WV and National Disaster News - January 4, 2021


West Virginia
o   An Associated Press article on Saturday examines FEMA’s National Risk Index, which calculates the risk for every county in America for 18 types of natural disasters. The degree of risk isn’t just how often a type of natural disaster strikes a place, but how bad the toll would be, according to FEMA’s Mike Grimm. Oklahoma is twice as likely to get tornadoes as New York City, but the damage potential is much higher in New York because there are 20 times the people and nearly 20 times the property value at risk. In New York, people are far less aware of the risk and less prepared — and that’s a problem, according to Grimm. Grimm says, “It’s that risk perception that it won’t happen to me. Just because I haven’t seen it in my lifetime doesn’t mean it won’t happen.” Los Angeles County has the highest ranking in the National Risk Index. The article reports FEMA’s top 10 riskiest places, in addition to Los Angeles, are three counties in the New York City area, Miami, Philadelphia, Dallas, St. Louis and Riverside and San Bernardino counties in California. The AP article was widely picked up by over 400 national and local media outlets over the weekend. A graphic analysis of media coverage is provided here. Type PW: FEMA.
FEMA’s Tom Von Essen left his position as the Regional Administrator of FEMA Region II on Dec. 21 and gave the New York Post an exit interview that appeared on Sunday. The Post reports Von Essen slammed the nation’s early response to the coronavirus pandemic, the slow pace of vaccine distribution — and called New York’s nursing home death toll its “biggest failure” in the crisis. Von Essen declared that America’s political leadership failed the country — but praised FEMA officials, health care workers and first responders for an “excellent” job. Von Essen said, “The politicians are nauseating. They’re malfeasant.” The article also says Von Essen was a pivotal figure in getting medical manpower and personal protective equipment to New York and New Jersey when the pandemic

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