The occurrence of hurricane Katrina came one year after the Department of Homeland Defense (DHS) had already created an emergency response plan following a series of national disasters that had caused havoc in United States. For instance, one unfortunate incidence that left the country in a state of desperation was the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the twin towers, the Pentagon building and the World Trade Center.
In fact, the creation of the was aimed at setting the right platform for dealing with emergency disasters in future, whether artificial or natural catastrophes. Nonetheless, the response level of hurricane Katrina was deemed as a big failure as documented in myriad of Congressional reports released later.
For example, a report by the House Select Committee in 2006 summarized the response to the hurricane as having lacked initiative right from the state to federal government level. Hurricane Katrina is one of the worst natural disasters ever witnessed in the history of United States owing to heavy loss in life and property.
A White House report on the response to the hurricane pointed a blaming finger on all levels of the government since there was lack of coordination. Another report by the Senate noted that the victims suffered for a longer period than necessary due to delay. The report confirmed that these failures were not just conspicuous; they were pervasive (Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, 2006).
Similar to all the prior natural calamities that have ever struck US, early warning signs were released as part of the initial plans to tackle the natural disaster. Unfortunately, the warnings were not heeded by government officials. These officials failed to take sufficient action on the forthcoming disaster.
In addition, Levees had already been built in New Orleans as part of protecting the area against such disasters. However, these structures were not strong enough to wither the strong storm. Moreover, the government had already put in place critical elements of the although the execution of the very elements delayed.
On the other hand, the military are usually ready to deal with natural disasters by assisting in the evacuation process. Further, there were voluntary agencies as well as non-governmental organisations that in responding to the disaster and recovery process (Brunsma, Overfelt & Picou, 2007).
Disaster preparedness is usually the initial step towards planning for a calamity. Before the onset of the hurricane, there was an emergency response plan readily in place. Nonetheless, it later became evident that the key players in disaster management such as administrators and politicians were not acquainted with the plan. Although standard operating procedures are critical for alleviating confusion when responding to emergencies, this element was the origin of a red tape during Hurricane Katrina.
The Federal government played its role of coordinating resources that would be needed by both the local and state governments. These localized coordination structures were further given a facelift by the National Incident Management System as well as the National Response Plan.
Nonetheless, the demanding needs of Hurricane Katrina surpassed the level of preparation of these two agencies. In addition, the resources availed by the Federal government were not adequate (Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, 2006).
This was aggravated by the dysfunctional state of the local government. in the same vein, poor understanding of the to disorderly response whereby resources at all levels namely the Federal, State and local were poorly marshaled. Lack of understanding also interfered with command and control during the recovery process.
It is obvious that there was poor command of the catastrophic event due to breakdown both in communication and coordination (Grant, Miki & Brooke, 2005). The officials at the Federal level made several unsuccessful attempts to bridge the gap by undertaking the roles supposed to be performed by both the state and local officials. Unfortunately, they could not match the increasing needs of the storm; leading to a long, strenuous and failed response to the disaster (Moynihan, 2007).
The activities of voluntary organisations, Nongovernmental Organisations and other key players should be coordinated well in advance in order to effectively handle disasters in future.
For instance, the duplication of response and recovery activities by the various recovery teams was cited as a major failure in New Orleans area. Another suggested way of improving response plan in future disasters is through the implementation of the after on those pointing out on who is responsible at the federal level going down whenever such disasters strike.
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