Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown, under fire and recalled to Washington in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, resigned on Monday, senior administration officials said on Monday.So, here's my bet: President Bush will name a retired Coast Guard flag officer to serve as the director of FEMA.
Under fire for a slow response to Hurricane Katrina, Brown was pulled out of Gulf Coast operations on Friday and recalled to Washington. President George W. Bush has been under pressure from Democrats to fire him.
There's a huge political and turf battle going on right now. On a tactical level, FEMA is over-responding to Ophelia as she churns in the Atlantic, trying to decide where she's going to come ashore. The agency has been trying to task the Coast Guard with pre-deploying helicopters and rescue teams in (or just outside) Ophelia's path. The Coast Guard, mean while, is just doing what we normally do: executing our hurricane plans.
People inside FEMA, at least those I spoke with last night, see their response to Ophelia as a life-or-death struggle for the agency. Their response to Ophelia will drive the public's reactions to the agency.
Er, I think the damage is already done. When the Coast Guard's leaders start getting named PFO for hurricanes -- normally a FEMA leader's role -- it's clear public perception (or at least administration beliefs of public perception) is rolling against FEMA.
So, here and now, I'm betting the President names a retired Coast Guard flag officer to head FEMA. I wonder if Admiral Loy wants to leave the confines of New London and return inside the Beltway... again?