Emergency Agency Called Slow to Act

From a Times Staff Writer

Rep. Leon E. Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) Tuesday criticized the performance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency during the Loma Prieta earthquake last fall, citing excessive bureaucracy that resulted in a “circle of frustration” for victims.

“In many instances I felt that I had to exert great pressure on these officials to have them provide services that should have been provided without my intervention,” Panetta told a House Public Works and Transportation subcommittee that is investigating FEMA’s ability to cope with major disasters.

FEMA officials said that the agency’s top official for disaster response, Grant Peterson, is scheduled to testify before the subcommittee today. He would not discuss the criticism of the agency before his appearance, they said.