The federal government holds the responsibility for protecting the citizens from disasters. Emergency management refers to steps in place to safeguard the citizens from emergencies and employ recovery measures to reduce the effect of the disasters. The most important steps in emergency management are mitigation, preparedness, response, and retrieval. An effective combination of these steps reduces the consequences of the catastrophe through the provision of assistance and humanitarian help for the victims. Hurricane Andrew that occurred in the year 1992 resulted in massive losses due to the poor response plan and mitigation services employed by the State of Florida. The reaction of the government was slow, and lack of funds for recovery process made the disaster impact bigger. Finally, the efforts of the Department of Defense made the process easier. Emergency response helps the community in responding to a catastrophe through mitigation, preparedness for the disaster, response to the disaster, and recovery efforts.
Disaster mitigation process considers the vulnerability of the structures in the region. The process involves reinforcing the structures to conditions that can withstand or reduce the vulnerability. It is impossible to prevent natural disasters from occurring; however, the mitigation process seeks to reduce the effects of the disaster to make the damage to property and loss of lives minimal. The State of Florida underestimated the size of the hurricane. The preparedness was inadequate due to the previous estimate of a smaller storm. At the mitigation stage, the government should create emergency structures in regions where people can go to emergency shelters. The government also needs to avail funds to facilitate transportation of people from vulnerable regions and dangerous areas to higher grounds that are safe. For the coordination efforts to occur, the emergency teams need to have distinct duties in the response plan. Mitigation plans require allocation of responsibilities to various teams to avoid a group having lesser people while another having excess people.
The response management in Florida for Hurricane Andrew failed to put such steps in place. When the tornado hit the land, every system failed (Harper, 2005). The federal government had not allocated funds for the disaster. The available units for response to the catastrophe could not be enough due to the high demand for assistance. A failed mitigation process makes it hard for the intervention and preparedness plan to work. Apart from prevention of damages, mitigation process tries to prevent disasters caused by human beings. Therefore, mitigation is an important part of emergency management because it puts resources in place to reduce the overall effect and damage of a catastrophe. The State of Florida failed to secure a big space for coordination efforts making the mitigation process a failure. Further, the state neglected to allocate funds for the process due to the previous error in estimation of the size of the hurricane.
Preparedness in disaster management trains and assigns duties to the response teams (Broder & Tucker, 2012). The teams stay alert and wait to respond to the catastrophe. In this phase, the teams collect and deliver necessary basic needs such as water, blankets, and clothing to the centers of coordination. Most disasters disrupt power and communication channels. This phase allows the provision of other emergency communication channels. The preparedness phase requires the mobilization of professionals such as engineers to offer necessary assistance in the disaster. In Florida, the state failed in monitoring the hurricane. Watching the storm helps in identifying the amount of response required and the exact location where the hurricane hits. The misinformation on the size of Hurricane Andrew reduced the magnitude of the preparedness of the team. Failure to allocate funds meant that provision of basic needs was a challenge.
It was impossible for the victims of the disaster to get items such as blankets, clothes, or communication channels to call for help. The preparedness stage allows the federal government to ask for help from the national government for human resources. In Florida, the national government provided workforce, but it took longer for the federal government to bridge the bureaucratic steps. The state failed in coordinating the emergency teams (Haddow et al., 2006). The teams were in confusion about the course of action while the hurricane was destroying property in the state. Preparedness keeps the teams ready for the response when the disaster strikes. The confusion in the team made it impossible for the response teams to perform efficiently until the military intervened to salvage the situation.
The response phase is the opportunity to put the previous stages into practice. The response plan includes moving people from dangerous and affected areas to safe regions. Further, the medical teams use the opportunity to offer assistance to the injured people (Utter, 2016). The response part in disaster management involves feeding the people and providing them with clothing that keep them warm. The State of Florida failed in responding to the hurricane. The storm had destroyed the power lines, and the communication channels were not functional. Therefore, it was impossible for the people in the region to communicate with those outside the area and ask for help. The confusion made the allocation of duties impossible.
The military coordinating officer had to change roles frequently because of lack of alternative leadership in the response. The state had many volunteers for the rescue missions; however, poor coordination made the process very slow and inefficient. An effective response provides services to help people move to safer regions, reduce the possibilities of further injuries, and calm the situation. However, the response teams in the state failed in their duties making the situation atrocious. All the teams tasked with the responsibilities failed in serving the people due to poor preparation process that resulted in massive confusion. The confusion in the hurricane ranged from provision of funds to lack of coordination and finally, the Department of Defense stepped in to correct the situation.
The last step in emergency response is recovery. Recovery entails trying to restore the former condition of the state. Unlike events triggered by human beings, it is impossible to prevent the natural event. The best recovery process is learning from the event to create a system that will be more effective in the future. Recovery starts with the restoration of power, communication lines and the reparation of houses and other necessary facilities. Some of the facilities such as hospitals are very vital for the people. Therefore, the recovery process capitalizes on such services and other utility systems. In the State of Florida, the recovery process prioritized correcting the mistakes of the previous disaster management teams. The hurricane exposed the level of unpreparedness of the state in dealing with emergency disasters. The state had poor financial facilitation, and the mechanisms of flood monitoring were not efficient.
The inspector general composed a report made of 200 pages, which entailed the reasons behind the failure and how to avoid such confusion in future. The report outlined the duties of state institutions in responding to emergency and the bureaucratic hurdle that gave Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the authority to lead all emergency response teams (Haddow et al., 2014). The State of Florida failed to respond adequately to the disaster because of poor coordination. The people in the region did not know of the emergency services availed in the area due to lack of communication from the responsible parties. By assigning the role of disaster management to FEMA, the state made it their primary responsibility eliminating the chances for confusion. The authority made them responsible for all important decisions in the future. The military gave humanitarian help to the people of Florida and assisted them in settling back to their former lives. The people of good will and the government offered food and other essentials to the people who were in dire need.
The emergency mitigation during the time of Hurricane Andrew failed because of poor coordination. The response was very slow because the financial allocation was missing and there was no leadership to offer directions during the tragedy. The groups that volunteered for the emergency services had a hard time due to lack of communication channels to inform the people on the available help and coordinate efforts with the federal government. However, the state tried to improve the process by making FEMA the head of response and mitigation process to eliminate such confusions in the future. The Department of Defense salvaged the situation by coordinating the reaction despite the overwhelming number of people that required assistance.
Broder, J., & Tucker, E. (2012). Risk analysis and the security survey. Butterworth-Heinemann.
Haddow, G., Bullock, J., & Coppola, D. (2006). Introduction to emergency management. Elsevier/Butterworth-Heinemann.
Haddow, G., Bullock, J., & Coppola, D. (2014). Introduction to emergency management. Butterworth-Heinemann.
Harper, K. (2005). Hurricane Andrew. Facts On File.
Utter, G. (2016). Guns and contemporary society: The past, present, and future of firearms and firearm policy. Praeger.