POSTED: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 4:46pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 7:03pm
NBC NEWS — The head of the FEMA says his group is doing a better job responding to natural disasters thanks to the lessons learned during Hurricane Katrina.
FEMA director Craig Fugate told the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness that the 2006 post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act provided the legal means to help get victims aide faster and to get agencies to work as a team.
He says his agency has made great strides since Katrina, which caused more than 1,800 deaths and an estimated $81 billion in property damage in Mississippi and Louisiana in 2005.
"It's really hard to be effective if you're always identifying yourself as a local, state, or FEMA federal person,” stated Fugate. “You've really got to work as one team… get in there quickly and work as one team. (You need to) be responsive and anticipating needs versus waiting for things to get so bad that it overwhelms before you get the next request."
Members of Congress praised FEMA for its response to recent disasters such as the Joplin, Missouri tornado and Hurricane Irene.