The next time Florida gets hit by a major hurricane, you might see a soldier at your door ordering you to evacuate. It may sound far-fetched, but President George Bush is discussing plans to have the Pentagon take charge of national disasters. His brother Gov. Jeb Bush is not going along with the idea.
The response to Hurricane Katrina was a disaster on every level. Now, President Bush is suggesting instead of state leaders running the show, the military could take charge of disaster recovery.
But Florida’s Emergency Management Director, Craig Fugate, says they don’t need any generals in the Pentagon telling them how to respond to a hurricane.
“Let’s look at systems that work well versus only looking at failed systems before we make any long term decisions about changing what I still see as the primary role of the federal government, which is to support the governor.”
Florida’s Emergency Operations Center proved invaluable last year during the state’s record setting hurricane season. After each disaster, state officials look for ways to improve and Gov. Jeb Bush isn’t about to relinquish control to the feds.
“I think in Florida we’ve proven the bottom up approach is better.”
While the Florida National Guard is mobilized during a hurricane, the Pentagon would use career soldiers.
Col. James McDonough, who spent 27 years in the military, says there are advantages to using the military in extreme circumstances.
“If you are in a hurry and you want a well oiled machine that does this as a matter of routine, that a good organization to look at,” he says.
Since the response to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana was so chaotic, Congress may change everything whether state leaders like it or not.
The head of Florida’s National Guard was openly critical of having the military take charge of hurricane response, but now that the president has suggested it, Maj. Gen. Douglas Burnett isn’t commenting on the idea.