FEMA says disaster readiness improved

May 13, 2006 at 11:45 AM
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NEW ORLEANS, May 13 (UPI) -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it is better prepared for the next U.S. disaster, but concedes many problems remain, a New Orleans report says.

FEMA, blistered for its response to Hurricane Katrina last year, said it started moving water, food and medical supplies to Gulf Coast warehouses two weeks before this year's hurricane season begins -- shipments that will be tracked with satellite global positioning devices.

FEMA workers also will broadcast live images and use communication vans to more quickly assemble information during a disaster.

"If CNN and FOX can do this, we should be able to do it," acting FEMA Director David Paulison told the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

"You can't turn this agency around in six months," Paulison said. "But I think we'll be in pretty good shape."

Aside from untested systems, U.S. Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., said staff vacancies remain a problem.

"They will be on their toes for the next storm and they are better prepared than last year," Davis said. "But they aren't ready for something really catastrophic."

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