Small Business Administration: Response to the Gulf Coast Hurricanes Highlights Need for Enhanced Disaster Preparedness

GAO-07-1124T Published: Jul 25, 2007. Publicly Released: Jul 25, 2007.
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The Small Business Administration (SBA) helps individuals and businesses recover from disasters such as hurricanes through its Disaster Loan Program. SBA faced an unprecedented demand for disaster loan assistance following the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes (Katrina, Rita, and Wilma), which resulted in extensive property damage and loss of life. In the aftermath of these disasters, concerns were expressed regarding the timeliness of SBA's disaster assistance. GAO initiated work and completed two reports under the Comptroller General's authority to conduct evaluations and determine how well SBA provided victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes with timely assistance. This testimony, which is based on these two reports, discusses (1) challenges SBA experienced in providing victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes with timely assistance, (2) factors that contributed to these challenges, and (3) steps SBA has taken since the Gulf Coast hurricanes to enhance its disaster preparedness. GAO visited the Gulf Coast region, reviewed SBA planning documents, and interviewed SBA officials.

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