Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf Coast oil spill, and recent earthquakes in Haiti and Japan demonstrate that catastrophic disasters can and will continue to occur. Disasters disproportionately impact our most vulnerable populations and our ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover ultimately determines how many suffer and/or die. Yet billions of dollars are spent on disaster management every year without informed and consistent independent oversight. There is a critical need for an organization to monitor and track improvements in disaster policy, organize coalitions around key recommendations lacking political momentum, advocate for transparency, and ask difficult and informed questions.
In 2009, a team of over 30 DAP volunteers requested and reviewed local all-hazard emergency plans in 22 southern Louisiana parishes, to ensure the plans were comprehensive, inclusive, updated, and accessible, compiling results into a report that was shared with community leaders and local media. The follow-up by local governments was astonishing, as many updated their plans or continued public preparedness conversations.
In 2013, DAP organized nearly 200 families severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy to join a sign-on letter that accompanied a complaint to New York’s Attorney General alleging Red Cross mismanagement of the Move-In Assistance Program.
Nearly every federal agency receives scrutiny from citizen oversight entities, yet none focus on long-term oversight of disaster management, to ensure agencies and organizations with critical life-saving responsibilities are doing their jobs, systems improve, and a bungled response similar to that of Hurricane Katrina never happens again.
DAP is committed to reducing the human toll of major disasters and ensuring billions of dollars are better spent, all while training a new cache of oversight advocates that will soon enter the government and nonprofit workforce.