Free Essay

Katrina: What Went Wrong?

In: Social Issues

Submitted By tokyoflyer
Words 1717
Pages 7
Monday morning, 29 August 2005, this is a day most New Orleans residents will never forget. This was the day a category 5 hurricane named Katrina made its catastrophic debut to the Gulf Coast region and killed over 1,300 people. (The White House, 2006, p. 1) After it was all said and done, the nation was shocked at the events that unfolded in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi and people were left wondering, “What went wrong?” National Geographic reported that the storm originated about a week earlier, 23 August, in the Caribbean and worked its up from the Bahamas making landfall Thursday, 25 August, in Miami. Winds at this time were 75-80 mph making it a category 1 hurricane causing some tree damage and killing two people. (Drye, 2005) The storm lost strength for a little while but once it hit the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it rapidly gained momentum and before long reached wind speeds up to 175 mph making it a category 5 hurricane. On Sunday, 28 August, New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, issued a mandatory evacuation order. Roughly 24 hrs later, the full strength of Katrina slammed into New Orleans and Biloxi. (Drye, 2005) Local and state emergency managers are responsible for coming up with a plan of action for different hazardous situations. Once a situation gets overwhelming for those levels of management, federal assistance is then requested.
Prior to Hurricane Katrina’s arrival, various local emergency management agencies (LEMAs), such as local fire, police, and emergency medical personnel who respond to all manner of incidents such as earthquakes, storms, and floods have the lead responsibility for carrying out emergency management efforts. (U.S. House of Representative, 2006, p. 45) Also, according to the report, “State emergency management agencies, reporting to their respective governors, have primary responsibility for their states’ disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery activities.” (U.S. House of Representative, 2006, p. 46) Be advised that emergency management protocols vary from state to state, but generally the governor is in charge in times of emergencies.
Some of the emergency plans that were in place prior to the arrival of Hurricane Katrina were: 1) strategically placed bottled water and meals ready-to-eat (MRE) set around the city by FEMA; 2) American Red Cross deployed personnel to provide water, hot meals, cots and clean-up kits; 3) United States Coast Guard would provide alert coverage and the respective state’s National Guard provided manpower with the mandatory evacuation and security.
Hurricane Pam was a training exercise conducted in July 2004. (U.S. House of Representative, 2006, p. 81) This FEMA funded, disaster-simulated exercise portrayed a strong category 3 hurricane (at times category 4), affecting the New Orleans area. The scenario was held at the State Emergency Operations Center in Baton Rouge for 5 days where 50 organizations from all levels of government converged. The purpose of the exercise was to help officials develop joint response plans for a catastrophic hurricane in Louisiana. (U.S. House of Representative, 2006, p. 81)
Many questions were raised about the emergency plan being made known to the populace before Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Many people were wise and evacuated on their own even before the order. The mandatory evacuation called on August 28 made no provisions to evacuate homeless, low-income, or carless individuals or sick, nor the city's elderly or infirm residents. Consequentially most of those stranded in the city were the poor, the elderly, and the sick. The governor of Louisiana did not properly deploy her National Guard in a timely fashion neither did Mayor Ray Nagin properly release transportation resources to aid in the evacuation of the city. The lack of communication systems compounded the issue of getting the message out to have New Orleans’ citizens to evacuate.
There were many lessons to be learned in the ensuing aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The major emergency planning failures that were uncovered by this disaster were in the areas of National Preparedness, Integrated Use of Military Capabilities, Communications, Logistics and Evacuations, Search and Rescue, Public Safety and Security, Public Health and Medical Support, Human Services, Mass Care and Housing, Public Communications, Critical Infrastructure and Impact Assessment, Environmental Hazards and Debris Removal, Foreign Assistance, Non-Governmental Aid, Training, Exercises, and Lessons Learned, Homeland Security Professional Development and Education, and Citizen and Community Preparedness. (The White House, 2006, p. 51) As for organizational and policy factors that led to planning failures, the report stated, “…federal response officials in the field eventually made the difficult decisions to bypass established procedures and provide assistance without waiting for appropriate requests from