U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has rejected charges that he was "detached" from the disastrous flooding of Hurricane Katrina.

Chertoff told a Senate panel Wednesday that officials were aware of the danger ahead of time, but said his department was simply overwhelmed by the catastrophe.

The committee chairwoman, Republican Senator Susan Colllins, said Chertoff seemed strangely detached in the aftermath of the storm that devastated New Orleans and other areas of the U.S. Gulf Coast last August.

A congressional report due out later today strongly criticizes the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina. Excerpts say the government had a clear indication of how bad the damage to New Orleans would be, but failed to act.

The report says Chertoff enacted emergency response programs late or ineffectively, and President Bush failed to use his power to cut through government bureaucracy.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.