Governor Deal’s Weather Task Force is More of a Mob Than a Problem Solving Team

To improve the state of Georgia’s response to severe weather, Governor Nathan Deal appointed a 28 member task force.  A few years ago, when Atlanta educators were accused of changing answers on student tests sheets, the Governor (Sonny Perdue) appointed a panel of three to investigate and prepare a report.  Why do we need 28 people, many of whom simply do not have the time to investigate the state’s natural disaster alert system.

Governor Deal has appointed 28 people to meet and has charged them with coming up with plans to improve the state’s ability to respond to severe weather.  They must report back to the Governor within 60 days of their first meeting.

The task force is made up senior level people from various organizations in the state, public and private.  Figure 1 is a break-down of the Task Force into various categories:

Georgia Severe Weather Task Force

1

Chamber of Commerce

6

Corporations

1

Georgia Emergency Management Authority (GEMA)

1

Governor’s Office

4

Legislators

1

MARTA

1

Natural Resources Dept.

3

Police, Fire & Safety

3

School Superintendents

2

Transportation

5

Weather TV Announcers and National Weather Service

Figure 1. Georgia Severe Weather Task Force, Feb. 3, 2014

The Task Force is more a mob, and not a group that can solve problems and make recommendations.  But more than this is the fact that many of the members of this Task Force contributed to the Atlanta Weather Fiasco on January 28 – 29, 2014. If you look over the list of categories, the fundamental reason the state did NOT respond to the severe weather forecasts that we clearly made public on all four Atlanta TV stations, as well as the National Weather Service, in Peachtree City, Georgia.

Investigate the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA)

The organization that should be investigated is GEMA.  GEMA has one mission, as stated on the GEMA website, and that is:

GEMA’s mission is to provide a comprehensive and aggressive all?hazards approach to homeland security initiatives, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery and special events in order to protect life and property and prevent and/or reduce negative impacts of terrorism and natural disasters in Georgia.

The vision of GEMA is

Create a culture of preparedness by fostering partnerships between local, state and federal government, local business and industry, volunteer and faith-based organizations, and the citizens of Georgia.

And, according the Agency’s website, the Core Business is Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery.

GEMA failed in it mission, and one has to question its culture and core business ability.  Georgia’s ability to respond to natural disasters is dependent on GEMA’s competence to make decisions and take action based on information available to them from meteorologists, and other earth scientists.  It requires a mode of thinking that is ecological.  People who work at GEMA have to be schooled in systems thinking, and have the courage to make bold decisions based on available data.

The AJC uncovered and published emails sent to and from the Director of GEMA.  The emails do not support in any way boldness in decisions making, nor do they show that GEMA’s director has learned from earlier weather events in Atlanta.

If the Governor wants to improve the state’s ability to respond to natural disasters, it needs to go directly to the source of the problem, and that has to GEMA.

The Task Force should be disbanded before it meets, and instead, the Governor should appoint a smaller group of people who do not have the vested interests similar to the make up of the Severe Weather Task Force.  This committee should be charged with investigating the culture and operations of GEMA, and report back to the Governor on time.

Who would you recommend as members of a smaller committee to investigate GEMA?

About Jack Hassard

Jack Hassard is a writer, a former high school teacher, and Professor Emeritus of Science Education, Georgia State University.

...and I'M STILL FOR HER.

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