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Hurricane Warning For Florida; FEMA Southeast Directorship Vacant

By June 12, 2006

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Tropical Storm Alberto Forecasters have issued the first hurricane warning of the 2006 season. Tropical Storm Alberto is expected to reach hurricane strength within 24 hours, headed towards the northeast Gulf Coast. The forecast path of travel takes the storm along the Southeastern seaboard; 20,000 people have been asked to evacuate.

However, the Federal Emergency Management Agency does not have a Southeast Regional Director -- the seven-state region that includes states hardest hit by hurricanes. The states are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

According to AP, "Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama have averaged nearly one major natural disaster a year for the past 25 years -- highest in the country."

A new FEMA Chief, David Paulison, was sworn in last week. Interim directors are in charge in three regions: the Gulf Coast, the mid-Atlantic and the northern plains states. In addition, the Agency is short one-fifth of its workforce.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), chair of the House government oversight committee, "led a special inquiry after Katrina to expose flaws in the nation's emergency response system. That analysis concluded in February that local, state and federal officials did not work hard enough to prepare for catastrophes, leaving the Gulf Coast vulnerable."

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