Hurricane Katrina Essay

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Many countries that face the catastrophes today need the relief assistance particularly in the floods and the devastation of the earthquakes. The countries, particularly those undergoing difficult transitions, lack the public and private institutions and infrastructure necessary to meet the challenges posed by complex humanitarian emergencies need a collaborated effort to overcome the effects of the devastations. The requirement is to identify the need of a joint effort by the organizations and political stability is required to take timely actions.

The disaster relief efforts are also to be identified which are to be continued to support developing and transitional states in a unified operational concept and the Disaster Prevention and Disaster Response cooperative initiatives. (Anna, 2005) The Japan for example experiences hundreds of seismic events annually; tropical cyclones (typhoons) are so frequent they are numbered and not named; and heavy rains accompanying typhoons often result in devastating mudslides that annually claim many lives. Although Japan seems to be well prepared to cope with natural disasters.

Organizations with emergency response duties including fire, medical, police, environmental, etc. are professional and well equipped. (NPR, 2005) This expanded role of agencies in a collaborated disaster relief can be further defined to ensure the availability of technical competence in order to make their participation meaningful. The local agencies and community groups should not be underutilized and undermined by relief organizations. The knowledge, expertise and ability to communicate with local people can be invaluable for humanitarian relief programmers.

The challenge for international agencies and NGOs is to assure, wherever possible and useful, the appropriate inclusion and collaboration of the local agencies into the system. Prior identification of local civil possible partners in disaster-prone countries and training of the required staff is one way to prepare for unexpected crisis. In some countries, local agencies and community groups exist with high levels of competence but may require outside technical and logistic support.

In the United States, the Federal Response Plan describes how the federal government will assist the state and local governments when a major disaster or emergency overwhelms their ability to respond effectively (LeClaire, 2005). The plan assigns federal agency responsibility for twelve Emergency Support Functions. These cover the world of disaster response from transportation, public works and engineering, mass care, food energy and those to those functions that are vital to meet the challenges of the disasters.

A few weeks ago, Hurricane Katrina, a category 5 hurricane, stormed the Gulf coast of the USA, affecting an area as large as the UK. Katrina completely destroyed of individuals. New Orleans is a major American city, with a devastated and evacuated exercise, with a fictitious category 3 hurricane named Pam, predicted the scenario accurately,1 As we impotently watched television, the disaster unfolded. The hospital scenes of combined internal and external disasters already described in Houston2 repeated prevent them.

(Television Week, 2005) electricity, water, communication, and other vital services; Local and national leaders underestimated the storm and failed to the size of the tragedy in human lives and future ecological repercussions. Katrina left the affected region teams, evidence of complete lack of preparedness with insufficient immediately available physical and human resources, health-care systems incapacitated, urban anarchy, despicable crimes, while the world criticized American leaders and emergency organizations. Millions of jobs have been lost to the storm.

New Orleans largest employer, Tulane University, hopes to reopen to students for the spring semester. The casino barges that helped revitalize the Mississippi coast are no more. Right now, only insurance agents and construction workers seem to have guaranteed employment in the storm-damaged areas. Disasters and Urban Renewal Monitoring of field activities is always difficult without the setting of objectives and standards for joint relief actions. Minimum operational goals should be defined for performance evaluation.

Goal setting would also bring into focus the impact of the joint relief on the beneficiaries, both for acute and chronic disasters. Co-ordination and communication are the central point for the success of a joint disaster relief operation. In disaster situations, the joint and rapid operational decisions within a political and media environment can be very vital (WaterWorld, 2005). A rapid assessment of needs following a disaster is always a clearly and critical aspect of effective humanitarian action.

The local Civil Hospital and other installation medical treatment facilities can have agreements with local hospitals covering certain medical procedures and emergencies on. These agreements can be extended to post disaster emergency care also. It is vital that a Manual should be developed as a Coordinating Manual for Disaster Relief Operations to provide basic coordination procedures between different agencies. There are an increasing number of disasters with a conflict dimension.

The areas of further development in the field of collaborated disaster relief operation can be areas of research that can be proposed as having immediate utility to field operations. Disasters have security as well as other dimensions. After Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans the rest of the country became aware of the citys extreme poverty. This however, is not a new issue for the city of New Orleans. It was an obvious demonstration of how our country needs to step up its emergency relief effort to respond faster to these situations.