the states or for clear direction from Washington.” (U.S. House of Representative, 2006, p. 132) The effects of going against established procedures caused a lot of confusion amongst the different organizations and within the department itself. Another major breakdown in policy also affected law enforcement procedures. The process of deputizing federal officers as peace officers during this catastrophe proved to be more difficult than anticipated; the concern was federal law enforcement officers might find it necessary to make arrests outside of their federal jurisdiction. (U.S. House of Representative, 2006, p. 256) The report also stated, “Due to the lack of an across-the-board policy on how to deal with federal law enforcement during a state of emergency, some federal law enforcement entities were required to seek advice from their individual Office of the General Counsel on how to proceed.” (U.S. House of Representative, 2006, p. 256) Concerning healthcare, a major finding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was that most hospitals and VA medical centers emergency plans did not offer concrete guidance about if or when evacuations should take place.
A lesson learned from the Hurricane Katrina disaster that can be used to improve emergency planning for other disasters is fully integrating the National Guard and active duty military forces. (U.S. House of Representative, 2006, p. 218) As stated in the report,
“After Katrina made landfall, the NORTHCOM-led military support mission suffered many of the same planning failures, unclear lines of authority, communication breakdowns, and shortages of critical resources that were experienced by the civilian agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security.” (U.S. House of Representative, 2006)
Protocols on command and control, communication, training and logistics can be revised within the Department of Defense. More integrated training exercises can be used to further strengthen the coordinating process between the local, state and federal levels of government.
The communication capabilities were another lesson to be learned from this event. The storm took out numerous telephone poles leaving 911 services in the dark along with nearly 3 million customers. The lack of a communication plan ultimately led many available assets not to be utilized. (The White House, 2006, p. 55) A review of the current laws and policies should be reviewed and updated to address the possible situation of communication operability and inoperability. Planners need to incorporate the prominent communication organizations when updating the plan.
The federal government has taken actions to improve the emergency management planning aspect following the events of Hurricane Katrina. In 2006, the government came up with the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006. (U.S. House of Representatives: 109th Congress, 2006) According to the bill, it requires the Secretary, or administrator to develop comprehensive operational plans to respond to catastrophic incidents and provide clear standardization, guidance, and assistance to ensure a common terminology, approach, and framework for all strategic and operational planning and consideration of natural and man-made threats. (U.S. House of Representatives: 109th Congress, 2006) After reviewing the text, other aspects of the bill that aim to improve emergency planning include:
“(1) preparedness and deployment of health and medical resources; (2) operational plans for the expeditious location of missing children and family reunification; (3) development of a National Search and Rescue Plan; (4) plans to support mass evacuations; (5) plans for military support of civilian authorities under the NRP; (6) incorporation of the use of the Department of Defense (DOD), the National Air and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and commercial aircraft and satellite remotely sensed imagery to ensure timely situational awareness; (7) incorporation of coordination with and integration of support from the private sector and nongovernmental organizations during response efforts; (8) plans to allow salvage to proceed in a timely manner during a disaster; and (9) coordination and delineation of primary and supporting responsibilities by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies under the NRP's Public Works and Engineering Emergency Support Function Annex provisions for the safe handling and sorting of debris.” (U.S. House of Representatives: 109th Congress, 2006)
As you read, there were many problems before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. It was not any one organization’s fault for the miscues but a combined effort, or lack thereof, which resulted in many lives being lost and millions of dollars in resources not being utilized properly. With the different Senate/Congressional hearings, lessons learned were outlined to help highlight the errors and answer some of the questions of what went wrong. As new laws are passed, planners are rethinking their strategies to prevent anything like this from possibly happening again.

