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FEMA has functioned as an independent agency that is responsible for the management and response in cases of disasters that overwhelms the state governments. An excellent investigation on FEMA’s responsibilities since its inception until about 2003 was provided by Cumming and Sylves (2005), who outlined the agency’s development, which included policy analysis, an outline of its jurisdiction, and management evaluation. Of particular interest is the study’s emphasis on FEMA’s HAZMATS (hazardous materials)  responsibilities. The authors’ claimed that FEMA has acquired more HAZMATS authority after the 1981 Chernobyl catastrophe in the Soviet Union. (Cumming and Sylves 2005: 23) A more detailed discourse on pre-9/11 disaster preparedness in the US has been comprehensively investigated by Nicholson. For instance, the disaster events from the administration of Reagan to the Clinton regime were outlined and analyzed side by side their policy reactions. (Nicholson 2005: 33-54)The outcome of the cases handled by FEMA such as the hazardous materials contamination in the Love Canal and the experiences discussed by academics previously have provided the public and the policy network’s interest on disaster preparedness. An important dimension to this point is that the governmental policy has been largely shaped by the need to respond to specific types of crises. When the series of natural calamities hit the US during the 1960s and 1970s....
(Haddow, Bullock and Coppola 2010: 5) The authors noted that these calamities led to the heightened focus on the national emergency management, which by the end of the 1970s saw five federal departments and agencies, closely coordinating for more efficient disaster response and recovery initiatives. Within this period, three specific developments in disaster preparedness emerge. The first is the passage of the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, which saw the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) taking a more authoritative role in disaster management. Then, there was the creation of the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, tasked with disasters that would result from military and nuclear disasters. All in all, as pointed out by Haddow, Bullock and Coppola, “taking into account the broad range of risks and potential disasters, more than 100 federal agencies were involved in some aspect of risk and disasters.” (5) According to Bumgarner, the whole federal disaster preparedness and response program remained disjointed for the most part of the 1970s because there was no specific federal agency “on point” when it came to disasters since more than a hundred various federal agencies divide the responsibilities among them. (Bumgarner 2008: 7) This changed when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was established in 1979. Bumgarner explained that FEMA was a consequence of the growing clamor for sufficient and effective disaster preparedness and was created through a wide ranging reorganization that saw several existing federal agencies becoming part of the organization. (7) FEMA has functioned as an independent agency that is responsible for the management and response in cases of ...Show more


The paper “Disaster preparedness” seeks to evaluate the theme regarding the concern for adequate programs or the lack of it so that the public is protected from such crises and calamities. Disaster preparedness in America shows changing priorities in policymaking…
Disaster preparedness
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