Sunday, March 20, 2011

FEMA and Japan--The Future is NOW?

Today's post has some useful statistics!
As of Sunday evening in Japan:

Dead: 8133 Missing: 12, 272 (Kyodo)

Injured: 2611 (OCHA)

Evacuees in public shelters: 360,000 (Kyodo)

Buildings damaged or destroyed: 117,000 (USAID)

Without regular water service: 2.3 million people (COE)

Without electricity: 289,000 households (713,000 plus people) (OCHA)

Aftershocks: 290 and at least one separate 6.1 earthquake (USGS)

Translating two of the above statistics to FEMA (and of course these numbers will change over the days, weeks, and months ahead) I focus on two of them.

The number dead would exceed any historic record in the US of dead from any kind of disaster except for plague or flu. Galveston early in the last century and the barrier islands of S.Carolina in the 1880's both had somwhere around 6-8,000 dead from Hurricane Storm Surge.

Still FEMA should conduct mortuary planning for at least 10,000 dead in a single event and perhaps more. Also 50K is not a bad planning number for injured in the event. Today, HHS is accountable for mortuary services under E.O.12656 but FEMA was blamed for problems in that area in Katrina. Perhaps HHS refused a mission assignment?

The second issue is drinking water! Who is accountable for provision of drinking water is under active consideration currently in the Executive Branch. Again E.O. 12656 assigns drinking water to EPA and DOD/USACOE but the relationship has been unclear and opaque since that order was signed in late 1988. This needs prompt FEMA attention now but not sure who or how FEMA would assign resolution without WH support since no longer an independent agency. Hoping this issue gets high priority NOW?