Works Cited
Drye, W. (2005, September 14). Hurricane Katrina: The Essential Time Line. Retrieved December 6, 2010, from National Geographic:
HURRICANE KATRINA. (2007, February 12). Retrieved December 6, 2010, from National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):
Perry, R. W., & Lindell, M. K. (2007). Emergency Planning. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiey & Sons, Inc.
The White House. (2006). The federal response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons learned. Retrieved December 6, 2010, from House Report 109-377:
U.S. House of Representative. (2006). A failure of initiative: Final report of the select bipartisan committee to investigate the preparation for and response to Hurricane Katrina. 109th Cong. 2nd Sess., Washington, D.C., U.S Government Printing Office.
U.S. House of Representatives: 109th Congress. (2006, August 3). Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006. Retrieved December 11, 2010, from Library of Congress:

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

Hurricane Katrina Case Study

...According to "What Went Wrong And Why" (2005), "The storm overtopped levees and floodwalls throughout southeast Louisiana and also caused the levees and floodwalls in the New Orleans area to fail or breach in more than 50 locations. Water rushed into New Orleans...

Words: 902 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Katrina Paper

...Michael Brown, the director of FEMA, was put in charge for a while until Michael Chertoff removed him from being in charge of the Katrina case. When Brown was in charge though, he constantly was requesting for additional rescue workers to help out. However he misrepresented FEMA when he lied about them knowing about Louisiana being cut off and in need of help. FEMA, throughout this recovery process, did what they could but at the end of the day this was a mess that FEMA just couldn’t handle, no civilian...

Words: 1983 - Pages: 8

Free Essay


...This is a sign of togetherness, because they each shared what they had to accomplish the goal at hand. This is what I take away from Nehemiah, work only requires the desire and those willing to help. The literary genre seems to be a historical...

Words: 738 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Final Proposal

...My final project proposal will be on Communication Crisis plan of Hurricane Katrina. I will discuss how there was failure of communication and what went wrong during this crisis. The crisis communication and management was not planned out correctly. From the outcome of the disaster, you can tell it wasn’t rehearsed to perfection. There were evacuation plans, but it didn’t cover all the publics in the state. For example, there were ill people that wasn’t able to evacuate. There were people with no means of transportation or gas to evacuate the storm. There were 112,000 people with no cars. A great number of people doubted there storm. They felt it wasn’t necessary to evacuate due to previous times when it was suppose to be a hurricane and it never hit. The first stage of a crisis is called prodromes. Which are warning signs of a crisis before it actually happens. Those great number of people ignored the signs because they never been through it. It was always a false alarm. Joel K. Bourne Jr. predicted this crisis. National Geographic Magazine published his piece a year before this disaster happened. It has been predicted by geologists for some time now. The First step of the crisis plan was the levees and flood walls built to protect New Orleans from the flood waters from Mississippi. The levees that were built wasn’t strong enough for all the different categories of hurricanes. So again, there were prodromes....

Words: 952 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

From the Bayou to the Books

...HURRICANE KATRINA: Satellite Images Confirm Aerosol Geoengineering and EM Modification of CAT-3 Storm Chemtrails The tropical depression that became Hurricane Katrina formed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005, and meteorologists were soon able to warn people in the Gulf Coast states that a major storm was on its way. By August 28, evacuations were underway across the region. That day, the National Weather Service predicted that after the storm hit, most of the [Gulf Coast] area will be uninhabitable for weeks…perhaps longer. By the time Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans early in the morning on Monday, August 29, it had already been raining heavily for hours. When the storm surge (as high as 15 to 20 feet in some places) arrived, it overwhelmed many of the city’s unstable levees and drainage canals. Water seeped through the soil underneath some levees and swept others away altogether. By 9 a.m., low-lying places like St. Charles Parish (my home parish) and the Ninth Ward were under so much water that people had to scramble to attics and rooftops for safety. Eventually, nearly 80 percent of the city was under some quantity of water. Death, destruction, and terror all wrapped up in a beautiful satellite picture. Katrina hit my home state and caused the horrific scene that was plastered on everyone’s televisions. The memory of this event made me appreciate life...

Words: 1548 - Pages: 7

Free Essay

Course Essay

...What was the most interesting course topic and why? The most interesting course topic I found was the article we read on Katrina Why Katrina’s Victims Aren’t Refugees: Musings on a “Dirty Word and the English Language Amendment. In the Katrina article I found it interesting and true how just one word can have a big impact on someone and the feeling they get from hearing the word. The categorical word used by the media for people who had to leave their home behind, was "refugee". The author showed that the “tendency to label Katrina victims as ‘refugees’ was part of a racialized discourse that, through it emphasizes on responsibility and accountability, surreptitiously excluded poor New Orleans residents from it’s public, thereby helping to “naturalize[e] social inequality”. (Masquelier) The word the author used in this article was ‘displaced person’, instead of using the word refugee. The label ‘refugee’ was an insult to the displaced people of Hurricane Katrina. The Katrina survivors felt that the word made them less, made what they went through less. It was interesting how the media played such a big role in how the rest of the world was seeing what was happening during the storm and its aftermath. The media only showed what people would watch and talk about, and made sure to show the world social stigmas. Because of what the media chose to show, the world only saw social deviance....

