US Disaster Preparedness Questioned

As Japan struggles to respond to and recover from the recent catastrophes that hit the country, some in the United States are reassessing their preparedness to such potential natural disasters, including earthquakes, tornadoes and flooding. And according to Michael Bowman’s recent Voice of America article, America’s disaster preparedness leaves room for improvement.

While former Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner believes the United States has made “tremendous strides over the last four years since Hurricane Katrina,” he says we are still not as prepared as we should be. In a report Skinner made to the Senate last year before he retired, Skinner said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is moving in the right direction in upgrading its capabilities, but doing so at what he termed a “snail’s pace.” His recommendations included implementing a strict performance measurement system for FEMA, and guarding against fraud, waste, and abuse of FEMA resources.

Every year, FEMA runs disaster response drills in coordination with state and local officials that focus on potential Atlantic hurricanes, Pacific typhoons, and earthquakes along major fault lines in Western and Midwestern states. Businesses nationwide should also remember to hold their own disaster response drills so they aren’t caught unprepared when it counts most.

According to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, rapid response is key during a disaster. “Disasters don’t always give us warning, don’t always follow a season, and often don’t happen where we have expected to have the worst impacts. We put a lot of emphasis on the first 72 hours [after a disaster strikes]. We think this is a key area.”

For more information about U.S. disaster preparedness and how FEMA is getting ready for the next disaster, read the full article: