Florida's disaster czar a candidate for top FEMA post

02/12/2009 7:09 AM

02/12/2009 7:18 AM

Craig Fugate, who led Florida's disaster response during the eight hurricanes that ravaged the state in two years, might soon face one of his toughest challenges yet: leading the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Fugate, 49, is one of two likely picks to head FEMA, according to Democratic sources and an Associated Press report late Tuesday that came as a surprise to the career firefighter who has had his share of them.

"I'm sitting in my hotel room looking at this AP article and this is the first I've heard of it," Fugate told The Miami Herald.

Fugate, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said he was cold-called a few weeks ago by people at the Department of Homeland Security and then met Wednesday with Secretary Janet Napolitano in Washington. He said he spoke with her for about 45 minutes, but no specific jobs were discussed beyond the mention of a "high-level position" in FEMA.

"I did not apply for a job. I did not post a resume' for a job. I did not ask anyone to seek a job for me. I was contacted," Fugate said. "I've been very clear I have a great boss and a great time and I'm not looking for a job. But I've also said: When the president asks you to serve the United States, serve your country, your first answer is not to say no."

That doesn't mean he'll take the job.

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