Last year's hurricane season was a disaster, with many devastated areas still recovering and dealing with reconstruction. Federal officials are looking forward, taking action before the hurricanes hit again.
"Despite inherent challenges, we are better prepared this year for hurricane season than any prior year,” says Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security Secretary.
In what's being called an overhaul of Homeland Security and FEMA, disaster coordinators will already be in place in the Gulf Coast and mid Atlantic states before the June 1 start of the hurricane season. It's the sluggish federal response in Florida, and especially along the Gulf Coast after Katrina that has the government trying to streamline the process and get relief to storm victims faster.
But some state emergency officials fear this latest plan will only add more bureaucracy and cause more confusion.
"The federal government has no interest in superseding or pushing aside local authority or first responders,” Chertoff explains.
And with experts warning of very active hurricane season coming up, those along the U.S. coast can only hope that these new safeguards will in fact bring quick relief to anyone caught in mother nature's path.
The start of hurricane season just seven weeks away, the predictions are for 17 named storms, nine hurricanes, five of them big ones.