The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency is in Iowa today to see the state’s flood and tornado damage in person. FEMA administrator David Paulison, who landed in Des Moines last night, heads to eastern Iowa with Governor Culver this morning.
"We’re going to provide everything we can possibly to help you get back on your feet. The state has been devastated and it’s not the first time. You’ve had two 100-year-floods in a very short period of time. We’d like to keep them 100 years apart, but that didn’t happen," Paulison told reporters during a Thursday evening news conference at the Des Moines airport. "You have shown resiliency back in 1993 and I know you’re going to do it again."
Paulison served as Fire Chief of Miami before taking a job with FEMA in 2001. He became the agency’s administrator in 2006. "When I took over FEMA after (Hurricane) Katrina, we only had about 1500 full-time employees," Paulison said. "Today we are over 3000….so we have doubled the size of the agency in just two years and that’s remarkable in the federal government."
Paulison cites a number of measures implemented in the past few years to ensure those who receive federal disaster aid actually lived through the disaster. "We do have an identity verification system in place we did not have after the aftermath of Katrina and you saw all the fraud there, so just bring something that shows us, yes you are who you say you are and yes, you lived where you say you lived and we’ll take it from there," Paulison said.
Paulison is scheduled to visit Waterloo at nine this morning and in Cedar Rapids shortly after 11, then he’ll jet to Indiana to view flood damage there.