Thursday, September 18, 2008

Are U.S. Disaster Charities Prepared to Handle Large Scale Disasters? GAO Says "No"

On September 18, 2008, the Washington Post reports that a forthcoming GAO study concludes that major disaster relief charities in the United States are unprepared to meet disaster needs in major U.S. cities.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

A large-scale disaster would "overwhelm" the Red Cross and other nonprofit organizations that have federal responsibilities for assisting the government in feeding and sheltering victims of natural disasters, concludes the analysis, which is to be released today by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office.

. . .

The report, based on a 13-month investigation, found that a nuclear terrorist attack in Washington could leave 150,000 people in need of shelter, but the Red Cross has the capacity to shelter only about 13,000 in the region.

Similarly, a major earthquake in Los Angeles could necessitate shelter for as many as 300,000 people, but the Red Cross's capacity there is 84,000, the report says.

"Without government and other assistance, a worst-case large-scale disaster would overwhelm voluntary organizations' current sheltering and feeding capabilities," the report says.

This report comes at a bad time for the Red Cross in particular because of recent news reports (blogged here) that Red Cross Funds are running dry due to hurricanes and other natural disasters.

For the entire article, see "Charities Unprepared for Major Disaster, GAO Says" in the September 18, 2008, issue of the Washington Post.  For the GAO Report entitled " Voluntary Organizations: FEMA Should  More Fully Assess Organizations' Mass Care Capabilities and Update the Red Cross Role in Catastrophic Events" go to http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08823.pdf.

DAB

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/nonprofit/2008/09/are-us-disaster.html

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