U.S. Disaster Agency FEMA Improved But Still Lacking, Report Says

April 4, 2008

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is better prepared for the next disaster but still is not ready for another catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina, the agency’s internal investigators say.

FEMA has made moderate improvements in its ability to deploy critical supplies, such as water, to disaster-stricken communities since its poor showing in the massive 2005 hurricane that almost destroyed New Orleans, Louisiana, the agency’s inspector general concluded in a report released Thursday at a Senate Homeland Security hearing. The agency has more work ahead, including development of plans to house disaster victims and improved training for its employees.

FEMA has been dogged with criticism since Katrina, most recently for putting hurricane victims in trailers laced with toxic levels of formaldehyde and for staging a fake news conference.

Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman said he was pleased with the IG’s findings. Lieberman chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee.

“I especially appreciate FEMA’s new attitude, which is ‘If it is legal, and it will help somebody, do it!”‘ Lieberman said in a statement Wednesday.

Since its reorganization, FEMA has responded successfully to small-scale disasters, but has yet to face another Katrina-style challenge.

FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison is scheduled to testify at the hearing. Amid conflicting news reports Wednesday, Paulison assured the public that he has no plans to resign before the end of the President George W. Bush’s term in office in January 2009.


On The Net:

Federal Emergency Management Agency _ http://www.fema.gov

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