Disaster Recovery: Past Experiences Offer Insights for Recovering from Hurricanes Ike and Gustav and Other Recent Natural Disasters

GAO-08-1120 Published: Sep 26, 2008. Publicly Released: Sep 26, 2008.
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This month, Hurricanes Ike and Gustav struck the Gulf Coast producing widespread damage and leading to federal major disaster declarations. Earlier this year, heavy flooding resulted in similar declarations in seven Midwest states. In response, federal agencies have provided millions of dollars in assistance to help with short- and long-term recovery. State and local governments bear the primary responsibility for recovery and have a great stake in its success. Experiences from past disasters may help them better prepare for the challenges of managing and implementing the complexities of disaster recovery. GAO was asked to identify insights from past disasters and share them with state and local officials undertaking recovery activities. GAO reviewed six past disasters-- the Loma Prieta earthquake in northern California (1989), Hurricane Andrew in south Florida (1992), the Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles, California (1994), the Kobe earthquake in Japan (1995), the Grand Forks/Red River flood in North Dakota and Minnesota (1997), and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf Coast (2005). GAO interviewed officials involved in the recovery from these disasters and experts on disaster recovery. GAO also reviewed relevant legislation, policies, and its previous work.

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