Disaster Control as it Relates to Hurricane Katrina Abstract

DISASTER CONTROL AS IT RELATES TO HURRICANE KATRINA 10

DisasterControl as it Relates to Hurricane Katrina

Abstract

Respondingto Hurricane Katrina was poor. The response was due to a failure ofmanaging different risk factors. The threats of a major hurricane tostrike New Orleans were considered for long, and there was sufficientwarning of the risk of Katrina where even emergencies were made priorto the landfall. However, responders failed in converting theinformation to a level that could show preparedness for the impendingdisaster. There was a divergence in the US intergovernmental responsesystems, which further played a role in weakening the response.Besides, the Federal Emergency Management agency (FEMA) was weakenedduring the time. Evacuation of the high large of people in an areafilled with debris and flood was a challenge since it was not timely.The aim of this paper is to discuss the positives and negatives ofthe evacuation and rescue efforts in relation to the hurricaneKatrina.

HurricaneKatrina describes a vast storm having strong winds that affected theUnited States. The natural disaster affected over 92,000 square milesand destroyed a major part of the New Orleans city. During thisdisaster, more than 1,800 individuals became casualties, while tensof thousands became homeless and left without basic supplies (Wagman,2005).Katrina developed because of connected crises that had two primarycauses. The chief cause was the hurricane, but also of lessimportance was the crumpling of the man-made levees, which were meantfor protecting the city since it was built below the sea-level.Katrina led to persistent flooding, different industrial disasters,evacuation challenges, broad lethal pollution, damage ofapproximately 90% of the critical utility networks, public safetyconcerns, and uncertainty on saving portions of the affected city(White House, 2006).

Thethreat of this disaster had been noted earlier and FEMA staff hadnamed it the ‘New Orleans scenario’. Prior to the disaster, earlywarnings concerning the storm had been communicated however, therewas uncertainty accompanying the warnings (Moynihan,2007).The uncertainty concerning the disaster made people not to considerevacuations from the city first. The uncertainty could even be seenin the National Service forecasts. Therefore, the evacuation from thecity commenced when the disaster already showed up. This presentedevacuation challenges. The following paragraphs discuss theevacuation and rescue positive and negative effects in relation tothe hurricane Katrina

EvacuationNegative Effects

Oneof the negative effects experienced during the evacuation was that itwas complex to evacuate people from the city since there were a vastnumber of individuals that desired to be evacuated at the time, butthe evacuations did not commence early. Failure of evacuations tocommence early enough made it a challenge to evacuate people sincealmost everyone wanted to move out of the danger that had alreadymanifested itself. Besides, transportation issues emerged duringevacuation, where a lot of debris made the evacuation processes aproblem. Apart from the debris, the flooded area and a huge trafficof people also made evacuation processes cumbersome. It was not easyto move in the flooded area and the vast traffic desiring to beevacuated brought transport problems since traffic could not movefast. Unclear communication concerning the accuracy of the stormoccurring was also a contributing factor that brought a problem tothe evacuation process (Moynihan,2008).People were not sure of what to expect concerning the storm since theearlier communications concerning the storm was uncertain. In casethere was certainty on the information, evacuation could have startedearly, a move that could have facilitated easy evacuation process.However, due to the uncertainty of the information provided on thehurricane, it was not possible to commence evacuation early.

Anothernegative effect experienced during the evacuation processes was thatthere trained professional responders that failed to pay attention toevacuation warnings these chose to ride out the storm instead ofevacuating. In some portions of Mississippi, fire fighters did notevacuate. These firefighters that did not evacuate prior to theKatrina had prior information concerning the storm, but failed toact. Their inaction led to losing family members and close friends.Furthermore, another negative effect experienced during theevacuation processes were the communications breakdown. There was anissue of command and control amid the ARNG and the federal military.Military commanders failed to offer a clear plan for controlling andcommanding the forces. There were at minimum two different commands,which assigned missions to helicopters during evacuation over NewOrleans, but no one understood the missions that were beingconducted.

EvacuationPositive Effects

Afterthe problems experienced in the evacuation process during thehurricane Katrina, positive effects were experienced because theevacuation problems provided a learning lesson to the responders andthe government. One of the positive effects of the evacuation is thatthe National Weather Service enhanced its capacity of issuing advancewarnings and protecting instructions in the case of hurricanes andtornados (Morris, 2010). This was a critical aspect in protecting thefuture damage of cities or portions by the hurricanes and tornados.There were no sensors that were capable of telling individuals whatthreat they were about to experience during the hurricane Katrina.However, this brought appositive effect since different sensors thathave the capacity of differentiating the various threats that areabout to be experienced have been installed. This has been a majoradvancement since through the sensors sending an alarm people canbecome aware of the kind of risk that is underway and evacuate thearea that they are in and where to go to. However, this was also metwith another challenge since people have to be trained on how torespond to different alarms indicated by sensors. These responseswere seen to improve the evacuation process during Hurricane Rita.

Besides,another positive effect experienced was ensuring that the executivebranch agencies were well organized and well equipped in performingtheir response roles. During the evacuation process in the hurricaneKatrina case, the executive branch agencies were not well organizedin dealing with the situation, which gave a challenge to theevacuation process. However, with this challenge, the executivebranch agencies such as FEMA came up with well organized frameworkconcerning how they should respond in case of another storm and theresponsibilities that they should carry out (HouseReport, 2006).In addition, during the evacuation process, there were communicationchallenges that failed to realize an efficient and fast evacuationprocess however, this was a learning lesson. The department ofhomeland security came up with a national emergency communicationstrategy that is capable of communicating to the public in case thereis a need to inform them to evacuate from a certain area (Morris,2010). This was a positive effect experienced as a result of theevacuation challenges during the hurricane Katrina.

