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"Over Here" US Ill-prepared to Receive Disaster Assistance

Many nations offered a helping hand in the wake of the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina. Due to U.S. government disinterest or bureaucratic inability to process donations, however, much of the assistance offered by international donors was never used to help Katrina victims. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), of $854 million in recorded pledges from 151 foreign governments and organizations, only $115 million was received by the U.S. government as of September 21, 2005 A new research report "Accepting Disaster Relief from Other Nations: Lessons from Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill" finds although some progress has occurred since Katrina, the experience with the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico indicates that U.S. officials are still not taking adequate advantage of international assistance in responding to domestic disasters.


A report by The Heritage Foundation  concludes that America can, and must, do better. In particular, the report finds that the absence of a system to accept foreign assistance reflects a greater problem. The federal government still lacks a comprehensive regime for planning and preparing for large-scale disasters. In part, this shortfall is the product of an inadequate interagency process, the means by which federal agencies organize and cooperate with one another and their partners in state and local governments and the private sector. Fixing the problem will require renewed vigor from the Administration in setting clear policy guidelines, particularly in implementing a National Exercise Pro¬¨gram, emphasizing the priority of interagency disaster preparedness for the National Planning Scenarios, and improving professional development.

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