Hurricane Katrina: GAO's Preliminary Observations Regarding Preparedness, Response, and Recovery: GAO-06-442T

Walker, David M.
March 2006
GAO Reports;3/8/2006, p1
Government Document
The size and strength of Hurricane Katrina resulted in one of the largest natural disasters in our nation's history. Hurricane Katrina raised major questions about our nation's readiness and ability to respond to catastrophic disasters. Hurricane Rita increased demands on an already stressed response and recovery effort by all levels of government. The two hurricanes provided a sobering picture of the overwhelming strains on response and recovery if there are back-to-back catastrophic disasters in the same area. GAO has a large body of ongoing work on a range of issues relating to all phases of the preparation, response, recovery, and rebuilding efforts related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Significant government and private resources were mobilized to respond to the hurricanes. However, these capabilities were clearly overwhelmed and there was widespread dissatisfaction with the results. Many of the lessons emerging from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are similar to those we identified more than a decade ago, in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which leveled much of South Florida. Four major issues have emerged from our preliminary work. The preparation and response to Hurricane Katrina are similar to lessons learned from past catastrophic disasters. These include the critical importance of (1) clearly defining and communicating leadership roles, responsibilities, and lines of authority for catastrophic response in advance of such events, (2) clarifying the procedures for activating the National Response Plan and applying them to emerging catastrophic disasters, (3) conducting strong advance planning and robust training and exercise programs, and (4) strengthening response and recovery capabilities for a catastrophic disaster. A risk management decision making approach is vital to develop the nation's capabilities and expertise to respond to a catastrophic disaster. Given the likely costs, Congress should consider using such an approach in deciding how best to invest in specific capabilities for a catastrophic disaster. Because of FEMA's mission performance during Hurricane Katrina, concerns have been raised regarding the agency's organizational placement, including whether it should be disbanded and functions moved to other agencies, remain within the Department of Homeland Security, or become an independent agency. However, other factors such as leadership and resources may be more important to FEMA's future success than organizational placement. Lastly, the federal government will be a major partner in the longer-term rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, supporting state and local efforts. The federal role in rebuilding will be particularly important for transportation and health infrastructures and federal facilities. In addition, federal programs will face financial difficulties and there is uncertainty about catastrophic losses affecting the availability and affordability of insurance. Long term rebuilding raises issues concerning the need for consensus on what rebuilding should be done, who will pay for what, and what oversight is needed to ensure federal funds are spent for their intended purposes.


Related Articles

  • Hurricane clean-up costs.  // International Construction;Oct2005, Vol. 44 Issue 8, p6 

    The article reports on the clean-up costs due to Hurricane Katrina and Rita in the U.S. Insurance claims for the damage caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are expected to exceed U.S. $32 billion. However, some sources estimate the damage caused by the storms to be U.S. $706 billion. Katrina's...

  • The Impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on Louisiana School Nurses. Broussard, Lisa; Myers, Rachel; Meaux, Julie // Journal of School Nursing (Allen Press Publishing Services Inc.);Apr2008, Vol. 24 Issue 2, p78 

    In the fall of 2005, the coast of Louisiana was devastated by two hurricanes, Katrina and Rita. Not only did these natural disasters have detrimental effects for those directly in their path, the storms had an impact on the lives of everyone in Louisiana. The professional practice of many...

  • Public Health Response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita -- United States, 2005. Daley, WR // MMWR: Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report;3/10/2006, Vol. 55 Issue 9, p229 

    Provides information on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 in the U.S. Economic and health consequences of the hurricanes; Description of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season; Ways in which the intensity of a hurricane can be rated.

  • From Ddevastation Comes Hope. Potera, Carol // Environmental Health Perspectives;Aug2010, Vol. 118 Issue 8, pA334 

    The article reports on a study conducted by Howard Mielke, a research professor at the Tulane/Xaveir Center for Bioenvironmental Research, that examined that effect of catastrophic natural events in the environmental and public health. Mielke found that soil lead levels in New Orleans, Louisiana...

  • Doing the Math of the Aftermath. Schenk, Mike // Credit Union Executive Newsletter;10/10/2005, Vol. 31 Issue 17, p5 

    Focuses on the economic impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the U.S. Reflection of a marginally deteriorating job picture with small improvements later in 2006; Escalation in energy prices; Alteration of the credit union's financial outlook to reflect macroeconomic changes.

  • Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: Preliminary Observations on Contracting for Response and Recovery Efforts: GAO-06-246. Cooper, David E. // GAO Reports;11/8/2005, p1 

    The devastation experienced by those throughout the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has called into question the government's ability to effectively respond to such disasters. The government needs to understand what went right...

  • Hurricane Katrina: Better Plans and Exercises Need to Guide the Military's Response to Catastrophic Natural Disasters: GAO-06-808T. Pickup, Sharon // GAO Reports;5/25/2006, p1 

    Hurricane Katrina was one of the largest natural disasters in U.S. history. Despite a large deployment of resources at all levels, many have regarded the federal response as inadequate. GAO has a body of ongoing work that covers the federal government's preparedness and response to hurricanes...

  • Lessons from the Twin Sisters. Lazur, Col John // Officer Review Magazine;Dec2005, Vol. 45 Issue 5, p10 

    The article focuses on lessons that can be learnt from recent disasters. To this end, the article informs that what has been taking form over recent years is a highly sophisticated emergency management systems (EMS) interconnecting Federal agencies, states and major cities in the U.S. for mutual...

  • Katrina Rebound: A Photo Essay.  // Community College Journal;Apr/May2006, Vol. 76 Issue 5, p39 

    The article presents photographs showing the destruction caused by hurricane Katrina and hurricane Rita. These features the community colleges of Delgado, Sowela, and Nunez. Photographs of Delgado showed the Interstate 610 near the Nunez Community College flooded. Buildings were under nine feet...


Read the Article


Sign out of this library

Other Topics