Hurricane Katrina is known as one of the most terrifying natural disasters in USA history. Unfortunately, it has led to many financial losses, deaths of citizens, and damages. This case can serve as a great reminder of the importance of efficient emergency management. Reviewing and summarizing the actions taken during Katrina creates an opportunity to improve incident management. Making effective decisions during the Katrina emergency may require the implementation of the four management principles, which are mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.
Mitigation is the base principle of incident management, and it covers activities that aim to reduce or eliminate the impact of the occurred incident. I would definitely implement this approach before and during Katrina. First, it is essential to prepare medical assistance plan for such an emergency case. These circumstances overwhelmed the majority of local and state public health and medical resources, putting even more burden on federally deployed people. The management of chronic medical conditions in large numbers of evacuees with special health care needs, the assessment, communication, and mitigation of public health risk, and the provision of assistance to State and local health officials to quickly restore health care delivery systems and public health infrastructures were among the immediate challenges.
Second, I would emphasize the evacuation activities and dedicate more efforts to educating the citizens on how to act during the incidents. Such an approach would result in updated emergency and evacuation plans, the incident managers could provide a functional operational framework, including within regions, and establish a clear, responsible procedure for all National preparedness initiatives. To be able to quickly analyze the effects of a disaster on vital infrastructure, the Department of Homeland Security should update the National Response Plan and complete the Interim National Infrastructure Protection Plan in cooperation with the private sector (Executive Office of the President et al., 2006). In order to preserve lives and lessen the effects of the disaster on the country, we must use this information to guide Federal response and prioritizing choices as well as to help infrastructure reconstruction.
If such an approach had been taken in advance, fewer people would have been harmed during Katrina, and the people’s loss would be significantly lower. For instance, during Katrina, the residents were not evacuated fast enough, which lead to pity consequences (Government Printing Office, 2006). In addition, the Federal government should collaborate with its homeland security partners. The federal government must accomplish the following in order for the Executive Branch organizations to be structured, trained, and prepared to carry out their response roles: complete and put into practice the national preparedness objective.
The next incident management principle, which is preparedness, is responsible for the ability of an organization to respond and recover from the impacts of an incident. Our current homeland security system does not offer the essential foundation to handle the difficulties posed by cataclysmic threats in the twenty-first century. One of the approaches related to preparedness I would undertake is to emphasize the infrastructure. Four significant weaknesses in United States’ preparedness should be managed and improved during the Federal response to disasters such as Katrina. First, the procedures for unified management of the national response; second, federal government command and control structures; third, awareness of preparedness plans; and fourth, regional planning and coordination.
Next, I would coordinate an extensive range of organizations and activities, both public and private, in such a way that they can manage incidents related to catastrophes effectively. The Federal government just coordinates resources under the current response structure to satisfy the demands of local and state governments depending on their requests for assistance. However, this structure does not take into account the circumstances of a catastrophic occurrence, which include several conflicting requirements, a lack of resources, and nonexistent local governments. These restrictions turned out to be significant blocks to mobilizing Federal, State, and local resources to effectively respond to Katrina.
If the approaches that I have mentioned above were undertaken, the government would be equipped to handle disasters in their areas of responsibility. The organizations would have enough sufficient resources and capacity to respond when local and state governments are overburdened or rendered incapable by an incident that has taken catastrophic dimensions (Executive Office of the President, et al., 2006). Thus, the federal government must prepare, train, and plan in order to be able to respond to a catastrophic occurrence.
The response is another principle that manages the actions taken after the impact of an incident has taken place. An approach that I would have undertaken in this context is based on the guidance for the organizations. As the U.S. Government Printing Office emphasizes in its report, the federal government should have an action plan even for situations where the first option plan failed (Government Printing Office, 2006). For instance, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies’ command centers were exposed as having overlapping and unclear duties and responsibilities during this tragedy. The Secretary lacked a precise, up-to-date understanding of the situation that included both the facts originating from the disaster area and the ongoing response efforts of the Federal, State, and local actors.
Mission Assignment under the National Response Plan turned out to be far too cumbersome to assist in response to a disaster. Prior to taking any action, the process all too frequently demanded several time-consuming permission signatures and data processing stages, which delayed the response (Executive Office of the President et al., 2006). As a result, numerous agencies responded to missions assigned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) while also acting independently of one another, further confusing the process and raising the possibility of duplication of effort. If the governments had received more precise guidance on their duties, they would have acted in a more effective way. That means that once Katrina started, they would organize response actions, such as evacuations, faster. That would result in fewer damages and negative effects on infrastructure and people.
The recovery principle encompasses the transition from the consequences of the disaster to the ‘normal.’ We must acknowledge that NGOs are essential to response and recovery operations and will often make contributions that are more effective and efficient than those made by the federal government. That is why an approach that I would have undertaken is to include NGOs in emergency management plans and consider them important collaborators. For instance, it was helpful that many volunteer and non-profit organizations contributed to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. Unfortunately, government organizations often fail to effectively coordinate humanitarian efforts with NGOs. For instance, the government’s relief effort lacked the capacity to provide the basic operating, housing, and food requirements of the influx of volunteers. If the government improved its cooperation plans with the NGO, it would be granted more supplies, equipment, and personnel to the disaster region.
In conclusion, governmental and non-governmental organizations should learn from the experience of the Katrina emergency. This will allow us to manage such situations and implement new strategies, including the four mentioned principles. Many aspects were not taken into consideration in the past, and that is why it is vital to address those gaps in the context of preparedness, mitigation, recovery, and response. Emergency management is a process that requires precise analysis and constant improvement.
House of Representatives, Congress. (2005). H. Rept. 109-377 – A FAILURE OF INITIATIVE Final Report of the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina Report by the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina. [Government]. U.S. Government Publishing Office. Web.
United States. Executive Office of the President, Etats-Unis. Assistant to the President for homeland security, counterterrorism, Superintendent of Documents, President of the United States Staff, United States. Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, Counterterrorism, & Superintendent of Documents Staff. (2006). The federal response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons learned. Government Printing Office.