Who is Deanne Criswell: As Louisiana and the Gulf Coast are battling Hurricane Ida, it is expected to become a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) expected to play a key role in disaster relief.
So who is its head, Deanne Criswell?
During her two years in New York, Chriswell helped manage the city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, large fires, overheating, and blackouts – along with events such as the New York City Marathon, according to her biography on the FEMA website.
A recent report by City Comptroller Scott Stringer states that the city’s response to the epidemic is outdated and that health care workers do not have critical supplies such as N95 masks.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the response, saying, “You have no way of fully understanding the global pandemic and none of us expected, anywhere, anything like that.”
In February 2020, more than 100,000 N95 reserves in the city were found to have expired.
In response, Chriswell wrote in an email last year: “There are no expired N-95 surgical grade masks in any city storage.” According to the newspaper, the NYC Health + Hospitals Pandemic Preparation Manual in 2019 should always have a large stock of personal protective equipment on hand.
The Stringer report found that it was unclear what role the Chriswell department played in the response to the pandemic that killed more than 33,000 New Yorkers.
De Blasio praised Criswell after President Biden nominated her for the role of FEMA in January.
“The American people deserve leaders like Dean Chriswell,” de Blasio said, according to the AM New York newspaper. “Dean is a fearless, expert, and deeply respected voice in this administration. I’m proud of all the things she has achieved in New York City and I can not wait to see what she does in her new role.”
Deanne Chriswell previously worked for FEMA during the Obama administration, leading the National Event Management Assistance Team and serving as the Federal Coordinating Officer, where she was the primary federal representative for major disasters, according to the FEMA website.
In 2005, long before Chriswell’s arrival, FEMA faced a backlash in response to Hurricane Katrina, which focused on New Orleans on Sunday 16 years ago.
If Ida gets into response problems, Chriswell may find himself like Michael Brown, the former FEMA director who headed the agency when Katrina hit. Brown was forced to resign over the widely criticized federal response.
Katrina caused 1800 deaths and Levy violations and catastrophic flooding in New Orleans, which took years to recover.
During Katrina’s response, Chriswell worked as head of the emergency management office for the city of Aurora in Colorado, where she coordinated the transition home and family reunification for Katrina evacuees.
Recently, Chriswell Surfside was on the field during a search and rescue operation for a condo crash in Florida, which killed 98 people.