Essay on Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina was recorded as the eleventh storm and fifth hurricane that happened in the year 2005. The storm was a natural disaster that majorly affected the coastal region of the United States of American. The storm is believed to have originated from the Bahamas as a tropical wave. The storm affected the coastal regions of Mississippi and Louisiana. The effects of the storm were seen in that it left the New Orleans as a wasteland. The effects of the storm were also seen in it affected the communication systems in the region. The storm was seen as a communication disaster in that it led to unbelievable poor communication and response and it took place in the regional, federal, state and also the local relief agencies of the Orleans (Barnes 606). The disaster in the coastal regions and the damage to the communication was a catastrophic damage to the country and the human population at large.
In response to the storm, there were a destroyed, massive and incompatible communications. These communication problems led to delayed response to the Hurricane Katrina. Even though the storm was prepared for by some people and parties, many were unprepared and thus they experienced difficulties while dealing with the storm. Initially, the government had prepared adequately to address the storm through the command and the situational awareness but was hindered by the failure of multiple levels of government and also the loss of power. The failure of the power was a usual thing to happen in that in every natural disaster; communication breakdowns are bound to happen. During the Hurricane Katrina, some of the most valuable communication equipment which included the radio antennas, cell phones, and above ground structures were affected by the storm. Additionally, many of the public safety systems also failed during the Katrina and the fire and serving police departments also failed during the Katrina period (Brodie 1404). Furthermore, it was also seen that several failures were reported in the emergency response personnel at the time their efforts were mostly needed. Furthermore, in the Orleans, the police officers on duty tried their best to communicate using the radio channels and the back-up system, but it all resulted in message delay or even failure to the message delivery.
The communication failures were majorly associated with the poor planning. For example, the generators that had been placed on the ground became flooded. If the generators had been placed above the ground, they could not have become flooded. The other systems which ceased to function had resulted because of the loss of power, and the generators that had been damaged by the floods could not be prepared. During that time, the police could not allow the technicians near because of the police roadblocks, and it also generated into poor planning by the government. Furthermore, the backup systems that functioned during that period also became overused and thus could not sustain the demand. What is more, the cellphones along the Gulf Coats could not go through and thus the residents of New Orleans who were trapped by the flood were unable to ask for assistance from the government or their family members Eisenman (109). The internal hub, the BellSouth Internet at the New Orleans was reported to be faced with various problems at the user-connect, and thus the internet communications could not be made as well.
The majority of the challenges were seen as the failure by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) since it could have pre-position mobile tools for communications at New Orleans before the Hurricane Katrina but instead waited for the authorities to asked them to do the same which was too late at that time. Thus, the historical bureaucracy associated with it was to be blamed for the witnessed poor response to the Hurricane Katrina storm. Many people during that time criticized the FEMA since it was supposed to take a major lead during the disaster period and managed it appropriately (Barnes 609). The FEMA was criticized for lack of preparedness and the mismanagement with regards to the relief efforts to relief the victims and disaster relating to the Katrina and its aftermath effects. The FEMA had a poor and delayed response to the flooding that majorly happened in the Louisiana and Katrina. The majority of the furious and frustrated politicians who were disturbed by the images related to the storm violently criticized the FEMA for lack of seriousness to serious issues such as the Hurricane Katrina. For example, Ray Nagin the FEMA manager during that time was criticized for lack of implementing the food plan since the Katrina victims went for days without food, sanitary conditions and the security as well.
Furthermore, the FEMA evacuation process was also criticized since the process was poorly executed. Since many people in New Orleans lacked private mobility, such people were supposed to be evacuated by the FEMA through the plan that had been set before. On the other hand, the evacuation of the sick, homeless and low-income individuals was undertaken slowly, and some of them even succumbed to the poor conditions which were associated with the storm (Brodie 1405). Therefore, the poor evacuation plan and process from the FEMA side left many sick, elderly and poor people stranded in the city.
Many newspapers, radio and television news stations criticized the FEMA for not coming up with the prior deployment of its response team immediately the Katrina was reported in the affected areas. Even though there were protocols which should be followed by the FEMA before responding to any disaster, the Katrina storm was a serious storm and thus the FEMA was supposed to act immediately to save the people that were later on affected by the storm. Furthermore, the newspapers also criticized the FEMA for focusing too much on the terrorism incidents and neglecting the natural disasters like Katrina that could affect the country. Top congressional leaders like Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada made a statement to the public arguing that because FEMA miserable failed, its management was supposed to be fired, and thus a new and independent team put in place.