Words: 1269 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Research Theory

...Retrieved from This site explains what the Red Cross is trying to accomplish and how it operates. This site states what the true mission is and what is expected of the members. This site gives an insight into what the Red Cross is doing wrong. 3. Foster, R. (1950). The American Red Cross: A History. NY: Harper and Brothers. This book contains the history of the Red Cross and what the organization was meant to be and it gives a look into where the mission began to fail. 4. Gilbo, P. (1981). The American Red Cross. New York: Harper and Row. This book gives information on the Charter between the US Government and the American red Cross. This information covers the Charter and how FEMA and the Red Cross are suppose to work together in a disaster. 5. Allen, J. (2005). The Scandalous History of the Red Cross. CounterPunch: Petrolia, CA: This article describes the many different problems the Red Cross has faced especially since Hurricane Katrina and 9/11. 6. Braid, H. (2013). The American Red Cross faces Organizational Integrity Challenges. Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative University of New Mexico. Retrieved from This article discusses the challenges the Red Cross is facing...

Words: 742 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

New Orleans Fooding

...They had done a practice hurricane the season before hurricane Katrina and it was only a category 3 hurricane. That hurricane did massive amounts of damage and had over 60,000 people dead. The city officials all got together and viewed the information and even discussed it, but never did anything about it. One guy from the video said something on how New Orleans had dodged bullets in previous years on other big hurricanes. If the city knew that, then why wouldn’t they be as prepared as they could be? What really amazed me is that the natural defense that the city had in its wetlands and tree line had been demolished by putting up the levy’s and containing the river that used to flow into them. The local agencies tried to get people to evacuate the city and did have a pretty good early warning system in place, people that stayed I guess just couldn’t get out, or didn’t think that it would be that bad. The federal level tried by sending in 9 Army Corps. Engineers to monitor the situation, but they had to rely on local news and weather channels and had no resources of their own to be self sufficient during such a devastating storm. After the storm and the levy’s failed, and the power was out and there was a massive flood that had taken over the city there was no plan and mass confusion. People had stayed in their homes only to be flooded out....

Words: 536 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay


...Governmental Fumble: Hurricane Katrina Things that occur naturally such as tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes are unpreventable and are considered to be natural disasters. However, when man knowingly aids in the destructive power of naturally occurring events to inflect more damage, it is unquestionably a manmade disaster. For many years, both in the past and present, the United States has experienced some of the most devastating natural and artificial catastrophes such as The Dust Bowl of the 1930’s and the September 11 terror attack by the Al-Qaida terror network among others. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, the human factor contributed to both the deadliest and costliest hurricane to impact the city of New Orleans. A city that is known to be the birth place of Jazz and the yearly celebration of Mardi Gras has unfortunately inherited a new chain of thought as the city that went underwater. Hurricane Katrina was the third strongest land hurricane and the sixth-strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. The hurricane is approximated to have affected more than 1.5 million individuals in the states of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, which contributed to the loss of billions of dollars in damages and job losses caused by the hurricane....

Words: 2870 - Pages: 12

Premium Essay

The Case for, or Against, New Orleans

...In the CBA, I will be examining the cost of rebuilding New Orleans to pre Katrina conditions without making any additional upgrades to the levees and infrastructure. This will give me a more accurate cost model to base my recommendation on. As for the benefits I will examine the benefits of recovered losses when comparing pre Katrina data to post Katrina dat. The areas where I will be examining are tourism recovered, port operations recovered, wages recovered, spending recovered, and taxes recovered. The future value (FV) of these benefits will then be discounted to present value (PV) and compared to the cost of rebuilding to represent the net present value (NPV) of the expected amount to be gained or lost by carrying out the recovery. If the NPV is less than the cost, then rebuilding New Orleans will yield a loss and my recommendation will not favor a recovery. If the inverse is true, and the proposal will be in favor of the recovery. All calculations will based on post Katrina 2006 reports and data to give a more realistic prediction of the decision that could have been concluded given data directly after the catastrophe. Costs of Rebuilding These cost are compiled from the Department of Homeland Securities assessment of the city, found in a summary of costs by MIT students in 2010. * FEMA: $5.5 (3.5) billion * Department of Transportation (DOT): $62.6 million * U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC): $1.3 (0.8) million * U.S....