But, was it a mistake they did not respond immediately? This is a question that is recently up for debate and we have decided to look deeper into. 67. 3% of the cities population is African American (68% of whom are in poverty) compared to the 28. 1% of whites. (2000 Census) It is interesting to compare the response to September 11, 2001 to the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina. The response the terrorist attacks in New York, whose population is almost the reverse of New Orleans 67. 9% White and 15. 9% African American (NY Census 2000), was immediate.

It is amazing that New Orleans had days to prepare for Hurricane Katrina and they were well aware of its potential to destroy the city- however it never occurred to them to make everyone aware of the destruction this hurricane could cause. Through the Hurricane Pam simulation, scientists knew the level of damage that was going to be caused and knew that it would take at least 72 hours to evacuate before the hurricane made landfall. New Orleans had an evacuation plan that they poorly enforced when it came time to really implement it.

Many valuable resources that could have saved lives went unused such as Amtrak trains evacuating valuable equipment from the area and offering to take several hundred passengers along with them. Lack of transportation was a major reason many people died. A large percentage of the people in poverty did not have their own means of transportation to get out of the city and could have put these offered resources to good use. It is unfortunate that these people were basically ignored when it came to the rescue effort.

I feel that Louisiana Governor Blanco and New Orleans mayor Nagin could have made much better decisions when it came to evacuating the city that could have potentially saved thousands of lives. They let many resources go wasted and the poor decisions made by these people cannot be taken back. People will always be attracted to live near the shore, which leads to serious problems when evacuation is required. No matter the administration, Hurricane Katrina would still have had a devastating impact on the citizens and landscape of New Orleans. However, many lives would have been spared were it not for the mistakes of President Bush, Gov.

Blanco, Mayor Nagin, and ex-FEMA director Michael Brown, in their unsuccessful attempts to contain the damage. The act of carrying out a complete mandatory evacuation is where most administrative mistakes were made. When officials made the order for evacuation, they ignored the fact that New Orleans has a poverty rate of 38 %(Wikipedia 4), one of the highest in the country. In addition to this, they did not account for the 120,000 people in New Orleans who were without transportation, which led to chaos after the order was given for a mandatory evacuation.

Individuals were expected to find their own way out of the city, and due to an inadequate evacuation plan, thousands were left stranded in the city to survive on their own, most of which were poor, elderly, or sick(Wikipedia 4). New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, realizing the threat Katrina posed to his city, was the first to call for a full evacuation. He pleaded with Gov. Blanco to call for a mandatory evacuation, but Blanco was reluctant and decided to take 24 hours to make the decision, a delay that the people of New Orleans could not afford.

Had this delay not occurred, there would have been adequate time to prepare mass public transportation of evacuees. Mayor Nagin was enraged by the governments reluctance to aid, and further expedited the evacuation process. Nagin publicly criticized the federal involvement in the evacuation, primarily attacking their failure to quickly provide buses. This lack of communication between city, state, and federal officials continues, and occurs throughout the disasters response and recovery efforts.

Criticism of local and national response to the hurricane is widespread in the media. Local officials complain just days after the disaster about the lack visible presence of troops and FEMA. The presidential response to the hurricane was embarrassing. The day Katrina hit, Bush was at a ceremony in California, and did not break from his vacation until the next Wednesday, which left those affected by the hurricane with a feeling of abandonment. President Bush is also responsible for appointing an unqualified lawyer, Brown, to be the director of FEMA.

Browns most critical mistake was his urging of all fire and emergency services departments not to respond to the counties and states affected by Hurricane Katrina without being requested and lawfully dispatched by state and local authorities(Wikipedia 8). This caused a serious clash between state, local, and federal governments, resulting in the loss of tons of critical aid materials. Having never dealt with crisis and natural disaster relief, Brown continued to inhibit the reconstructive and rescue efforts, resulting in many fatalities that could have been prevented had a more qualified individual been in the position.

Similar delaying acts were performed by Vice President Dick Cheney. The day after the hurricane, Cheney ordered workers of the power company to divert power crews, who, at the time were restoring power to local hospitals, to substations that control the diesel fuel and gasoline flow from Texas to the northeast. The workers upsettingly questioned this diversion of labor and were told to perform it anyway. Cheney did this in an attempt to avoid fuel price gouging, however it proved to be unsuccessful, and there was an enormous spike in fuel costs following the hurricane. This graph, and attached data sheet show this dramatic increase:

This action reaffirms the perceived attitude of unreceptiveness displayed by the government and authorities toward the victims of Katrina during the hurricanes relief effort. It is an undeniable fact that a category five hurricane will have devastating effects, no matter where it makes landfall. Due to the citys cultural and racial diversity, geographical structure, and inflated poverty, it was clear that Katrina was going to hit fast and hard. Just as predicted by weather forecasters, the hurricane quickly flooded the city and those who attempted to ride the storm out perished.