Even though George W. Bush responded to Katrina storm, the Washington Post is terming the response as the second-worst moment for him. In fact, his response to the storm was viewed by many as Bush's last straw for the second term of his presidency. It was seen as his failure in the last term of his presidency since his response to the Katrina did not bear any fruits at all. At the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina, the people who were affected at Orleans and the coastal region begged for the government to assist them but the government of President Bush did not assist them. Furthermore, the news stations criticized President Bush went he passed over the Orleans and the coastal region when he was coming from his vacation (Eisenman 112). President Bush was thus supposed to go to the affected regions immediately the Katrina happened. He was seen as a person who does not take into consideration the need of the black people. For example, rapper Kanye West criticized him for neglected the affected areas since they were majorly occupied by black people.
The criticism towards George Bush initial response to the Katrina was justified. Being the president at that time, Bush was to immediately visit the region and gave a way forward on how the Katrina victims could be assisted rather than going to the vacation and later on visiting the region. At that moment, Bush showed that he was an inept and uncaring president. President Obama appointed the veteran Florida, emergency manager, Craig Fugate, the current director of the FEMA. Unlike before, the current director of the FEMA is required to report to the president directly. Fugate has extensive knowledge in disaster management and has been closely working with FEMA. Furthermore, he has skills for handling disasters since he has handled eight hurricanes in the country. Some other problems within FEMA can be appropriately addressed. For example, bureaucracy within the FEMA should be removed to make it easily respond any emergency.
Lack of interoperability is dangerous to the federal and the entire government system. In the case of an emergency, such an emergency cannot be attended to immediately. For example, the lack of interoperability was the major cause for the delayed response to the Hurricane Katrina since the FEMA was faced with the bureaucracy issues and no other party could respond to the emergency without the consent of the authority (Brodie 1407). Furthermore, in the case of terror, the country might not be in the position to respond to such terror when the interoperability is lacking.
The most important lesson that was learned during the Hurricane Katrina was the proper planning. It is important to have a proper plan in place such that in case there is an emergency, it can easily be addressed. Furthermore, it is also important for the government to eliminate the bureaucracy issues in its departments to make it easy for the country to provide an immediate address to the emergency. Bureaucracy was the major cause of the delay towards the address of the Hurricane Katrina. If there was no bureaucracy being followed, it could have been possible for any person in the FEMA to immediately declare the hurricane a disaster and thus provide adequate assistance towards the victims of the hurricane. It is also important to have private emergency organizations to provide an immediate response to emergency cases. Private emergency organization are of great importance because they can evacuate the victims of any disaster without necessary asking for the authority from the government. Such organizations just evacuate the victims when they deem necessary. The private emergency organizations are also important as they provide advices to the government on how to handle emergencies.
Extra Credit (Creative Writing)
During the Hurricane Katrina, I was in Orleans, and the effects were so devastating. The happening of the Hurricane Katrina changed the conditions of the region for days. Initially, the power systems were functioning well but immediately after the Katrina happened, it let to the failure of the power. The power failure led the region to become dark and thus it was as though life was coming to an end. After the happening of the hurricane Katrina everywhere became flooded. In fact, there was nowhere to go, and we were forced to remain indoors. Lucky enough, I was in the sixth flood of the story building in Orleans. I was just staring and sympathizing the people who were being swept away by the flood on the ground flow of the building and other flat buildings. I pitied them and wished that I could reach to assist them to come to the top of our building. I could see people being killed by the storm, animals being swayed away by the storm. The roads were also impassible, and traveling was a disaster. Furthermore, the buildings were damaged by the storm and other infrastructure severely damaged by the storm as well. It was a big loss because many people died on the spot while those who did not die suffered a lot. The food was a problem to get and people could go for days without eating anything. For example, we stayed in the house for three days without taking any food. What we were only surviving with water was found in the house. I thought that was my last days on this earth but thank God we were rescued on the fourth day but in bad conditions. It was hard to see anybody because all the places were flooded. Cows which were grazing on the fields were flown away by the flood. Some of them died while the others were seriously injured by the flood. Furthermore, other properties such as cars which were parked along the streets of Orleans cities were also damaged by the flood beyond their recognition. During that time, everywhere had become dark and everything outside and inside was not visible as such.
Barnes, Michael D., et al. "Analysis of media agenda setting during and after Hurricane Katrina: Implications for emergency preparedness, disaster response, and disaster policy." American Journal of Public Health 98.4 (2008): 604-610.
Brodie, Mollyann, et al. "Experiences of Hurricane Katrina evacuees in Houston shelters: Implications for future planning." American Journal of Public Health 96.8 (2006): 1402-1408.
Eisenman, David P., et al. "Disaster planning and risk communication with vulnerable communities: lessons from Hurricane Katrina." American journal of public health 97.Supplement_1 (2007): S109-S115.
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