+Chhean, Chhunny & Puneet Kakkar, Primed & Prepared: Updating the Stafford Act for a Coordinated National Response (UC Berkeley School of Law, Law 224.9, Disasters & the Law, Spring 2006) (PDF — 188K)
"Hurricane Katrina revealed fundamental problems with our nation's ability to respond to natural disasters. Not only did Katrina overwhelm governments at all levels in their abilities to respond to the disaster, but it also revealed their inadequate emergency preparation and response plans. There was a failure among local, state and federal levels to effectively optimize assistance and resources coming from other states and the federal government.
"This paper advocates an amended Stafford Act to include three solutions that are crucial to strengthening national preparedness for future disasters. First, local jurisdictions and states should be required to develop comprehensive disaster preparedness and response plans, consistent with a national framework, that enable them to effectively manage complex disasters. Second, the federal government needs to harmonize its disaster-relief infrastructure and consolidate natural emergency preparedness and response functions in the Federal Emergency Management Agency within the Department of Homeland Security. Finally, the Stafford Act should include a contingency plan for a catastrophe so large it renders traditional emergency management impracticable.
"While these structural changes for national preparedness can be implemented by executive order as governmental reports and studies have suggested, this paper stresses the importance of enacting these recommendations in legislation. The Stafford Act is the touchstone of federal disaster relief. Updating the Stafford Act to include a national framework for disaster response, the federal infrastructure for disaster management under the leadership of DHS, and the framework for the nation's response to catastrophic incidents, will achieve clarity and permanency for all parties involved. Updating the Act as suggested will ensure that the country shall be primed and prepared for future disasters."—Abstract.