FEMA earns plaudits in Georgia

FEMA EARNS PLAUDITS IN GEORGIA…. Many parts of Georgia have been devastated this week by what’s been described as a “once in 500 years flood.” It’s affected 20 counties, killed at least nine people, and caused about $250 million in damages. Vice President Biden appeared alongside members of Congress and federal officials in an Atlanta suburb yesterday, where the American Red Cross had set up a shelter.

By all accounts, officials are responding effectively, and federal aid made available by the administration will be used for recovery programs, including temporary housing and low-cost loans. After a half-hour helicopter tour of the area, Biden vowed that there would be no “bureaucratic stalling and shuffling” as officials addressed the emergency.

I was also struck by the willingness of two very conservative Republican senators — Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss — to credit “the White House’s quick response” and commend the administration’s efforts.

Chambliss praised the Obama Administration for a response that was both “magnificent” and “quick.” Isakson said he had spent last night on the phone with local officials, all of whom reported FEMA workers on the ground.

This is good to hear. I remember reports from 2006 about whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which had experienced some very high-profile failures, would ever recover. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) described FEMA three years ago as a “shambles and beyond repair.” The agency that was widely recognized as a model of efficiency in the 1990s had become an example of what was wrong with the federal government. There was widespread talk of simply scrapping the entire agency and starting anew.

It appears now, however, that FEMA is back on track, operating as it should. It’s encouraging.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.