Hurricane Katrina Response
Unit 4 Assignment
January 7th, 2013
The emergency responders that responded to Hurricane Katrina saved thousands of lives and hundreds of thousands of dollars in property. These men and women brought hope to a region devastated by one of the worst disasters in the history of the United States. However, the response to Hurricane Katrina was unsatisfactory by most people’s standards. This meager response greatly overshadowed the high-quality work that the emergency responders performed. The inadequate response can be attributed to each of the four different elements of an effective emergency response.
To begin with, the initial response from local emergency responders showed signs of weakness from the beginning. Almost immediately command and control of the situation was inadequate. Command and control was lost for a variety of reasons. The report on Hurricane Katrina stated that lack of communication, situational awareness, funding, training, and personal impaired command and control. (A failure of, 2006) This impaired command and control delayed many of the relief efforts.
Several news articles made local responders into public enemies. One example reads “When the cops turn into the bad guys—the New Orleans Police Department hits its nadir”. (Mulrine 2005) That is very harsh words for a news headline to use. This news article is an eye opener about the struggles of the New Orleans Police Department. 249 officers were being investigated for abandoning their post during Hurricane Katrina (Mulrine 2005) However, 249 is only fraction of all of the responders that helped out in this event.
The response from state and federal resources also had positive impact on the overall mission. However, that positive impact was greatly overshadowed by negative controversy. Command and control was another major hurdle at this level. Communication was a leading cause of failure also. Even with all of those failures, one of the largest failures happened prior to Hurricane Katrina making landfall.
A year before Hurricane Katrina formed, Hurricane Pam was making headlines in the New Orleans area. Hurricane Pam was described by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as; "Hurricane Pam brought sustained winds of 120 mph, up to 20 inches of rain in parts of southeast Louisiana and storm surge that topped levees in the New Orleans area. More than one million residents evacuated and Hurricane Pam destroyed 500,000-600,000 buildings.” ("Hurricane Pam exercise," 2004) Hurricane Pam didn’t grab as much national attention because it was only a training exercise. Although Hurricane Pam was only a training exercise, it showed weaknesses in the response plans for the region.
Hurricane Pam was almost a mirror image of Hurricane Katrina. The problem with Hurricane Pam is that the State and Local governments did not follow up on any of the issues. All of the issues that uncovered by the Hurricane Pam exercise, were considered major problems for the response to Hurricane Katrina.
Secondary emergency resource had a hard, almost impossible, time communicating. Several bulletins in the Hurricane Katrina report used the word "joint". In almost all of the bulletins that used the word "joint", the word "lacked" was also used. Time and time again objectives that required joint resources lacked in prior training, communications, or coordination. (A failure of, 2006)
Charitable organizations and other private sector organizations were very disorganized and ill-prepared for this large of an event. Their logistics were not capable for working in such a vast region. The report on Hurricane Katrina stated, "Contributions by charitable organizations assisted many in need, but the American Red Cross and others faced challenges due to the size of the mission, inadequate logistics capacity, and a disorganized shelter process." (A failure of, 2006) This is unfortunate that these willing organizations were not used to...
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