» Justin Hasty – jhasty4@my.apsu.edu

When hurricanes Irene and Katrina ravaged the Gulf and East Coasts, the damage was immense. Homes were destroyed, trees were obliterated and whole areas were left without water or power.

In these situations, the people living in these areas turned to the Federal Emergency Management Association.

FEMA has been on disaster sites around the nation as a good faith measure from big brother—the federal government.

FEMA’s mission statement is “to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.”

But does FEMA really live up to its goals? Texas Representative and presidential candidate Ron Paul feels it doesn’t. In fact, he thinks the entire association should be scrapped.

“FEMA is not a good friend of most people,” Paul said. “All they do is come in and tell you what to do and can’t do. You can’t get in your houses. And they hinder the local people, and they hinder volunteers from going in,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press.

His views come in light of FEMA’s track record, which hasn’t been stellar.

In 2005, the government association was slow to respond to Hurricane Katrina, and even slower in its rebuilding of the Gulf afterwards.

And the price tag for this inefficiency? A hefty $3 billion dollars.

When his hometown was hit by a hurricane in 2008, Ron Paul’s community rebuilt most of those homes, erected a sea wall, and even assisted in the formation of an efficient evacuation plan—all without federal funds of any kind.

His platform for removing FEMA rests on the strength of the local citizens to use the private sector to restore much of the affected areas, instead of piggybacking on an already broke government.

I live on the Gulf Coast. We put up with hurricanes all the time,” Representative Paul stated in a New Hampshire campaign event on Friday, Sept. 2. “There’s no magic about FEMA. More and more people are starting to recognize that.”

As more areas are affected by disaster, more people are sharing his opinion.

When a disaster occurs, it affects the residents of that area, not the federal government.

And who should help rebuild the infrastructure of that area?

Certainly, it should be the people who actually care about their ravaged homes as opposed to big brother agents that are backed by an indebted, over budgeted department.

Even if FEMA does manage to get to a disaster site with relative speed (say, one to two weeks.), residents still won’t see much clean up efforts from them.

Instead, the association will put out a bulletin for volunteers, such as the Army National Guard or the Boy Scouts of America.

However, most of the people who want to volunteer are from the disaster site.

In any circumstance, the only way volunteers can help is by doing the job FEMA should have done upon arriving: managing the emergency.

The volunteers set up shelters, give out supplies, raise funds, and clean up debris, which is actually what FEMA agents are trained to do.

Scrapping FEMA would save the American taxpayers billions of dollars and avoid the biggest disaster of all: the Federal Emergency Management Association. TAS