Unfortunately, the governments policies implemented to help did not come as quickly, and as a result thousands of fatalities that could have been avoided were not. Three places in your home that are usually damaged by hurricanes are the roof, windows, doors, and there are things that can be done to strengthen these areas to minimize damage. Firstly investing in a stronger roof by placing more beams and securing the trusses by placing brasses to strengthen the roof structure, to protect your windows and doors the simplest effective method is by installing storms shutters which are basically thick boards of wood coving windows and doors.

When it comes to prevention with hurricanes of a category 4 nature governments should have emergency plans in place, George Bush was criticized in the handling of hurricane Katrina, it even sparked of arguments that New Orleans was neglected due to its poverty stricken black communities. Although warnings were in place 24 hours before the hurricane hit and there was time for evacuation, a lack of services was provided. Although in the following hurricane Rita, The US government was quick to act while sending hundreds of busses to evacuate cities.

Some officials in high positions were accused of a good-riddance insensitivity toward the export of the citys poverty and accompanying social ills. On a more positive note, many planners and scholars have called for the development of mechanisms that can accommodate the displaced poor population, who should be encouraged to return. The storm may have created an opportunity to address the issue of poverty and land use in a way that is much smarter than previous approaches (Cutter and others 2006). Racial and Economy Perspectives

A major question affecting the future cultural and racial geography of New Orleans is how much of the African American population will return to the city. About two-thirds of Orleans Parish was African American before the storm; now the percentage is generally assumed to be much lower, although nobody really knows by how much. Half is a popularly held local presumption, but I have found no official figures to support it; data are difficult to come by. Will the loss of African Americans be permanent?

If so, what will the cultural and racial imprint of the city be? What will its political geography look like if a large and reliably Democratic voting block disappears? Mayor Ray Nagin was clearly alarmed by the possibility of a permanent loss of the African American population when he steadfastly affirmed that displaced African Americans would return to a rebuilt city and that New Orleans would be chocolate at the end of the day. ¦ This city will be a majority African American city. Its the way God wants it to be. ¦ You cant have it no other way.

It wouldnt be New Orleans (Pope 2006, 1). Part of the mayors angst arose from concern that a major influx of Hispanic workers to help rebuild the city, and the possibility that many in-migrants might stay permanently, would potentially alter the cultural and political balance of power in New Orleans. Although much of the storms face was poor and African American, in the final analysis Katrina was no respecter of class and race. One of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in New Orleans, Lakeview, is mainly Caucasian and middle-to-high income.

New Orleans East, which some observers argue should never be rebuilt, is a suburb populated by a growing African American middle class. Venetian Isles and south Slidell contain some of the most desirable waterfront properties in the metropolitan area, many of which were adorned with beached sailboats after the storm. Meghan Stromberg observed that Katrinas obvious disregard for areas of wealth and privilege may work in favor of the citys recovery: Homeowners there have greater resources to rebuild sooner (Stromberg 2006).

Of great concern is whether people with the technical and entrepreneurial skills needed by a rebuilding city will return. Unfortunately, these skills are often in high demand elsewhere, so people may be enticed to stay in their adopted homes. Mark Drennen, head of Greater New Orleans Inc. , a public-private partnership whose mission is to spearhead economic development in the New Orleans region, commented that this prospect is a huge concern. It occupies almost every meeting Im in all day long (Mowbray 2005).

The longer companies put off returning to New Orleans, the more likely it is that they and their employees will not come back. On the bright side, there is always the red-beans-and-rice effectthe soul and culture of New Orleansthat keeps the natives coming back, even in the face of better economic opportunities elsewhere. Some commentators also speculate that there may be an influx of risk takers who spy opportunity in the rebuilding of New Orleans, giving the city a flesh jolt of people with entrepreneurial skills (Mowbray 2005). The absence of workers of all types is already being felt.

Estimates that the Gulf Coast currently lacks 150,000 construction and maintenance workers have prompted the Business Roundtable, a Washington-based association of large-company chief executive officers, to develop a plan to recruit and train 20,000 new construction workers for the region (Sayre 2006). Accompanying the departure of the citys poor population was its supply of minimum-wage workers. Fast-food and convenience outlets are especially desperate for employees, to the point that one major hamburger chain is offering a bonus to new hires of $500 per month; other chains are advertising entry wage rates in excess of $9 per hour.

