October 15, 2021 6:00am

Has FEMA gotten better since Katrina? Our respondents think so.

They generally rate FEMA as "somewhat effective."

Photo of Matthew Albright
By Matthew Albright
Baton Rouge, LA Correspondent

After Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency became a four-letter word for much of Louisiana. Slow response times, problems with the now-infamous trailers, and bureaucratic snafus caused Congress to pass new reforms.

This year, Hurricane Ida put those reforms to the test. The fearsome Category 4 storm knocked out power and damaged property from the coast all the way up to the Mississippi line.

We asked our respondents for a general view of how FEMA has performed. Most said the agency was "somewhat effective."

And most respondents agreed that FEMA has gotten better since Katrina. Almost two thirds said it has gotten somewhat better, and a quarter said it has gotten significantly better.

FEMA is clearly important to our region. Almost two-thirds of respondents said they have a friend or family member who has had to deal with the agency, and another 25% have dealt with it themselves in a personal or business capacity.

It's not just disaster response that makes FEMA important. The agency plays a key role in the floodzone maps that govern everything from health insurance prices to local zoning and flood-fighting decisions. About two thirds of our respondents think FEMA's maps are fair; of those who don't, most think the maps over-estimate flood risk, which makes it more difficult than it should be to get health insurance.

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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