FEMA Failed In Its Response To Katrina

FEMA’s Response Received “The Brunt Of The Blame For Leaving Thousands Of People Stranded In New Orleans.” According to the New York Times, “FEMA’s relief operations have been under fire for more than a week, bearing the brunt of the blame for leaving thousands of people stranded in New Orleans without food, water, security or medical help. The problems led to considerable frustration on Friday as evacuees and state and local officials struggled to cope. In Mississippi, some victims of the storm said they had called FEMA’s disaster assistance line but were told to check the Internet or wait for postal service, which is not operating. ‘I couldn’t imagine people in Louisiana climbing down from a roof, finding a phone and being told to get on the Internet,’ said a 41-year-old schoolteacher from Ocean Springs who declined to give her name.” [New York Times, 9/10/05]

DHS Inspector General Report: “Much Of The Criticism” Of The Government’s Response To Katrina “Is Warranted.” According to the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General, “The federal government, in particular the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), received widespread criticism for a slow and ineffective response to Hurricane Katrina. Much of the criticism is warranted.” [Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General, March 2006]

DHS Inspector General Report: “FEMA’s Efforts…Were Insufficient For An Event Of Hurricane Katrina’s Magnitude.” When compared to other disasters, FEMA provided record levels of support to Hurricane Katrina victims, states, and emergency responders. However, a lack of visibility in the resource ordering process, difficulty deploying sufficient numbers of trained personnel, unreliable communication systems, and insufficient management controls for some assistance programs demonstrate a need for improved response support capabilities and more effective delivery mechanisms for assistance. FEMA’s efforts to support state emergency management and to prepare for federal response and recovery in natural disasters were insufficient for an event of Hurricane Katrina’s magnitude. Difficulties experienced during the response directly correlate with weaknesses in FEMA’s grant programs, staffing, training, catastrophic planning, and remediation of issues identified during previous disasters and exercises.” [Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General, March 2006]