WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released the following statement in anticipation of the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on Saturday, August 29:
“Ten years ago this weekend, Hurricane Katrina made landfall along our nation’s Gulf Coast, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. Its impact was not only devastating, but heartbreaking. In total, there are nearly 2,000 deaths attributed to Hurricane Katrina. This weekend, we remember the lives lost and those forever impacted by this historic storm.
“This somber anniversary is also an important time to reflect on the storm and how we have changed as a nation in its aftermath. Americans from across the country embodied the spirit of the parable of the Good Samaritan with an outpouring of support to their neighbors in need in New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, and other communities affected by the Hurricane Katrina. They opened up their homes, schools, and businesses to the thousands of people displaced, and provided supplies, food, labor, and other resources to help their neighbors get back on their feet.
“But Hurricane Katrina also exposed serious problems and unacceptable lapses within our nation’s preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. Thousands of people suffered as a result. As a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, then under the leadership of Senators Susan Collins and Joe Lieberman, we took a hard look at what went well and what did not go well, what we did right, and what we did poorly. We then went to work on overhauling our nation’s emergency management operations.
“The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 took steps to fix many of the problems identified in the wake of the storm. For instance, the bill strengthened the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) by increasing its authorities, stature, and resources. And for the first time, we required FEMA to work to help ensure our nation’s preparedness to address catastrophes. We did this by requiring FEMA to bolster its regional offices and to build stronger relationships with state, local, and tribal governments. This has improved our capability at all levels of government to respond to disasters, and also FEMA’s capability to support state, local, and tribal governments as they rebuild. In addition, the bill called on FEMA to coordinate with other federal departments and state and local governments to write a national disaster recovery strategy. This led to the National Disaster Recovery Framework, which has helped organize and coordinate recovery efforts. The bill also included several important provisions to protect taxpayers and prevent waste and fraud.
“Since Hurricane Katrina, our nation has clearly improved its preparedness for, response to, and recovery from disasters. This has been demonstrated in the effective federal, state, and local response and recovery to major storms, such as Superstorm Sandy. While there is always more work to be done, I thank all of the hard-working emergency management personnel and other public servants who have worked hard to make these improvements happen.
“Unfortunately, due to increasingly extreme weather we have seen in recent years, we may see more storms like Hurricane Katrina in the future. That’s why we must continue to ensure that our local, state, and federal governments are well-prepared to respond to disasters and save lives. Part of that effort includes ensuring that sound and effective mitigation policies are thoroughly incorporated into our preparedness work, since we know all too well that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By working together and looking ahead, we can become stronger and more resilient by better protecting ourselves from future storms.
“Hurricane Katrina was truly an unprecedented event, and one of the most devastating and costliest natural disasters in our nation’s history. Ten years later, we must continue to heed the lessons learned from tragedy, bolster our preparedness and response efforts, and continue to support the ongoing recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast. We owe it to the survivors and victims of Hurricane Katrina to do all that we can to keep Americans safe and secure from storms, and to keep history from repeating itself.”
Additional statements from Senator Carper following Hurricane Katrina can be found below:
On Hurricane Katrina: September 7, 2005