It’s Hurricane Season—Informing Federal Disaster Management

Hurricane season is well under way, and we’re highlighting some of our reports and resources that can help inform federal disaster management in events such as hurricanes.

2014’s first named storm, Hurricane Arthur, has already found a place in the record books. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, July 3rd—when Hurricane Arthur made landfall in North Carolina—is the earliest recorded date for a hurricane to hit North Carolina. Hurricane Arthur was the first hurricane to make landfall on the U.S. mainland since Hurricane Isaac on August 28-29, 2012, and the first Category 2 hurricane in the United States since Hurricane Ike in 2008. With the potential severity of this year’s hurricane season, you may be interested in some of the resources GAO has on the federal government’s emergency preparedness and response efforts.

Preparing for, responding to, and recovering from hurricanes and other extreme weather events is becoming increasingly costly for the federal government. From 2004-2011, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) put more than $80 billion toward federal disaster assistance. In that time, the number of major disaster declarations increased—including such notable hurricanes as Katrina, Rita, and Ike. (Hurricane Sandy was in 2012.) In May, we testified on some preliminary observations about building resilience into disaster recovery to help mitigate the fiscal effects of future disasters, particularly for Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.

We have also put together a resource on federal disaster management that outlines key elements of successful disaster management efforts. In addition our High Risk list features related issues such as the National Flood Insurance Program and limiting federal fiscal exposure from weather and other potential climate change effects. A report from late last year continued our follow-up on some of the changes at FEMA since Hurricane Katrina and the Post-Katrina Emergency Reform Act of 2006.

In addition to learning about federal preparedness and response, you may want to make your own preparations—hurricane season doesn’t officially end until November 30. Here are a couple of resources from FEMA to get you started:

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