FEMA Chief Craig Fugate: Is Obama's Fate In His Hands?

Craig Fugate FEMA
Craig Fugate FEMA

Striking just a week before a presidential election, Hurricane Sandy could have been bad news for President Obama. The federal government doesn't have the cleanest record after all for swift and seamless natural disaster response. But so far, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been roundly praised for its relief and recovery efforts, as has its Obama-appointed director, W. Craig Fugate.

Even Republican governors and mayors from Sandy-battered states have had nothing but kind words for FEMA and Fugate. "I have to say, the administration, the president himself and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far," New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie said on Tuesday's "Good Morning America." "He worked on that last night with me ... offered any other assets that we needed to help."

Fugate's home state of Florida trained him well for the post. The son of a Navy veteran, and orphaned by the age of 16, Fugate became a volunteer firefighter during high school in Gainesville, and attended Florida State Fire College. He went on to become a paramedic and fire department lieutenant, before spending a decade as the emergency manager for Alachua County in a basement office so tiny that he purportedly had to jump out of the way when somebody entered, so he wouldn't get bashed by the door.