RescueNegative Effects

Oneof the negative effects experienced during the rescue process wasthat the prolonged flooding could result in an outbreak of diseasesfor individuals that continued to live in the hurricane-affectedparts. Adding to the food poisoning and dehydration, there was apossibility for the rescue victims to face an outbreak ofcommunicable diseases such as cholera emanating from thecontamination of drinking water and food supplies in the region.Besides, there was also a concern that chemical plants and refineriesin the region might have let loose pollutants in the flooding waters.This could pose a health challenge to individuals having lungdisorders or allergies. Another negative effect experienced duringthe rescue process in the hurricane Katrina was the separation ofdifferent individuals with their loved ones. During the rescueprocess, individuals were spread to different cities. This meant thatthere was a possibility of related individuals being rescued andtaken to different towns. This was a challenge to families becausethey were usually separated from their loved ones for example, itwas possible to have a situation where kids were separated from theirparents as a result of the rescue process.

Onthe other hand, the military never planned for the integration of avast number of troops from various commands, which presented anothernegative effect on the rescue process because it became exceedinglycumbersome to maintain the accountability of the forces that were onthe ground, or that were going to arrive within a given time frame.Besides, the lack of answerability made it difficult for the missionplanners to establish the missions that had been received and theones that still required to be completed. Due to the failure ofcommunications and planning, most of the decisions became made duringthe response operations. Failure of having clarity led to havingoperations, which were not efficient as projected.

Inaddition, there was a negative effect during the rescue process.During the conduction of missions, the reserve forces worked closelywith responders from different agencies that were of all levels. Thisentailed an interagency operation since search and rescue groups fromvarious organizations all came to New Orleans to aid the groupsalready in the region. Given the size of the disaster that involvedthe hurricane Katrina, the federal government had to respond throughusing different forces, reserve forces included. Although there werea vast number of reserve forces for responding to the rescue, federallaws barred the response nearly to a point that no reserve forceswere used.

RescuePositive Effects

Oneof the positive effects experienced during the hurricane Katrina wasthe fast mobilization of 500 members by the coast reserve guards tocarry out the search and rescue operations in New Orleans. Upon theoccurrence of the hurricane Katrina, 500 members became mobilized bythe coast guards reserves to work directly with their activecounterparts for various search and rescue missions. This bolsteredthe rescue team that was involved in the search and rescue. Above5,000 coast guard reserves from different units of the country helpedin rescuing above 33,000 individuals (SenateReport, 2006).Besides, they responded to oil spills that was above nine milliongallons, restored waterways, and repaired navigational aids.Furthermore, the pilots of the coast guard helped in restoring powerlines and flying debris that aided in the rescuing of the stormvictims.

Immediatelyafter the hurricane Katrina, fixed wing aircraft comprising of theNaval Aviators crews commenced carrying out rescue missions. This wascritical since the fast action helped in saving a vast number ofindividuals that needed the much awaited assistance. Helicoptershaving navy reserve members helped in rescuing above 6,000individuals, while some other missions helped in supplying therescued individuals with ready to eat meals and water. The supply ofwater and food helped to keep the rescued individuals under a stablecondition.

Anotherpositive effect experienced during the rescue mission involving thehurricane Katrina was reconnecting families together. During therescue operation, different families were separated where childrenwere in different cities with their parents (SenateReport, 2006).However, the coordinated efforts of Microsoft, American Red Cross,and San Diego Supercomputer Center helped the reconnection offamilies these organizations created several databases that thefamily members used in reconnecting with each other. This was apositive experience since it helped family members in tracing thewhereabouts of each other (Hilarie,2005).In addition, another positive effect experienced during the rescueprocess was the establishment of contingency treatment facilities. Afew days after the hurricane Katrina, medical authorities createdcontingency treatment centers for above 10,000 individuals and plansof treating thousands more were still being established. Coordinationwith shipping companies, commercial medical suppliers, and supportservices entities ensured that emerging medical needs were met withinhours or days. Supplies served an approximate of 30 acute carecenters, and volunteers were organized around the contingencystations. This offered the rescued victims with health access, whichwas critical for the survival of the victims.

Conclusion

HurricaneKatrina involved a vast storm that had winds with high speed. Thenatural catastrophe affected over 92,000 square miles of the UnitedStates and destroyed a major part of the New Orleans city. Duringthis catastrophe, more than 1,800 individuals became casualties,while tens of thousands became homeless and left without basicsupplies. The chief reason leading to the development of the was thehurricane, but also of less importance was the crumpling of theman-made levees, which were meant for protecting the city since itwas built below the sea-level. It is argued that people had notevacuated the area under the attack of the hurricane since theinformation concerning the occurrence of the hurricane Katrinacontained uncertainties. For instance, the national Weather systemshad uncertainties concerning the area that the hurricane could attackand the exact time of attack. There were different challenges thatwere met during the rescue and evacuation process after theoccurrence of the hurricane Katrina. One of the positive effectsexperienced during the rescue process is that there were a vastnumber of rescue teams that could assist in the supply of food andwater to the rescued victims. Besides, there were different healthfacilities that had been established to take care of the rescuedvictims that could develop health problems. A positive effect of theevacuation is that the National Weather Service enhanced its capacityof issuing advance warnings and protecting instructions in the caseof hurricanes and tornados. This was a critical aspect in protectingthe future damage of cities or portions by the hurricanes andtornados.

References

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