have not been able to find out very much.
FEMA camps, do they exist? This is a question that has plagued me for some time. I see lists of their locations posted on the internet regularly. I have attempted to verify some of the locations located not to far from me, with no success. Often they are on Federal land that is currently not in use. But I was unable to find support facilities of any kind for a camp. Does FEMA have the ability to set up refugee camps, yes I believe it does. Are they currently doing it, I have not found any evidence that they are. Would I want to go to a FEMA camp, no?
FEMA is a government agency that is a two edged sword. It depends on who hands it is in. It can be used for good in case of a national emergency or disaster, if it is in the right hands. In the wrong hands it could be used for evil.
My plan is to be prepared so that I do not have to depend on them