Hurricane Katrina

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Mike Mulally

In 2005 Hurricane Katrina swept through the city of New Orleans and destroyed the lives of thousands. Katrina was one of the largest hurricanes and natural disasters in the history of the United States (Wikipedia, 2009). While most of the casualties’ occurred during the actual storm, still a many took place days after, and were do to the fact that the local, state, and national government were slow to respond. This slow response was due to the nature of federalism. I believe Americans got a glimpse at how federalism and bureaucracy have flaws. These imperfections will be discussed in the pages below.

The PBS documentary “The Storm,” depicts the destruction Hurricane Katrina caused, as well as what went wrong with the evacuation and rescue of New Orleans residents. Local, state, and national government officials were interviewed, such as New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, New Orleans governor Kathleen Blanco, and FEMA Director Michael Brown. Each official gave his or her version of why events happened the way they did. Some of the their accounts contradicted each other. I believe everyone was just looking out for him or herself, trying to save face. This seems to be a common problem in American politics. I will next explore how federalisms can be a inconvenience in a situation such as a natural disaster.

Federalism by definition “is a system in which governmental powers are divided between a central government and smaller units, like states”(Greenberg & Page, 2009, Ch. 3). The officials at all levels of the government were somehow confused during Katrina on who exactly was in charge. “Was it New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, FEMA Director Michael Brown, was it President Bush?” (Marcela, 2005). There was also a lack of communication between the different levels of government, which, as was talked about in class, is an obvious downside or barrier to federalism (Oxendine, 2009). In a situation like a natural disaster,...
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