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The administration threw its weight behind a congressional effort to reestablish what was then known as the Office of Emergency Preparedness under a new name, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, uniting the nation’s disaster response with its planning for “continuity of government,” the secret programs that were supposed to snap into place in the event of nuclear war.
Created in April 1979, FEMA brought together more than 100 programs from across the government; publicly, the agency would be known for coordinating the government’s response to natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes.
The government then spent the better part of the 1920s trying without success to get rid of the property.
Later still, beginning in 1936, Mount Weather became a Bureau of Mines facility where the agency tested various boring methods.
“We are looking to the future needs of a rapidly developing and intensely interesting branch of science,” the observatory director explained, “and are trying to build the very best observatory possible.” Using motor-operated rotating steel drums lined with as much as 40,000 feet of piano wire, Mount Weather’s kite team broke its own world altitude record in 1910, flying a kite 23,826 feet into the air and recording the lowest temperature ever (29 degrees Fahrenheit below zero) using a kite-launched instrument.
As meteorology advanced and better technologies arrived, the Weather Bureau handed off the majority of the 100-acre facility to the Army for use as a World War I–era artillery range.
That publication was one of the last public mentions of the site for decades.
The agency’s real focus and its real budget was known to only 20 members of Congress.FEMA itself might be a mission impossible.”Today, conspiracy theorists fear that FEMA is setting up concentration camps to house political dissidents (Google “FEMA camps” if you want to lose an hour or two in a rabbit hole).The truth is a bit stranger: FEMA, as it turns out, doesn’t construct camps for political dissidents—but it started by taking one over.FEMA didn’t start off as FEMA—in fact, it has been reshuffled and reorganized more than perhaps any other key agency in recent US history.Harry Truman started FEMA’s forerunner, the Federal Civil Defense Administration, in 1950.