Skip to main content

Mass Care in Disasters: FEMA Should Update the Red Cross Role in Catastrophic Events and More Fully Assess Voluntary Organizations' Mass Care Capabilities

GAO-08-1175T Published: Sep 23, 2008. Publicly Released: Sep 23, 2008.
Jump To:
Skip to Highlights


Voluntary organizations have traditionally played a major role in the nation's response to disasters, but the response to Hurricane Katrina raised concerns about their ability to handle large-scale disasters. This testimony examines (1) the roles of five voluntary organizations in providing mass care and other services, (2) the steps they have taken to improve service delivery, (3) their current capabilities for responding to mass care needs, and (4) the challenges they face in preparing for large-scale disasters. This testimony is based on GAO's previous report (GAO-08-823) that reviewed the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, the Southern Baptist Convention, Catholic Charities USA, and United Way of America; interviewed officials from these organizations and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); reviewed data and laws; and visited four high-risk metro areas--Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Washington, D.C.

Full Report

Office of Public Affairs


Agency missionsCharitable organizationsDisaster planningDisaster recoveryDisaster recovery plansDisaster relief aidEmergency managementEmergency medical servicesEmergency preparednessEmergency responseEmergency response personnelEmergency response proceduresFederal agenciesFederal aid to statesstate relationsFunds managementGrant monitoringHomeland securityHurricane KatrinaHurricanesLocal governmentsNatural disastersRelief agenciesStrategic planningVolunteer forcesVolunteer servicesDisaster housingAssessments