Is there a Civil Defense Program? Some of us might know what CD is and some of us might have seen the old black and yellow signs. This program was in it’s height during the Cold War and then slowly disappeared from public view. The signage was taken down, block captains were told to put their helmets and armbands away and life went on.
In the United States, the federal civil defense program was authorized by statute and ran from 1951 to 1994. Originally authorized by Public Law 920 of the 81st Congress it was repealed by Public Law 93-337 in 1994. Small portions of that statutory scheme were incorporated into the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law 100-707) which superseded in part, amended in part, and supplemented in part the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-288). In the portions of the civil defense statute incorporated into the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act the primary modification was to use the term “Emergency Preparedness” wherever the term “Civil Defense” previously appeared in the statutory language.
An important concept initiated by President Jimmy Carter was the so-called “Crisis Relocation Program” administered as part of the federal civil defense program. That effort largely lapsed under President Ronald Reagan who discontinued the Carter initiative because of opposition from areas potentially hosting the relocated population. SEE Presidential Review Memorandum/NSC-32  (September 30, 1977) and Presidential Decision Memorandum 42 .
The ‘replacement’ for the Civil Defense was the creation of FEMA which later, mostly due to mismanagement, was absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security. However, FEMA or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has not established a very good track record before or after it was placed under the DHS umbrella. Over the years since its inception, FEMA has not only created more of a mess when attempting to ‘manage’ an emergency, they have actually stopped, prevented and literally kicked out other disaster relief agencies from the affected areas so that they can maintain control or ‘manage’ the situation.
For the vast majority of us, the only time we see FEMA personnel is on TV. For others, the sight of the blue jacketed FEMA worker makes us shudder. In the aftermath of a disaster, if you’ve not lost your home and only received minor damage, heading to the local temporary FEMA office to file a claim is a simple procedure. But, if you’re one of the hundreds or thousands of people who have lost everything due to the event, a trip to the FEMA office is a nightmare. The officials there will require you to produce land deeds, home ownership paperwork and basically all the documents that would have been stored in your home or safety deposit box. If you’ve lost your home, good luck trying to produce anything that verifies that you ever actually owned it. If you’ve lost all your ID you can’t access your bank to access your safety deposit box if your bank is even open or still standing.
It gets better. Over the years since the inception of a management agency that supposedly will assist with disaster response, some of us have seen wild things occur when FEMA rolls up on the scene. Let’s look back to tornadoes ripping through Oklahoma. The Red Cross was on the scene and set up operations within 12 hours after a series of tornadoes tore through rural areas of that state. It’s rumored that it took over 24 hours for FEMA to deploy to that same area and when they did, they told the Red Cross to pack up and leave because they had everything under ‘control’ and would ‘manage’ operations from that point on. When the Red Cross left, so did the hot meal service and shelter. FEMA took another 24 hours before they began ordering temporary shelters for the displaced citizens and even gave a thought about providing a meal service. Not only did their shortsightedness cause animosity but it caused a level of tension and anger among the survivors who were already emotionally shattered from their loss. FEMA then required everyone to get in a line and produce all the documents they had so that they could verify ownership of property and begin issuing checks. Most of these people were in their night clothes with no ID and their belongings were spread over several states.
Flash forward to Hurricane Katrina. The Superdome. Need I say more?
Tropical Storm Sandy aka Frankenstorm. What more can be said about that total cluster?
As I’ve pointed out at the beginning of this post, You’re On Your Own. Don’t expect help from a management agency let alone an emergency management agency. You don’t need managers to supervise what needs to done. You need workers to get it done. Anyone can be a supervisor as we all know and there are very few qualified people who actually hold that position. Not everyone wants to get down in the trenches, get dirty, and get it done.
Make a plan and prepare for yourself and family. Don’t rely on someone else who obviously doesn’t have your best interests in mind. DHS and FEMA are now more focused on COG or Continuity of Government. Their focus is on themselves, not you. When they get some free time, they’ll send someone out to check on you.
Don’t forget this important little tidbit: FEMA has public service announcements about preparedness, Make a Plan, Be Prepared and the 3 Ways, 3 Days to name a few. But, DHS has sent out memos to law enforcement warning those agencies about how preppers could be considered domestic terrorists. This is blatantly obvious that these two agencies are not communicating with each other.