WASHINGTON (AP) – Flawed government planning for major disasters led to rampant confusion during the slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the White House concluded yesterday in a report focusing more on fixing shortfalls before the next storm season than on assigning blame.
The review described poor communications systems, delays in delivering supplies and overall tumult within the Bush administration, but revealed little new about the plodding federal effort in the days just before and after the storm socked the Gulf Coast last Aug. 29.
The 228-page document, including 125 recommendations for improvement, adopted a far softer tone than a scathing House report issued last week and offered scant criticism of President Bush, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and then-FEMA Director Michael Brown.
That House review, written by a Republican-led committee, blamed all levels of government for the lackluster response that it said contributed to the deaths and suffering of thousands of the region’s residents.
“The magnitude of Hurricane Katrina does not excuse our inadequate preparedness and response, but rather it must serve as a catalyst for far-reaching reform and transformation,” the White House report concluded.
It added: “Similar to the images of grief and destruction on Sept. 11, 2001, the images of suffering and despair from Hurricane Katrina are forever seared into the hearts and memories of all Americans. Those painful images must be the catalyst for change.”