Disaster ManagementRecent Disasters Demonstrate the Need to Improve the Nation's Response Strategy Gao ID: T-RCED-93-13 March 2, 1993
The federal government's strategy for responding to catastrophes like Hurricane Andrew is deficient. It lacks plans for (1) comprehensively assessing damage and the needs of disaster victims or (2) delivering quick, responsive assistance. The federal government also does not have explicit authority to adequately prepare for a disaster when there is warning. Finally, state and local governments generally do not have the training and funding needed to respond on their own to disasters. In the case of Hurricane Andrew, shortcomings included inadequate damage assessments, inaccurate estimates of needed services, and miscommunication and confusion at all levels of government--all of which slowed the delivery of vital services to disaster areas. On the other hand, the military proved that it can respond very efficiently to the immediate needs of the disaster victims. GAO outlines several steps that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Congress could take to strengthen the government's response to natural disasters.