The size and strength of hurricane Katrina resulted in one of the largest natural disasters in our nation's history and raised major questions about our nation's readiness and ability to respond to catastrophic disasters. GAO has a large body of completed and ongoing work on a range of issues relating to all phases of the preparation, response, recovery, and rebuilding efforts related to hurricane Katrina as well as a wealth of historical experience in reviewing the federal government's response to disasters and catastrophic events. A great deal of attention has been focused on lessons learned from the 2005 hurricane season and many recommendations have been advanced on how to improve the nation's preparedness and ability to effectively respond to catastrophic disasters. GAO's testimony today describes some factors for success and other issues that Congress may wish to consider as it determines what changes to make, including those of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) organizational placement, to improve the nation's readiness and ability to respond effectively to major disasters, including catastrophic disasters, regardless of cause.
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