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NEW ORLEANS-Almost two years to the day after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast with horrifying consequences, the 2007 Gulf Cost Reconstruction and Preparedness Summit is set to take place at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. Tuesday’s summit will include discussion about the $100-billion federal pool dedicated to reconstruction and preparedness.

Richard Reed, chief of the GSA’s Office of Emergency Response and Recovery, tells GlobeSt.com that such summits provide honest accountability when it comes to assessing what’s being accomplished and what still needs to be done. “We don’t want to loose momentum on reconstruction. This provides a great opportunity in finding out lessons learned and what we’ve done to incorporate lessons into future planning,” says Reed, one of the keynote speakers. The daylong event, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the 300 Bourbon St. hotel, is sponsored by Washington, DC-based Equity International.

Reed says one of the lessons learned from Katrina is that there is a definite need for better advance preparation in the face of disaster–from response and communications, to on-ground resources, including the leasing of space to ensure support during times of emergency. He points out one of the many duties for the Office of Emergency Response is to have contracts and leasing in place for field work “to ensure the rest of the moving parts and pieces can work.”

Those moving parts, Reed continues, involve everything from regional infrastructure to on-location facilities to store supplies and vehicles necessary to deliver them. Preparation, in fact, was part of a memorandum of agreement signed between the GSA and FEMA in late June in preparation for this year’s hurricane season. The memorandum is directed at the two organizations’ cooperative efforts for ordering and ensuring availability of supplies, administration and even on-ground space, should it be needed.

Reed says that, as a result of the agreement and additional planning, people and supplies were deployed and ready for Hurricane Dean, had it ended up on the northern Gulf Coast rather than central Mexico. “That was the first memorandum between the two organizations in more than 10 years,” Reed says. “Katrina, as horrible as it was, pushed us in that direction and we’re trying to make sure that, as a federal government, we’re doing a better job.”

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