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Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

President jimmy carter created FEMA in Reorganization Plan Three of 1979, with the intent to make FEMA the single federal response agency for disasters, thus reducing any confusing, overlapping, and duplicative efforts from other agencies. This urgency was underscored by the March 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident, which revealed shortcomings in federal, state, and local planning for emergencies. The executive order forming FEMA was signed days after the Three Mile Island incident.

FEMA thus took on the Defense Department's civil preparedness programs; Housing and Urban Development's Flood Insurance program; fire prevention programs and community preparedness programs from the Department of Commerce; and dam safety, earthquake, and terrorism programs from the Executive Office of the President. The first director of FEMA, John Macy, sought ...

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