Some Heavy Weekend Reading

If you’re interested in doing some reading over the weekend, you might take home this new report, released yesterday by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office.

The report focuses on whether disaster relief charities would be able to meet mass casualty needs during a natural catastrophe or terrorist attack in a major U.S. city. The conclusion? Despite expansions and upgrades, they might simply be overwhelmed.

Since Katrina, the Red Cross has spent about $80 million to upgrade its communication systems and stockpile cots, blankets and other supplies in warehouses in disaster-prone areas. We have more than tripled feeding capacity to about 1 million meals a day, and our volunteer corps has swelled to 73,000, up from 26,000 before Katrina.

But, in reading the Washington Post article, the most important message seems to be that — in a large-scale disaster — relief agencies must combine efforts…no one agency can do it all on their own.

The GAO report doesn’t have to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Think about becoming a volunteer or supporting the Disaster Relief Fund so that we really are ready when a big disaster strikes.