Report: FEMA not ready for next Katrina

Washington_The Federal Emergency Management Agency is better prepared for the next disaster, but it is not completely ready for another Hurricane Katrina-scale catastrophe, the agency's watchdog says.

FEMA has made moderate improvements in its ability to deploy critical supplies, such as water, to disaster-stricken communities since its poor showing in 2005, the agency's inspector general concluded in a report to be released at a Senate Homeland Security hearing Thursday. But the agency has more work ahead, including development of plans to house disaster victims and improving training for its employees.

FEMA has been dogged with criticism since Katrina, most recently for putting hurricane victims in trailers with toxic levels of formaldehyde and for staging a fake news conference.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., said he was pleased with the IG's findings. Lieberman chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee.

"I especially appreciate FEMA's new attitude, which is: if it is legal and it will help somebody - do it!" Lieberman said in a statement Wednesday.

Since its reorganization, FEMA has successfully responded to small-scale disasters, but has yet to face another Katrina-style challenge.

FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison is scheduled to testify at the hearing. Amid conflicting news reports Wednesday, Paulison assured the public that he has no plans to resign before the end of the Bush administration in January 2009.

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