Craig Fugate's next rescue mission will be his biggest yet.
As Florida's chief of emergency management, he has literally been in the eye of the hurricane, over and over again. Now, as President Barack Obama's pick to run the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he carries decades of in-the-trenches experience to a high-profile job with no margin for error.
"The best decision I ever made in my professional life was to hire him," said Joe Myers, who preceded Fugate (FEW-gate) as Florida's emergency management director. "I wasn't looking for someone who sugarcoated everything. In a disaster, you don't want that."
Myers, who now runs an emergency-management consulting firm, hired Fugate in 1997 as a bureau chief helping Florida prepare for hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts and wildfires. The two men hit it off so well that the job interview lasted five hours.
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"I asked him, 'What is your weakness?' " Myers recalled. "He said, 'I don't suffer fools.' I said, 'That's the man I need.' "
Fugate is known for plain talk and a direct manner. Friends have urged him not to change his ways when he gets to Washington.
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