Management of emergency has been a great challenge in most countries. An emergency requires urgent, timely actions and efficient management strategies, which prevent further loss of lives and property. Hurricane Katrina, which occurred in 2005, was among the global tragedies that have raised concerns of America’s preparedness to disaster. The tragedy inflicted extensive damage on various aspects of the economy, such as physical property and human lives. The Senate reported that the tragedy was exacerbated by the lack of proper planning by the government, as well as a poor response to the tragedy. Uncoordinated activities by various parties such as the Army and Red Cross worsened the effects of the tragedy.
This paper will provide a summary of the emergency mitigation process, preparedness of various institutions, response of the government and other institutions in the recovery process. Katrina tragedy management was not efficient, and government admitted of various weaknesses in the mitigation and response to the tragedy. The tragedy challenged emergency management, capabilities and capacity of the government at all levels to deal with the disaster.
The mechanisms used to mitigate the hurricane Katrina mostly failed. According to various reports, methods used to mitigate the tragedy in New Orleans were an absolute failure. Reports indicate that the levies were poorly maintained and designed and could not control powerful storms. With the global climatic changes and forewarning by weather forecast, the government did not develop proper mechanisms which could ensure the tragedy was contained. The superdome that was used to shelter refugees in New Orleans started to leak and collapsed after 10,000 people used it. Analysts argue that the facility was poorly maintained and could not stand strong pressure, and that is why it could not sustain the pressure created by the hurricane. The government could have developed partnerships with voluntary agencies and non-governmental organizations in management of the emergency. The failure of the national emergency management system led to the persistent failure to respond and recovery. The situation called for the national leaders, emergency managers, business community, voluntary agencies, as well as non-governmental organization to cooperate in developing mitigation mechanism.
The poor response and uncoordinated actions fostered the need to develop a new entity, which would combine the efforts of the government, non-governmental organizations, and voluntary agencies to develop a mitigation mechanism. The new entity should focus on developing community-based mechanisms of mitigating emergency. Lack of coordination between the federal government, local government, and voluntary non-governmental emergency responders led to uncoordinated actions in addressing the emergency. The failure was attributed to various factors, such as the inability of FEMA director to forward federal resources to support the affected states and local government. FEMA was to spearhead the actions of the response to the emergency. However, it was unable to direct the actions of various agencies and non-governmental organizations responding to the strategy. It was decided to build and develop the country disaster and emergency management system. The failure of the disaster and emergency management was attributed to the increasing pressure by the government to ensure the homeland security from rising terrorism concerns. The actions of the government were mostly directed to developing the homeland security, thereby neglecting the emergency and disaster management. This led to the uncoordinated actions by the government. The homeland security system was, therefore, caught unaware by the disaster’s size and magnitude. This was due to the exclusive focus of the home security agency on issues related to security after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The homeland security system was not prepared to deal with a national disaster of this magnitude. Political leaders and disaster managers failed to provide the much needed leadership in dealing with the aftermath of the storm.
Hurricane Katrina affected more than 1.5 million people and displaced more than 800,000. The death toll as of May 2006 stood at 1856, and further 705 people could not be accounted. Small and large business enterprises were affected by the floods through the damage of infrastructure and physical structures. The government agencies were not prepared to an emergency disaster of this magnitude. Leaders were unresponsive in providing leadership on how to deal with the tragedy as well as the nations’ disaster managers. According to a case study on hurricane Katrina, the housing sector suffered losses amounting to $67 billion, while the business community suffered $20 billion in terms of property and infrastructural damages. In order to respond to the emergency, non-governmental organizations, business community, and voluntary agencies made tremendous contributions. These included providing relief in terms of humanitarian assistance and monetary contributions. The business community estimated contributions amounted to 1 billion dollars. In addition, families, corporate sector, and community foundations made major contributions to the recovery process and response efforts. These enabled the provision of the unmet needs and humanitarian efforts to people where the efforts of the government could not reach. The National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center responded by providing accurate and timely forecast, which assisted largely in preventing further loss of life. The mechanisms developed in New Orleans, such as the levees, could not contain severe hurricanes, indicating unpreparedness of the government to deal with hurricanes of Katrina’s magnitude. In addition, the government failed to evacuate people completely from the most affected areas, causing deaths that could have been prevented. The government also delayed the reliefs causing further suffering to the affected people. The local authorities and DHS had not been in the disaster and emergency situations of Hurricane Katrina’s magnitude. The damage on the communication infrastructure hampered communication efforts and the problem was compounded due to the lack of alternative communication system. This impaired response efforts because of the uncoordinated actions by different organizations and agencies responding to the emergency. Inadequate logistics management stifled efforts of providing shelter to the affected people. The provision of medical care was also hampered due to the lack of coordination and breakdowns of the communication system.
The recovery process was ineffectively designed and implemented. Concerns were raised over the lack of leadership and uncoordinated activities and poor planning. This crippled successful recovery and caused the delayed settlement of displaced individuals. For example, there were delayed settlement procedures of more than 200,000 New Orleans residents. This was due to the lack of development of basic infrastructure such as electricity, water, telephone services, housing shortage, and basic social amenities such as health services and schools. The recovery process has been slow, and most of the residents are frustrated, since they have no access to basic social amenities and services. The recovery process has been hampered by the delayed payments by insurance companies to the massive claims of the affected people. In addition, it has been difficult to access the government programs of rebuilding homes and public infrastructure. The economic development has been slowed down, and small and large businesses have been affected by the lack of labor force. Inadequate infrastructure has also increased the cost of business operations as the cost of basic utilities, such as electricity, water, and telephone services soared. The tourism industry slowed down due to the slow return of tourists to the affected areas. However, recovery in different states has been different, as different states recorded different recovery progress. For example, in Mississippi the recovery process was smooth due to the foresighted leadership of the governor. The business was resuming normal operations generating job opportunities and providing taxes to the state.