The initial response to the extensive disaster in the Gulf Coast area of New Orleans, resulted from Hurricane Katrina, showed high levels of ineptitude and disorganization by government officials. The world was shocked by images of distressed individuals awaiting salvage on their rooftops, and the masses of people packed together in unpardonable conditions, in the Super Dome. There was no hiding from the painful reality and obvious inaction or inability of those responsible for caring for the residents in the wake of this catastrophe.
Although, a substantial amount of the blame has been placed on FEMA, it should be understood that various aspects contributed to the circumstances in New ...view middle of the document...
As a result, FEMA was unprepared for Hurricane Katrina. After the state of emergency was declared, FEMA should have responded by working with state and local authorities to prepare for this disaster. Both FEMA and the DOD failed to order necessary supplies, such as food, water and medical supplies, to be deployed to the area.
Disasters are, by their very definition, rare events that overwhelm the capacity of standard public organizations. The relationship between the cities and county government of New Orleans was considered to be strained prior to the storm, as well as the relationship between the county and the state of Louisiana. It is believed that these strained relations contributed to the inadequate response and recovery efforts.
Many of the barriers and hurdles met during Hurricane Katrina may have been sidestepped if the training simulation “Hurricane Pam” would have been completed in 2004. The fictional tool was a weeklong scenario that was intended to help prepare New Orleans for a category 4 hurricane. With over 50 officials from state, local government, volunteer, and federal organizations participating, regrettably FEMA pulled the event by due to lack of funding (Hurricane Pam). As a result, the communications, evacuation plan, transportation, and medical issues were never properly addressed. The consequential report left many problems reported as “to be determined”. The Pam scenario precisely predicted that nearly 100,000 people would fail to leave. Of the 900 deaths in New Orleans, the majority were elderly who resided in nursing homes and never had the opportunity to evacuate. In one such nursing home, the staff fled for their lives, leaving behind thirty-four elderly residents to die in the flood.
In 2003, New Orleans was awarded a $7 million federal grant to build an emergency communication system. Had it been installed, it could have helped to avoid the many communication failures. However, without federal assistance, the local government was unable to negotiate their way through the various bids from competing communications companies.
Katrina’s storm surge caused several major breaches in the cities levee system, allowing the Mississippi river and Lake Pontchartrain to flood the city. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans was quickly submerged in water as deep as twenty feet. Despite the fact that public officials were informed of the danger days in advance, they failed to adequately prepare for the foreseen danger. A study conducted by the National Science Foundation concluded that many of the areas breached by the storm resulted from poor management of the various agencies responsible for their maintenance.
Disaster relief is commonly thought of as a form of social insurance against natural catastrophes. Government support is not necessarily the best or most reliable service provider. The National Response Plan, adopted by the Department of Homeland Security in 2004, granted...