According to Simpson and Christensen (1997), human activities leading to weather and climate change are causing rapid changes in the environment. Thus the constant changes compelled nature to search for equilibrium. Sadly, many people are vulnerable to harmful natural retaliations, including disasters. Without the help of their states, humanity must suffer the disasters. Inadequate humanitarian planning, unresponsible government institutions, weak organizational standards and inadequate leadership are the responsibility of ineffective organs for disaster management. With reference to the 2005 natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina that struck the Gulf Coast of the United States, this paper looks into the National Guidance for Hurricane Katrina that had many flaws regarding preparation. As a nation, there were many agencies involved in the preparation, execution, and recovery efforts of Hurricane Katrina. The National Guidance for Hurricane Katrina was a partial fail causing many organizations to revamp their policies and procedures.
Critical Challenges of Preparing Nationally
Incident management during natural disasters requires strong coordination from all organizations. The government has to facilitate the various levels of synchronization to ensure that the needs of vulnerable citizens affected by the disaster crisis are quickly addressed through working together as a team to achieve a common goal of saving lives and property. Unfortunately, as reported by Philips (2017), while highlighting the seven learned lessons from Hurricane Katrina, critical challenges of national preparedness that lead to loss of over 1800 lives could have been avoided through the following actions. Coordinating the various organizations to have paper works done in advance to eliminate needless delays and foster immediate clearance for access to the disaster-affected regions. Federals and locals currently go through some training to ensure they all read response plans from the same page in the case called upon to during emergencies. The approach ensures that every involved participant understands what is expected of him or her at such times. Emergency supply agencies and nursing facilities should always be adequately funded and sufficiently equipped.
The National Response Plan’s Mission proved to be very challenging when dealing with supporting organizations. The federal’s report filed before President George Bush in 2006 reveals that the plan, as envisaged in 2003, fell short of the desired outcome. Albeit seamlessly coordinated efforts for rescue, the disaster commanded an extraordinary national coordination from all levels of organizations including the federal state, local, private sector, foreign countries, religious and charity organizations which expounded the plans’ responsibilities beyond the projected scope (Townsend, 2006). Fortunately, it created learning opportunities where the lessons have been used to reexamine the organization processes and resources to accommodate as many supporting organizations as possible for the effective response to the catastrophes.
The National headquarters displayed a lack of coordination at all levels. According to Tkacz (2006), the National Headquarters failed its responsibilities to ensure that all levels worked together in unity due to inefficient communication systems as well as having a confused structure to guide the operations of the organizations. Many of them during the disaster as reported took actions on the rescue mission on their own commands. Nevertheless, the agencies while operating on their own were confronted with the need to act on their own instructions while at the same time challenged to accomplish the headquarters’ assignments. Lessons learned from the National headquarters failure lead to the development of proactive measures that are yet to be implemented.
Utilization of Combined Military Capabilities
The Department of Defense displayed the ability to play a vital role when dealing with natural disasters. Tkacz (2006), while highlighting the importance of the military in the domestic emergencies response, noted that the military personnel performed skillfully under the most unprecedented disaster. The military managed to help rescue many of the victims of the disaster despite the poor coordination of every level of the government. Consequently, it became a recommendation that the Congress through evaluation considers expanding arms of the executive to permit full use of United States military resource to respond to natural disasters.
Military action to mitigate the results of Hurricane Katrina presented diverse challenges during the disaster. Unlike other organizations that faced unnecessary delays caused by paper works as well as the poor communication channels that eventually slowed down their execution processes, the military operated skillfully. However, acting on their own authorities interfered with rescue and evacuation procedures of other organizations (Wombwell, 2011). The overall impact was reduced and slowed operations of other organizations considering that the military was used to harder situations and had been well trained to counter different rescue scenarios.
Negative impact on the support efforts due to opposite commands for active military and the National Guard. As informed by Tkcaz (2006), the military and National Guard operated on different active instructions that made varying evacuation and response orders. For example, while Louisiana National Guard troops had evacuated their headquarters to the Superdome; they could not immediately reach the affected region due to nonexistent communication. It is very unfortunate that they had to wait for two days for an official communication. When they finally acted on their own guidelines some of them diverted to looting homes and businesses, thereby, interfering with efforts of other agencies whose only intent was to save lives as well as properties.
Non-Governmental Organizations Played a Vital Role during Hurricane Katrina
NGOs are usually the quickest means of providing local relief since many of them are established primarily to protect human rights. The organizations majorly receive funds from well-wishers and charitable organizations for the primary aim of protecting human lives, offer and fight for humans to have equitable access to basic human (Townsend, 2006). The aforementioned concerns necessitated the prompt response to the disaster-affected area while the government agencies and other organizations were still in wait of clearances.
The non-governmental organization’s fundamental roles during the disaster were imperative in medical aspects, evacuation, and relocation of the victims. They provided medical care to the victims who had been injured, food for the affected persons after their rescue, clothing, and housing in camps that later housed the victims. It is for the aforementioned essential roles that Townsend (2006) highlights in his report that it became a recommendation that NGOs should be engaged in various planning processes, credentials of the personnel and accord the necessary support to enable the joint response.
There should be a better plan for non-governmental participation during natural disasters. The federal government upon realization of the importance of NGOs made proposal that sought to integrate volunteers as well as the NGOs to be facilitated to become broader national emergency responses (Townsend, 2006).
In conclusion, the Hurricane Katrina adversely affected the U.S. citizens who occupied the Gulf Coast. The effects, challenges, and lessons learned from the disaster have necessitated the reexamination of the National Guidance to emergency and disaster responses. Governmental, non-governmental organizations, and volunteer groups have been integrated into the new proactive emergency and disaster response plans to ensure quick responses that effectively provide help and support for disaster victims.
Philips, D. (2017). Seven hard lessons federal responders to Harvey learned from Katrina. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/us/hurricane-harvey-katrina-federal-responders.html
Simpson, R.D., & Christensen, N.L. (1997). Ecosystem function & human activities: Reconciling economics and ecology. Boston, MA: Springer US.
Tkacz, S.R. (2006). In Katrina’s wake: Rethinking the military’s role in domestic emergencies. William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, 15(1), 301. http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1138&context=wmborj
Townsend, F.F. (2006). The federal response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons learned. Washington, DC: The White House.
Wombwell, J.A. (2011). Army support during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Collingdale, PA: DIANE Publishing.