Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) praised Brown for embracing the investigation. "He is absolutely serious about pursuing this," Foley said. "He's been phenomenal."
Brown came to Washington at the behest of his childhood friend and Bush 2000 campaign manager, Joe M. Allbaugh, who became head of FEMA in the Bush administration. After three years in two posts at FEMA, Brown replaced Allbaugh as director.
Michael D. Brown toured tornado-ravaged Pierce City, Mo., in May 2003. He directs FEMA, which has become part of the Department of Homeland Security.
(Charlie Riedel -- AP)
Michael D. Brown
Title: Undersecretary of homeland security for emergency preparedness and response/director, Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Education: Bachelor's degree, from what is now the University of Central Oklahoma; law degree, Oklahoma City University School of Law.
Family: Married; two children; one grandchild.
Career highlights: Deputy director and general counsel, FEMA; lawyer, Colorado and Oklahoma; staff director, Oklahoma Senate Finance Committee; assistant city manager, Edmond, Okla.; city council member, Edmond.
Pastimes: Hiking, fly-fishing.
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He describes himself as having a midwestern sensibility. He was delivered at birth by his wife's father in a small town in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Eighteen years later, Brown married the doctor's daughter, his high school sweetheart. He and Tamara Oxley raised two children and have a grandchild.
A lawyer by training, Brown made one failed run for an Oklahoma congressional seat and has worked in city and state government. But he did not have any emergency response training, a gap FEMA union leaders say is leading to a slow deterioration of the agency.
"He is a nice guy, very caring and sincere," said Leo Bosner, vice president of the FEMA Headquarters Employees Union. "I don't think he has the qualifications for the job."
As evidence, Bosner pointed to what he described as "overkill" in the Florida response, with people "walking around wearing blue shirts and hats so they could say, 'Look at all the FEMA people.' "
Bosner also complained that important training and education programs have been dropped and that becoming part of the Department of Homeland Security has meant more paperwork.
McBride, at FEMA, responded: "Florida was hit with four hurricanes. FEMA and the state and local leaders responded appropriately." She said the recovery effort will continue for several years.
Even surrounded by tragedy, Brown remains determinedly chipper. He sees just two small occupational hazards. The first is his relatively new habit of constantly scanning the landscape for hints of security weaknesses. On his frequent return trips to Denver, where he and his wife have a home, Brown said he is unnerved by a "mousetrap" intersection of Interstates 70 and 25. He frets that a nearby school has not devised an evacuation plan should disaster strike and traffic gridlock result.
The second involves a sort of disaster overdose. Despite the warm sunshine and pristine beaches, he has no desire to return to Florida anytime soon.