11.29.2005

A walking disaster

Former Federal Emergency Management Agency head Michael Brown is now in the disaster-consulting business. The only question: On whose side?

Brown was sent home from the Gulf Coast by Homeland Security boss Michael Chertoff after FEMA's dangerously slow and confused response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Brown, who resigned a few days after being ordered back to Washington, was out of touch --- literally and figuratively --- during the disaster. Chertoff was unable to reach Brown most of the day on which New Orleans flooded; e-mails to and from Brown and FEMA staffers suggest his focus was elsewhere.

When warned in one e-mail that the situation in New Orleans was "past critical," Brown responded: "Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?"

It turns out that Brown had already been planning to quit FEMA before Katrina upset his schedule, and he bemoaned in another e-mail that he was still on the job. A lot of people quickly came to share that opinion.

Brown has since experienced an epiphany of sorts: "If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses - because that goes straight to the bottom line - then I hope I can help the country in some way," Brown told the Rocky Mountain News last week. He told the paper he plans to set up shop in the Boulder, Colo., area.

All Brown needs is a slogan. "Master of Disaster" might be appropriate.

1 comment:

Jimbob said...

Man, when I saw this story on the news the other morning, it was definitely the " WTF? " moment of the day ! :-)