Disaster Management

Recent Disasters Demonstrate the Need to Improve the Nation's Response Strategy Gao ID: T-RCED-93-20 May 18, 1993

Several recent catastrophes--especially Hurricane Andrew in South Florida--have led to growing dissatisfaction with the nation's system for responding to major disasters. The federal strategy lacks provisions for the federal government to (1) comprehensively assess damage and the needs of disaster victims and (2) provide food, shelter, and other essential services when local volunteer efforts are not enough. Even when there is warning of an impending disaster, advance preparations are not clearly authorized until after the President has issued a disaster declaration. In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could make better use both of its own resources as well as those it provides to state and local government to improve overall preparedness for catastrophes. GAO recommends that FEMA establish a disaster unit to independently assess damage and estimate response needs following a catastrophe. Second, the President should appoint a senior White House official to oversee FEMA and the federal response to disasters.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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