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US Oversight Agency Criticizes Homeland Security for Hurricane Response


The U.S. Government Accountability Office says the federal response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was poor partly because officials never implemented GAO recommendations made after Hurricane Andrew more than a decade ago.

A report released Wednesday says Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff failed to designate one person as emergency coordinator after Katrina and Rita devastated coastal communities and flooded New Orleans last year.

The report said federal officials ended up waiting for states to request help before moving in with aid. But the GAO praised the Pentagon, Postal Service, and Coast Guard for anticipating needs ahead of time.

More than 1,000 people died when the storms hit the southern U.S. states of Mississippi and Louisiana. Tens of thousands of New Orleans residents spent days in disorganized shelters, waiting for help.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.