Olivier Moréteau (Louisiana State University, Paul M Hebert Law Center)'s 'Catastrophic Harm in United States Law: Liability and Insurance' is forthcoming in the American Journal of Comparative Law. The abstract on SSRN reads:
Catastrophes or disasters may be defined as natural or man-made events of significant magnitude causing disruption such that survivors feel deprived of normal social help. In American law, catastrophic harm includes the mass of individual losses suffered by individuals, businesses, and entities of all kind, also including environmental harm. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), created in 1979, coordinates the response to disasters occurring in the United States while it administers prevention and organizes relief efforts. However, the system does not work top-down, since local and state governments bear the initial responsibility as first respondents. Local or state failure can cause the system not to be reactive enough, explaining the slow response after Hurricane Katrina.