Plumbers, electricians, and other tradespeople are in extremely short supply, partly because many of them never returned after evacuating and partly as a result of the huge surge in demand. The most common sign at business entrances today is Now Hiring. In a sense, future demography is destiny for New Orleans, not only in terms of racial and cultural makeup but also with respect to economic vitality (Frey 2005). Its cultural geography will be shaped by who comes back and who does not and by as yet unknown new migrants to the city.

Conclusion The immensity of the disaster and the long rebuilding process will offer abundant research opportunities for geographers. The new footprint of the New Orleans metropolitan area will provide intriguing areas of study for planners as well as for economic, urban, and cultural geographers. Along the same lines, population geographers will want to track the status of the great New Orleans Diaspora. Of considerable interest to researchers will be the geography of debris and the environmental impact of millions of cubic yards of waste.

Biogeographers will have an interest in the disruption of bird and animal habitats; and of course physical and environmental geographers will find a renewed impetus to continue their examination of the environmental risks associated with eroding coastlines. Hurricane Katrina laid bare New Orleans environmental vulnerabilities, social ills, and policy deficiencies. At the same time, the city that everybody knew before the storm was not destroyed and is slowly coming back.

Already tourists have returned to the French Quarter, with its raucous good times; and the convention industry is regaining its footing. (If Katrina was Gods attempt to punish the city for its night life, it failed. ) Gradually, trust is being placed in a restored levee system. A new normal is emerging, unfortunately in some cases eerily reminiscent of the old normal. Only time will tell if the new New Orleans has learned its lessons from Katrina, or if sentimentality for the old New Orleans will set the city up for a repeat disaster.

One can hope that future scholars will not worry again about how people manage to survive in such an unnatural and impossible city. As a hurricane can never actually be stopped or destroyed prevention is a little more vague its more of damage prevention rather than hurricane prevention. Although there are scientist researching in possible ways to lower storm intensity some of which include a substance that absorbs large amounts of water with small amounts of the substance being used up the idea is simple but somewhat impractical.

In Conclusion, with todays modern equipment we can predict and perceive a hurricanes power easily but it is nearly impossible to stop a hurricane, so prevention needs to be researched more, if any lesson was learnt from Katrina it is this. Many of the people included in the Diaspora and most visibly affected by the storm were poor and members of minorities, as for example in the hard-hit Lower Ninth Ward. They were among the thousands initially stranded, and then bused to out-of-town shelters.

After Katrina an avalanche of media accounts and academic articles appeared on how the storm laid bare the environmentally linked economic and racial inequities within New Orleans, inequities with a long history.

References

Hurricane Katrina. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 22 July 2004, 10:55 UTC May03, 2007 . Storm Surge. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 22 July 2004, 10:55 UTC May03, 2007 . Anna Badkhen. Hurricane Katrina: Relief Effort / Response Like Second Disaster; San Francisco Chronicle (CA), 09/11/2005

Congress Reacts to Hurricane Katrina Disaster. Water World, Oct2005, Vol. 21 Issue 10, p8-9, 2p Cutter, S. L. , C. T. Emrich, J. T. Mitchell, B. J. Boruff, M. Gall, and others. 2006. The Long Road Home. Environment 48 (2): 8-20. Frey, W. H. 2005. City Can Lure Back Its Reluctant Migrants (New Orleans). Times-Picayune [New Orleans], 30 November, §B, 7. Jarrell, Jerry D. , Max Mayfield, and Edward N. Rappaport. The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Hurricanes from 1900 to 2000. Oct. 2001. NOAA/NWS/ Tropical Prediction Center. 28 Sept. 2005. Katz, B. , M.

Fellowes, and M. Mabanta. 2006. Katrina Index: Tracking Variables of Post-Katrina Reconstruction. 3 May update. Washington, D. C. : The Brookings Institution, Metropolitan Policy Program. LeClaire, Jennifer. Katrina disaster trains a spotlight on homeowners policies. Christian Science Monitor, 9/8/2005, Vol. 97 Issue 200, p12-16, 2p Medias Role Vital in Katrina Disaster. Television Week, 9/12/2005, Vol. 24 Issue 37, p9-9, 1/4p Mowbray, R. 2005. Brightest Evacuees Weigh Option: Return to N. O. or Stay? NOLA. com. NPR; Analysis: Katrinas economic disaster Talk of the Nation, 09/0

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