Issue Position: Disaster Preparedness and Response
The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina was - and remains to this day - almost beyond human comprehension, and the failures of our government to prepare for and to respond to the disaster was deplorable. Almost a year after the storm, the levees are still broken and severely weakened, leaving the city vulnerable to flooding. Victims are still struggling to find housing in the region, and the administration's budget makes critical cuts to funding for state and local programs and for first responders.
America clearly remains unprepared to respond to a major catastrophe. The country must continue the important task of providing relief to our fellow citizens in the Gulf Coast, but we also cannot delay the process of determining what went so gravely wrong, and how to fix it. The Republican-led House and the Senate both released reports detailing the government's failed response to Katrina, and concluded that the country is ill-prepared to handle another tragedy. The White House's report on the "lessons learned" from the disaster was short on real solutions. We need to acknowledge the serious mistakes that were made, and take the appropriate steps to rectify them.
The American people have the right to know that they will be protected the next time a disaster strikes. With the country still under constant threat from terrorism, another hurricane season underway, and the spread of avian flu a serious risk, there is no time to delay.