Disaster Management:

Recent Disasters Demonstrate the Need to Improve the Nation's Response Strategy

T-RCED-93-13: Published: Mar 2, 1993. Publicly Released: Mar 2, 1993.

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GAO discussed the federal government's strategy for responding to catastrophic disasters. GAO noted that: (1) the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) disaster response strategy was not timely or adequate for dealing with catastrophic disasters because it lacked rapid disaster assessment provisions and specific functional responsibilities needed to respond to catastrophic disaster requirements; (2) the federal government needed to improve the national response system by improving the methodology used to assess disaster assistance, the timeliness of response when providing mass care, and disaster resource utilization; (3) a federal disaster unit is needed to forecast impact, assess damage, evaluate state and local preparedness, estimate response needs, and coordinate response activities; (4) the Department of Defense (DOD) is the only agency able that has the adequate resources and transportation necessary to provide mass care, restore order, and meet victims' immediate needs; (5) although DOD is willing to cooperate in disaster relief efforts, it believes that it should not be responsible for planning, directing, or managing disaster relief efforts; (6) FEMA could better utilize and increase its disaster relief resources by reassigning its national security funds toward disaster response, and enhancing state and local disaster preparedness oversight; and (7) improvements to federal disaster relief include improved administrative response, communication, and leadership.

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