Words: 2219 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Disaster Relief Manament

...Hurricane Katrina 4 III. Natural disasters in the United States 6 IV. Earthquake and tsunami in Japan 8 V. Natural disasters in the world 9 VI. Closing 11 VII. Reference 13   I. INTRODUCTIONS The environment is always changing and the people of the United States should always be aware of what could happen to them if they are not prepared for what Mother Nature do to their surroundings with no notice. There are several types of natural disasters that can maim and destroy communities and people lives. To name a few, they are hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, earthquakes, mudslides, flooding wildfires, tsunamis and volcanoes. Hurricanes are usually formed in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico. According to the Webster Dictionary, “hurricanes are a violent, tropical, cyclonic storm of the western North Atlantic, having wind...

Words: 3320 - Pages: 14

Premium Essay


...What is this federal policy and is it better than just having each state respond to its own issues? The qualifications to receive FEMA assistance are determined by the following: the amount and type of damage (major damage and number of homes destroyed); impact on the infrastructure of affected areas or critical facilities; imminent threats to public health and safety; impacts to essential government services and functions; unique capability of Federal government; dispersion or concentration of damage; level of insurance coverage in place for homeowners and public facilities; available assistance from other (Federal, state, local, voluntary organizations); and state and local resource commitments from previous, undeclared events; and the frequency of disaster events over recent time period (FEMA, 2014). The goal of the policy is to build, sustain, and improve the capabilities to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards, not to mention, support our citizens. It was believed that Washington/Gifford had...

Words: 1120 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Communication and Crisis Paper

...Communication and Crisis Paper A crisis situation reports indicate that the water supply is contaminated with a life threatening biological agent in several towns and this department is handling the emergency crisis with this situation. Our department is handling the communication method of handling this crisis and informing the public of this threat and the steps they need to take to protect themselves and their families. Communication in this crisis will be crucial to keep the public calm and to present the information they will need. The media is a major source that our department is using to get our message out to the public. However, our office must be careful to prevent the media from creating a panic. Our department will be coordinating with the Emergency Operations Center, The State Emergency Management Center, Department of Health Services, Department of Natural Resources, state, and local police officials and the volunteer organizations. The uses of these internal departments will coordinate the information that will be release in this crisis situation. Updates from state and local police, firefighters, and the National Guard will keep this department updated on the current developments that is occurring in the affected areas. Our departments will coordinate all communications so information is correctly given to departments and news releases to the public. This will control and give this crisis situation the effective outcome and keep fear at a minimum......

Words: 1558 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

Goodbye My Angel

...My princess Izzy, I have sat over the last few days since you grew your wings trying to write this to you. It is now Saturday night and i need to do this for you. I would love to tell you that i am okay and that we are having as much fun as i am sure you are having playing with all the other angels but i wont lie to you my angel... i am a bit lost.... but i dont want you to worry i will keep my promise and i will be okay in time.... I just miss you so much!! so does your daddy.... You were a surprise baby.... when we had that ultra sound at 21 weeks and found out you were a girl i was so excited.... your dad on the other hand was worried..... the thought of having a daughter scared him.... the thought of the boys coming to the house and having to scare them off terrified him.... but the day you were born and you looked at him you stole his heart..... The first time i set eyes on you i just stared at you, you were so beautiful..... i was amazed by your beauty and i knew then you were amazing! We brought you home 24 hours later and from that day on watched you get more and more beautiful every day..... When your medical journey started when you were 1 month old you started to really show your strength... I remember sitting in the waiting room for your first and second surgeries worrying and panicking wondering if you were okay and once you came out of surgery and the medicine wore of you were smiling, you never complained or whined about the pain you just......

Words: 1668 - Pages: 7

Free Essay

Gap Analysis

...Katrina Heinz, Global Communications Chief Executive Officer, was not very sympathetic for her loyal employees or her team’s challenges of trying to make the transition easy. Heinz’s main goal is to hire in 1000 new qualified salespeople for “dirt cheap.” Global Communications has the opportunity to maintain a first-class affiliation between company and employee. Global Communications can show both current...

Words: 1999 - Pages: 8