It has recently occurred to me that FEMA needs a sense of dedication, a feeling of a special mission. They also need clearer lines of communication and responsibility.
I have a suggestion.
Abolish FEMA and create the FDRS (Federal Disaster Response Service) as the country's eighth Uniformed Service, along the lines of the PHS and the Coast Guard. Using military style organization and headed by a professionally qualified Director General, similar to the Surgeon General (or the Commandant of the Coast Guard).
I have read that some find the PHS redundant and unnecessary, that may be. The addition of military rank, discipline and uniforms will, I think, help FDRS interface with the mostly similarly uniformed and organized First Responders and military support essential in the early stages of any major disaster response.
As a Uniformed Service the FDRS could fall under the administrative umbrella of the DHS during normal times but in upon declaration of a disaster the Director General should report directly to the President, much like the military, or the Coast Guard (which in times of war comes under command of the Navy). Next time they might be able to be as effective as the Coast Guard was mobilizing and delivering help.