Hurricane Katrina was categorized as the most destructive natural disaster in American history. Due to the magnitude of destruction FEMA and other local, state as well as federal agencies have been criticized for failing to respond adequately. Review of Hurricane Katrina indicated that FEMA and all the agencies were overwhelmed in terms of disaster response system and resources (Cutter & Gall, 2006). Also, the variation in emergency management and disaster response capabilities was attributed to varied levels of responds success. Due to poor responds, Hurricane Katrina left a trail of destruction of high magnitude in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Statistics indicated that Hurricane Katrina caused the death of 2 people in Alabama, 228 in Mississippi and 1,096 in Louisiana and displaced 700,000.
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The National Hurricane Center issued multiple warning as Hurricane Katrina started to build momentum in Gulf Mexico. FEMA was informed at 5:00 pm Eastern daylight time that Hurricane Katrina was heading towards New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana and landfall was expected since there were signs that Hurricane Katrina was likely to cause Category 4 storm. The initial response indicated that as soon as the Hurricane Katrina subsides, FEMA embarked on Rapid Needs Assessment, life sustaining and life saving measures targeting the most affected areas. In the most affected areas, bridges and even roads were completely destroyed leaving air and water the only available means of assessing these areas (Cutter & Gall, 2006). In addition, communication infrastructure such as satellite antennae, radio and mobile phones towers as well as telephone line were completely cutoff. As a result, emergency response was negatively affected. Nonetheless, FEMA activated and deployed 80 teams of National Disaster Management Services (NDMS). Also, the medical team from FEMA was deployed to the affected areas.
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Resource from State and Federal Governments
Since the catastrophic nature Hurricane Katrina was overwhelming, it required the joint efforts of multi-agencies to provide their support. Looking at the capabilities of local and federal agencies in term resources allocation showed that after 9/11, most of the resources were diverted to DHS. As a result, the abilities of the FEMA to handle Hurricane Katrine of that magnitude was completely affected. In addition, the federal government had shift its attention to terrorism and overlooked the natural disasters. In general, the establishment of DHS led to reduction in financial resources allocated to FEMA (Cannon, 2007).
For instance, after the formation of DHS, FEMA was required to only employ 55 personnel on full time basis. At the time of Hurricane Katrina, FEMA had only 36 personnel as compared to DHS which was required to employ between 95 to 125 personnel in fulltime basis. This negatively affected the ability of FEMA to respond adequately to the Hurricane Katrina. During financial year 2004, FEMA requested $100 million for catastrophic planning and in financial year 2005, FEMA requested $20 million to cater for catastrophic, but both requests were turn down by DHS. This clearly indicated that FEMA was constrained resource wise.
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According to the National Response Plan, National Guard are designated as the military’s first responders to any disasters. However, the small number of National Guard force that were present in Louisiana at the time of Hurricane Katrina was overwhelmed. The review indicated that the first responders were busy protecting their headquarters at Jackson Barracks as well as helping their colleagues who were unable to swim (Cutter & Gall, 2006). The strong storm also rendered medical staff, fire crew and local police incapacitated. In addition, the first responders could not respond as expected because the roads were flooded, some cut-off and 20 of their vehicles were swept away. Generally, firsts responder under estimated the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina and as a result, they were unable to adequately respond to the disaster.
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Secondary emergency services
The secondary emergency services came in to assist FEMA handled the situation but the magnitude of destruction was overwhelming. Analysis indicated that coordination between secondary emergency services, FEMA and first responders was not proper. As a result, secondary emergency services took long time to act (Cannon, 2007). Further review indicated that Bush administration was reluctant to accept foreign aid which included the secondary emergency service. The federal government and local administration under estimated the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina despite the early warning from meteorological department. Even the military took longtime to respond to Hurricane Katrina and subsequently negatively affecting the secondary emergency services.
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Private sectors play important role by assisting the federal, state and local agencies in responding to the disaster since they are part of the stakeholders in the society. Review of Hurricane Katrina indicated that private sectors responded poorly. Considering the magnitude and destructions caused by Katrina, support from the private sector was highly needed. The main hinderance to private sector responding to the Hurricane Katrina was lack of resources (Cutter & Gall, 2006). They also expected FEMA to provide framework of coordination but due to extreme condition, both government agencies and private sectors were overwhelmed. In conclusion, FEMA and other agencies did not responded to Hurricane Katrina as expected despite the early warning they received.
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