WASHINGTON – United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today sent a letter to the Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Steven C. Preston asking that the final SBA Disaster Response Plan be completed before hurricane season. The 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita impacted 125,000 small and medium-sized businesses Gulfwide, and in Louisiana alone, more than 18,000 businesses were totally destroyed.

"The SBA's response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was too slow and lacking in urgency, threatening the very survival of our impacted businesses," Sen. Landrieu wrote. "This is because the SBA did not have a comprehensive Disaster Response Plan in place for these storms."

"With this in mind, I want to ensure that your agency is better prepared for this hurricane season, which by all accounts, is expected to be very active."

Sen. Landrieu, a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship as well as the Senate Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, which funds the SBA, asked for the final SBA Disaster Response plan to be completed by June 1, 2007, the beginning of hurricane season.

The Small Business Disaster Response and Loan Improvements Act of 2007, S. 163, included a Landrieu provision to require the SBA to implement a comprehensive Disaster Response Plan. The bill was approved unanimously by the Small Business Committee and is headed for the Senate floor. In the 109th Congress, Sen. Landrieu introduced a bill, S. 2482, with the same request of the SBA.

Following the storms, SBA disaster loan approvals in Louisiana took between six to eight months to process and closings took an additional two months.

"The SBA must have a proactive, comprehensive response plan to react effectively when future disasters strike, be they natural or manmade."