Hurricane Katrina: Providing Oversight of the Nation's Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Activities Page: 4 of 25
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infrastructure was hard hit. The Department of Energy reported that
21 refineries in affected states were either shut down or operating at
reduced capacity in the aftermath of the hurricane. Damaged transmission
lines left as many as 2.3 million customers without electricity. The
hurricane also disrupted commerce. According to the Department of
Commerce, the ports damaged by Hurricane Katrina accounted for
4.5 percent of total exports of goods from the United States last year, and
5.4 percent of total U.S. imports. Finally, in terms of telecommunications,
the Federal Communications Commission reported that Hurricane Katrina
knocked out radio and television stations, more than 3 million customer
phone lines, and more than a thousand cell phone sites.
In my statement today I will highlight some of GAO's previous work on
challenges faced by government preparedness, response, and recovery
programs, many of which are directly related to this committee's
jurisdiction. For future work, GAO will continue to provide this committee
and Congress with independent analysis and evaluations, and coordinate
our efforts with the accountability community to ensure appropriate
oversight of federal programs and spending. As provided for in our
congressional protocols, we plan to conduct Katrina-related work under
the Comptroller General's statutory authority since it is an issue of interest
to the entire Congress and numerous committees in both houses.
My statement is based upon our extensive work spanning a wide variety of
topics over a number of years. Much of this work was done relatively
recently in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,
and the subsequent creation of the Department of Homeland Security in
March 2003. In all, we have published over 120 reports on disaster
preparedness and response, and other issues raised by Katrina, which are
useful in moving forward in addressing problems encountered with the
nation's response to the hurricane. At the end of this statement is a
comprehensive list of our related products.
Summary Our past work has noted needed improvements in government programs
related to preparing for, responding to, and recovering from natural
disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. Many of these challenges relate to
programs under the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
For example, health care providers have not always been adequately
prepared for catastrophic events. The health care community has been
addressing some of these challenges, such as those involving coordination
efforts and communications systems, more readily than others, such as
infrastructure and workforce issues, which are more resource-intensive.
GAO-05-1053T Hurricane Katrina
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Hurricane Katrina: Providing Oversight of the Nation's Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Activities, text, September 28, 2005; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc292715/m1/4/: accessed October 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.