ATLANTA, Ga. -- C. Richard ("Rick") Mayson, a highly regarded leader with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) since its creation 20 years ago, has retired as deputy director of the eight-state southeastern region.
Mayson, who participated in recovery efforts for such devastating events as Camille, Hugo and Andrew, oversaw all FEMA regional operations, including the delivery of federal assistance programs in natural disasters in the Southeast from late 1994 until his retirement. He also provided guidance for delivery of a comprehensive emergency management program of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery within the region.
Prior to joining FEMA in 1979, he was with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Federal Insurance Administration. He spent 20 years in FEMA's floodplain management program, and was a pioneer of the strong program now administered nationwide by the National Flood Insurance Program.
For a period, Mayson served as interim director of FEMA Region IV, which includes Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi.
Mayson worked in disasters ranging from Camille in 1969, the deadliest storm to make landfall in the U.S. since the 1900 Galveston hurricane; to Andrew in 1992, the most costly ever to strike the U.S.; to Birmingham in 1998, the most powerful tornado to strike the Southeast in modern times.
In all, Mayson was involved in response and recovery of about 100 major natural disasters. His career spanned 33 years of federal service.
Citing devastation in the Saga Bay subdivision south of Miami after Hurricane Andrew's landfall, Mayson recalled setting up a Reconstruction Information Center (which fellow workers immediately named "the RIC," a play on his name) to help homeowners plan for rebuilding their destroyed neighborhood.
"There were no available essential services such as water, sewer, or power, so we brought in two RVs to use as offices, a generator to provide electricity, portable toilets, potable water, and other necessities that made it a one-stop shopping center for storm victims," Mayson recalled. "We even provided architects and engineers to help storm victims, then kept the center open and operating seven days a week, 13 hours a day for three months. It was exceptionally helpful to the public, and very gratifying to those of us who were there."
The center became a model that has been emulated in numerous subsequent disasters throughout the nation.
Mayson, an avid outdoorsman, said he intends to devote his time to his church, his wife, his grandchildren, "and my hunting friends."
A native of Augusta, with family in Thomson, he and his wife, Carol, reside in Fayetteville, Ga. They have three sons.