President Obama announced this afternoon he will nominate Florida's emergency director to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- a post that is largely invisible when things go well, but is under the microscope when they go badly.
Exhibit A: Michael Brown, who was vilified for the government response, or lack thereof, to Hurricane Katrina.
For his first public appearance as FEMA nominee, Craig Fugate will join Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano at an event in New Orleans, which was devastated by Katrina.
Obama said in a statement: "From his experience as a first responder to his strong leadership as Florida’s Emergency Manager, Craig has what it takes to help us improve our preparedness, response and recovery efforts and I can think of no one better to lead FEMA. I’m confident that Craig is the right person for the job and will ensure that the failures of the past are never repeated.
Napolitano said in a statement, “FEMA must have experienced leadership to succeed in its challenging mission. Craig Fugate is no stranger to emergency management or to FEMA. He is one of the most respected emergency managers in the nation, and the work he’s accomplished in Florida serves as a model for other states to follow. He will be a tremendous asset to FEMA and its employees, and I look forward to working with him.”
Fugate's mini-biography, provided by the White House, is below:
Craig Fugate, Nominee for FEMA Administrator
As the Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Mr. Fugate oversees an agency with 138 full time staff. The Division coordinates disaster response, recovery, preparedness and mitigation efforts with each of the state's 67 counties and local governments. In September 2003, the Florida Emergency Management Program became the first state emergency management program in the nation to receive full accreditation from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program.
From volunteer firefighter, Paramedic, to Lieutenant with Alachua County Fire Rescue, his 15 year career in local government included serving 10 years as the Emergency Manager for Alachua County, Florida.
In May of 1997, he was appointed Chief of the Bureau of Preparedness and Response with the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Over the next four years, the State of Florida faced numerous disasters while continuing to build a nationally recognized emergency management program.
In October of 2001, Mr. Fugate was appointed by Governor Bush as Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. With the events of September 11, 2001, the Division was tasked with the role of managing the Federal Homeland Security funding and developing Florida’s Domestic Security Strategy with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Florida’s program is recognized as a model for other states.
In 2004, Florida was impacted by 4 major land falling hurricanes (Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne) setting a record in both numbers of storms as well as damages for the State of Florida.
In 2005, Florida was again impacted by 4 hurricanes with Hurricane Dennis and Wilma striking as major hurricanes (Category 3 or greater). 2005 also saw Florida’s largest mutual aid response to another state due to impacts of Hurricane Katrina along the Mississippi Coast, over 7000 responders from state and local agencies provided assistance to the State of Mississippi and local communities, additional resources were sent to the State of Louisiana.
In December 2006, Governor Crist reappointed Fugate as Director, the role he continues today.
Director Fugate has served as the State Coordinating Officer in 23 Declared State Emergencies, 11 of which were Presidential Declared Disasters totaling over 4.5 billion in federal assistance.
Fugate is a native of Jacksonville, Florida.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.