FEMA and the most obvious decision…

If you are among the thousands of Louisiana families still dealing with the consequences of hurricanes Gustav and Ike, think of this happy news: When dealing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the two events might well have occurred in separate years, instead of within two weeks of each other.

For purposes of the paperwork to gain access to federal aid, the storms are counted as two events. Gustav made landfall on Sept. 1, Ike on Sept. 13.

Not unreasonably, the Louisiana Recovery Authority asked on behalf of the state that the two storms be combined for aid purposes. “A ‘single disaster’ approach significantly eliminates duplicated administrative efforts, both on a local and federal level,” LRA Director Paul Rainwater wrote to FEMA.

Rainwater noted hurricanes Katrina and Rita, about a month apart, also were “combined” storms for paperwork purposes.

The response, one might think, would be a slap of a palm to the collective forehead of FEMA leadership. No, not exactly.

FEMA is thinking about it.

“FEMA will carefully consider this request and, as a partner with the governor and local officials, look at ways to streamline recovery at all levels of government and ensure funds are distributed efficiently,” FEMA Director Jim Stark said in a statement. “In order for recovery to be efficient, all unnecessary bureaucratic steps need to be eliminated at the local, state, and federal levels.”

We don’t know how long careful consideration will take.

We don’t know if this will ever get done.

But shouldn’t one ask, since the hurricanes were days apart, why didn’t FEMA’s leadership think about this on their own?

– The Advocate, Baton Rouge