Former FEMA chief Michael Brown on being evacuated

Yesterday Wildfire Today reported that former FEMA Administrator Michael D. Brown, “you’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie” was forced to evacuate due to the (now contained) Neva fire near Boulder, Colorado. The Washington Post has more details:

Former FEMA administrator Michael D. Brown was among 11,000 Boulder, Colo., folks evacuated yesterday amid raging wildfires that have scorched at least 1,000 acres. Brown, dubbed “Brownie” by President Bush during the Katrina Hurricane fiasco, moved back to the Boulder area, where he runs a disaster consulting business.

“I got back home to Boulder, the winds were just whipping up 60, 80 miles an hour. I was working in my home office, the dogs start barking, and lo and behold, there’s a Boulder County sheriff with lights flashing saying there’s a mandatory evacuation,” Brown said during a local radio interview, our colleague Ed O’Keefe reports.

Asked about the irony of the former chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency evacuating his home, Brown said: “It was strange being told to evacuate, because, you know, I firmly believe in evacuations. When they told me that, you know, I just loaded the dogs up, grabbed my briefcase and headed down the mountain.”

Brown was told there was a fire. “I couldn’t smell the smoke or see it, because the [wind was] just pushing the smoke due east. I couldn’t see the fire until I got down to Highway 36. And when I saw it, I was just astonished at just how large it was. So I sat and watched it for about two hours,” he said.

The Rocky Mountain News also has an article about Brownie’s evacuation. Here is an excerpt quoting Brown during an interview:

“I guess I had two reactions. One is I’ve seen these fires and I’ve seen these firefighters. In Colorado, we’ve had firefighters killed in these wildfires. And we’ve had firefighters killed in Montana and all over the country. I know what they’re like. These men and women are Type-A personalities that will do anything they can to save us or save a home. And I don’t want to be the one responsible for them getting hurt. So it’s like, OK, I’m out of here.”

“And I think the other thing, too, is . . . I remember one fire in particular in California where (President) Bush and I had been at where there were multimillion-dollar homes and everything was gone but the swimming pool. But I mean literally everything. Nothing but a foundation and a chimney. And just on the other side of the ridge was nothing but mobile homes and they were gone. And when you see people in those situations, and particularly for six years, you realize that the house is unimportant. What’s important is just get the animals and the family out and the heck with the rest of it.

“It’s odd when I think about it. I mean I knew there was a chance the house literally could burn down. But it’s like yeah, I get that. I get that and we’re all safe. . . . There are a lot worse things that can happen in life.”

Here is the 6-second YouTube clip of Bush saying to Brown, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job”.