The Katrina Breakdown.
The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina may be remarked as a very important aspect to understand the relationship between federal, state, and local governments when it comes to major catastrophe. In Katrina’s case, federalism is seen as central to what was largely a government-created disaster. Numerous scientific articles are trying to offer various interpretations of what went wrong and why; however, out of all perspectives, I find Stephen Griffin’s argument most persuasive. Yes, I may agree with Martha Derthick that there were both success and failures in governmental responses to the disaster, but I also find this idea less persuasive because there were more failures than successful responses. I may agree with Marc Landy’s position that federalism was put to a difficult test that required effective decisions, speed and coordination, and I agree that some citizens were not cooperating with the mandatory evacuation orders and consequently were the ones to blame. However, Griffin’s examples of governmental failure show something valuable about the nature of federalism. First of all, he proves that federalism is not simply about the fact of the existence of federal and state governments. Federalism is also about localism. Despite being dependent for their legal authority on state governments, local governments have substantial legal and political authority. Prior to Katrina, federal disaster policy had been based formally on the idea that local governments knew local conditions best. However, one of the most unusual characteristics of Hurricane Katrina was how it blasted away the entire local government infrastructure in New Orleans. It challenged assumptions as to how the federal structure needed to operate, not just during a crisis, but also in preparing for crisis situations. It also removed the basis on which the National Response Plan was built. Second, the failure to respond to the disaster exposed one of the few real structural...
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