Hurricane Katrina is one of the most ravaging disasters in the America’s History (Townsend 4). The extent of destruction, which was brought by the hurricane in the form of a catastrophic flood and a powerful storm, was beyond that of any major disaster that has been experienced in the country. The repercussions of the Hurricane were felt even before the storm could reach the coastal area of San Francisco (Townsend 5). At the Gulf of Mexico, the hurricane had destroyed energy and infrastructure system, thereby forcing an immediate evacuation of almost all the 819 manned offshore oil plants. The same compromised of the oil production capacity by around 75%.
When it reached mainland the winds of the Hurricane were so strong that they left ferocious damages to businesses, property, and homes several miles inland. Several Levees failed along the Coast of Mississippi as they were overwhelmed by the storm leading to massive flooding which greatly destroyed the city of New Orleans (Townsend 8). The effects of the Hurricane were widespread such that they went beyond New Orleans into other parts such as Louisiana, Alabama, Biloxi and Mississippi. The geographic coverage of the disaster was wide such that response effort could not be easy and the response teams and personnel were seriously overstretched.
Unlike the ordinary disasters which cover a specific geographical area, Hurricane Katrina’s coverage was geographically expansive. The extent of damage could not be handled with the usual federal and state disaster management plans, as they could not accommodate simultaneous and widespread disaster (Gomez & Matthew 12). Each affected city and town had its own unique needs and this could not be met by the established plans. The facilities and property of public safety agencies were damaged by the storm such that they became non-operational, thereby making rescue mission almost an impossibility (Widmer 34). The communication infrastructure was damaged and there were no emergency communication systems that could be used to coordinate the emergency rescue activities.
The flooding from the hurricane blocked access to most police and fire response centers thereby impeding rescue operations. The level of medical resources that was required within the coastal regions was s a high that the normal resources that had been set aside by the state and federal government could not suffice (Widmer 36). It was not easy to provide medical support, as there were no systems in place to help identify those who had been injured. Several evacuees also had various health conditions that could not be properly addressed amidst the rescue operation.
Following the 911 disaster, the federal government had instituted various disaster response programs. However, the budget that the government had set aside for disaster response could not suffice the rescue operations during the aftermath of Hurricane Catrina (Gomez & Matthew, 12). It was also established that despite putting in pace rescue plans and program, most of the disaster response personnel had only been given basic training and this inhibited their ability to fully handle the situation (Welter 9). Many people need medical attention to prevent further loss of life. As a strategic move, the Federal Public Health Emergency of the Gulf Coast region declared an emergency (Berggren & Tyler 17). This resulted in wavering of programs such as the state children insurance program and Medicare to avail the resources for rescue operations.
Various lessons had to be learned from the Hurricane Catrina disaster. One of the lessons is that the current system of Homeland security is not a match for the 21st-century disasters. However, it is highly unlikely for any response framework to adequately anticipate disasters. Another lesson is that there should be unified and interstate management of disaster response programs. In addition, the federal and state governments should ensure adequate coordination across all public medical and health support programs.
Berggren, Ruth E., and Tyler J. Curiel. “After the storm—health care infrastructure in post-Katrina New Orleans.” New England Journal of Medicine 354.15 (2006): 1549-1552.
Gomez, Brad T., and J. Matthew Wilson. “Political sophistication and attributions of blame in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.” Publius: The Journal of Federalism 38.4 (2008): 633-650.
Townsend, Frances Fragos. “The federal response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons learned.” Washington, DC: The White House (2006).
Welter, Gregory, et al. “Cross-Sector Emergency Planning for Water Providers and Healthcare Facilities.” American Water Works Association.Journal 102.1 (2010): 68, 78, and 10. ProQuest. Web. 13 Sep. 2017.
Widmer, Lori. “Bridging the Gap between Ins.” Risk Management 60.1 (2013): 34-7. ProQuest. Web. 13 Sep. 2017.