On April 1, 1979, President Jimmy Carter signed the executive order that created the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). From day one, FEMA has remained committed to protecting and serving the American people. That commitment to the people we serve and the belief in our survivor centric mission will never change.
Throughout the years, FEMA continues to refine, redefine, and reshape our way of doing business to better serve the American people. As the Administrator, I have had the opportunity to challenge our team to come together and explore new ideas to continuously improve emergency management as well as create a culture that encourages employee engagement and supports employee learning, critical thinking, and risk taking.
We are fortunate to have some of the best in the business working at FEMA. At a recent ceremony, I presented awards to individuals who have excelled and successfully collaborated with their colleagues to address challenges. As a team, we must continue to grow as a learning organization and continue to work collaboratively across the FEMA family in support of states and survivors.
This anniversary should not be seen as a one day event. Each and every day, FEMA employees are on the frontlines working with our communities, tribes and disaster survivors as they have been for the past 35 years – always ready to do what is needed for the American people.
The Washington mudslides occurred after the state experienced double the normal amount of rainfall in a month. According to the National Weather Service, the Stillaguamish River area received 15 inches more than normal.
President Obama signed into law the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013, which included significant changes to FEMA programs and a provision to amend the Stafford Act allowing Tribes direct access to federal disaster relief. El Reno was the widest tornado in United States history at 2.6 miles across. The Boston Marathon bombing brought in a response from the military and the FBI.
Hurricane Sandy devastated over a dozen states on the East Coast, particularly the densely-populated New York and New Jersey coasts, with heavy rain, strong winds and record storm surges. Within six months of Hurricane Isaac, FEMA housing inspectors completed 141,186 home inspections, an important first step in determining eligibility for housing assistance.
Beginning in the spring of 2011, an outbreak of 385 tornadoes threatened the Midwest, Southern and Eastern United States. One of the most damaged areas was Joplin, Missouri. In August 2011, Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast.
The 3rd most active hurricane season transpired in 2010 with a record 31 hurricanes and tropical storms, including Hurricane Earl, Tropical storm Otto and Tropical Storm Tomas across the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. FEMA also responded internationally to the severe disaster in Haiti with personnel and equipment.
April 2009 marks FEMA’s 30th year of service to the Nation. Federal disaster assistance was made available due to flooding in the Midwest.
75 major disasters were declared when Hurricane Ike hit Texas and the Louisiana coast, causing over $2 billion in damage. Approximately 200,000 people visited Disaster Recovery Centers for assistance.
A series of wildfires broke out in October, burning over 500,000 acres from Santa Barbara to the U.S.-Mexico border. The Logistics Management Directorate was established.
In October, the Post-Katrina Emergency Reform Act was signed, significantly reorganizing FEMA, providing it with substantial new authority.
In August, thousands were left homeless in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama when Hurricane Katrina stuck the Gulf coast in August; Hurricane Rita in September; and Hurricane Wilma in October.
In October, the FEMA NPSC began to take Internet registrations. Four hurricanes, Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne slammed into Florida during August and September.
On March 1, FEMA joined 22 other federal agencies, programs, and offices to become the Department of Homeland Security.
Wildfires ravaged 59 counties and one Indian reservation in Colorado; four counties and one reservation in Arizona.
On September 11, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. FEMA responded with substantial personnel, provided funding and other resources to support local and state governments.
Major disasters included wildfires in Idaho, Montana and New Mexico, an avalanche in Alaska and severe storms throughout the country.
Hurricane Floyd struck east coast states from Florida to Maryland and Delaware and its aftermath continued up the coast to Maine.
Hurricane Georges hit Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and then slammed into the gulf coasts for Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.
Disasters included winter blizzards followed by massive flooding of the Red River in North and South Dakota and Minnesota. A tornado touched down in Michigan.
In preparation for the ’96 Olympics, FEMA trained the Atlanta Olympic Committee on available federal services. Pennsylvania received 5 disaster declarations.
On April 19 a bomb exploded at the Federal Courthouse in Oklahoma City, leaving 168 dead and 800 injured.
On January 17 the Northridge Earthquake hit 20 miles from Los Angeles with a magnitude of 6.7.
On February 26, there was a terrorist bombing at the World Trade Center in New York City. Also that year, FEMA organized the Mitigation Directorate in recognition of the need to educate people on efforts to prevent the effects of natural disasters.
On August 24, Hurricane Andrew slammed south Florida causing $30 billion in damage and leaving 160,000 homeless.
Severe storms and flooding struck Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Indiana. Hurricane Bob struck the east coast from New York to New Hampshire.
Severe storms and flooding occurred across the country in addition to Volcano Kilauea erupting in Hawaii.
In September, Hurricane Hugo slammed into South Carolina causing $7 billion in damages. In October, the Lomo Prieta Earthquake hit south of San Francisco causing 62 deaths and more than $6 billion in property damage. FEMA began its tele-registration program.
There were 11 major disasters declared, including wildfires in California, Hurricane Gilbert in Texas, and Typhoon Roy in the Pacific.
During the month of January Hurricane Tusi damaged American Samoa and Typhoon Orchid hit Micronesia.
This year’s declared disasters began with severe storms and flooding in Washington to Typhoon Kim hitting the Mariana Islands in December.
Disasters ranged from severe storms in New Mexico and Arizona to Hurricane Gloria along the northeast coast from Connecticut to Massachusetts.
There was severe freezing in Texas during the month of April. By the end of the year Hurricane Diane hit North Carolina and Tropical Storm Klaus brought high winds to the Virgin Islands.
On May 2, the Coalinga California Earthquake occurred in Coalinga California with a magnitude of 6.4.
Disasters this year included severe storms, floods, mudslides, and a levee break in California.
There were 15 declared disasters ranging from Typhoon Esau in American Samoa in March to a major fire in Micronesia in September.
On May 22, Mt. St. Helens erupted in Washington State. 57 people and thousands of animals died. Hundreds of square miles were reduced to wasteland and over a billion dollars in damage had occurred.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was created by President Jimmy Carter through Executive Order 12127. Executive Order 12148 shifted disaster relief efforts to the new federal level agency.