Taken alone, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina does not reveal much about the capacity of the federal government to address the usual disasters that occur each year, but it does point to the limits of the government's current capacity to address catastrophe. Policymakers should use the window of opportunity following Katrina to deliberate about how much responsibility the federal government, and therefore taxpayers, will bear for major disasters. Surely the government must step in when states and localities are overwhelmed by catastrophe. But disaster preparation and response also requires cooperation between states, localities, and the private sector. Strengthening the disaster profession will help provide a common language of preparedness to be shared by the diverse public and private authorities who prepare for and respond to disasters.