I think it would be silly to privatize disaster relief, but it’s hard to miss how much better corporations did in planning for and responding to Katrina than the government did at any level. When President Bush looks for a replacement for FEMA chief Michael Brown, he ought to go beyond his list of cronies and hire someone from corporate America who has experience with this sort of thing.
Entergy and other power companies have done an amazing job restoring power. Not only have they done well in terms of customers served, but they have an excellent triage plan that enables them to turn on the power to crucial buildings first as well as to serve as many customers as possible by getting the easiest work out of the way before tackling harder problems. Then today I read that Wal-Mart had 45 truckloads of relief supplies prepared in Mississippi before Katrina made landfall. Wal-Mart supplied free computers to every shelter in Orange, TX so that refugees could take advantage of resources that are available on the Internet for finding relatives and keeping up with the news. I’m sure the company has done so elsewhere as well.
There are plenty of other examples of how corporations have responded quickly and decisively to the disaster, by evacuating employees, maintaining their operations without access to their headquarters, and providing aid where they can. Perhaps the CEO President can take mine of some of this expertise before the next great disaster.