Federalism and Domestic Disasters: Promoting a Balanced Response

by Richard Weitz

Jan 1, 2006
In response to the widespread devastation wrought by hurricane Katrina, many people have called for strengthening the federal government's involvement in responding to catastrophic emergencies. Although enhancements to federal capabilities in this area are necessary, such steps should not obscure the principle that any homeland security system must be national, not just federal. A truly robust U.S. response to domestic disasters will require a strong contribution by state and local governments, the private sector, voluntary associations, community-based groups, and individuals to prevent and manage terrorist attacks and natural disasters. The federal government can assist in many areas, but its programs should aim to supplement, not supplant, national homeland security efforts.
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