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>> Hurricane season is now underway but the Federal Emergency Management Agency known as FEMA is having trouble hiring enough workers to pick up the pieces when the next storm hits. I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington where the main Federal Disaster Response Agency is hanging out a help wanted sign, trying to find thousands of workers to rebuild after tornadoes, floods, or other natural disasters.
Now, local officials that deal with the agency say this staffing shortage is apparent on the ground. They're sometimes stuck dealing with people who don't know how to do their job. FEMA denies that this is the case. Like the military, FEMA relies on a reserve corps to back up its full-time workers, especially in years like 2017 when wild fires ravaged California, and hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey pummeled the southeast.
But FEMA can't find enough people who are willing to drop everything and deploy to disaster zones for months at a time. Internal documents obtained by Reuters show the disaster response force is understaffed by 26%, and FEMA can't always count on those workers to show up. Roughly 1 in 12 reservists didn't even respond when FEMA called them up last fall.
Several reservists telling Reuters that they had grown disillusioned after years of bureaucratic headaches, saying they felt like second class citizens at the agency. Last year's disasters stretched FEMA to the breaking point, and it's still spread thin. There are half as many people available now as there were at this time last year.
Now, officials tell me they'll be ready to respond by the time hurricane season hits its peak in early September. They've only got a few months to get ready.