Disasters can be natural or man made. Either way they all are inevitable particularly the natural ones as we can not prevent them from happening. The only thing we can do as individuals and governments is to try and be prepared so as to reduce ether harm that usually accompanies such disasters. The government has the responsibility of ensuring that its citizens’ safety hence have disaster management departments whose role is to predict disasters and prevent them if possible, warn the citizens in the event that one is predicated and evacuate them from the dangerous are., educate the public on disaster management and preparedness and to attend to those who are caught up in the disasters when they occur.
The Katrina Hurricane of 2005 which originated from the Atlantic Ocean and hit New Orleans and the neighbouring regions in the united states causing death of over 1400 people and massive destruction to property caused the government to make adjustments in its disaster preparedness, mitigation and management (Hoffman 4). The Department of Homeland Security which was accused of taking long to respond also had to take measures to improve on the way they responded to such disasters so as to reduce the extend of harm especially to human lives.
The hurricane provided an opportunity for the country to review its national preparedness to disasters (Palser pp.13-56). One of the impacts of Katrina Hurricane was on the National Priorities (Hoffman 4). Added on the nation’s priority list was ensuring citizen protection by strengthening and making new plans in the emergency operations and protection capabilities. The government through the then president, Bush declared emergency planning a Security priority for the nation. In order to meet this goal, the government resorted to implement policies that would ensure good planning, avail mass care for hit citizens which include providing shelter, clothing to disaster victims and evacuation operations that would ensure citizen protection (Palser pp.13-56). This planning was to ensure that the country would not be caught unaware by another future disaster of the same kind. That it would be prepared to take care of its citizens and reduce the death tolls (Cooper & Bloc pp. 33-104).
The occurrence of the hurricane also resulted to emphasis being shifted from terrorism as the only major threat to the county’s national security to include all hazards. Initially, as a result of the September 11th attack terrorist attacks on the pentagon and the twin towers that left over 3000 people dead and more maimed, more emphasis had been put on counter- terrorism as it was considered to be the only threat to the nations security. However after the Katrina Hurricane, the government had to make changes and include all hazards as a threat to the national security of the American citizens (Pinkowski 23). This resulted to strategies in disaster preparedness and management being given as serious attention as counter- terrorism was being given. Resources necessary training and equipment required by the Homeland Security Department were availed and the policies that encouraged disaster preparedness and management made. The fact that all hazards were given priority has made it possible for the Homeland Security Department and other concerned bodies to be prepared for future disasters so that they can manage them by not delaying hence prevent loss of as many lives as it was with the Katrina (Cooper & Bloc pp. 255-300).
The Katrina Hurricane made it necessary for the Department of Homeland security to make revisions, adjustments and update some aspects of the Target Capability List as a respond to demands and comments from those who believed that the Katrina had lessons for them to learn from. Some of these revisions included the changes in the management of fatality cases and rewriting of Environmental health (Pinkowski pp.12-17). Citizen protection measures such as evacuation were modified as a measure of preparedness to plans. Violence, rape and looting t which characterised the Katrina incident influenced the Department of Homeland Security to include public safety in the plans; this was also to include security response in the event that such a disaster and any other mass disaster occurred.
Adjustments were also made that required high governmental officials to participate and be involved in on- site Incident management and Emergency Operations Centre activities. Modifications were also made in the urban search and rescue operations so that apart from extricating collapsed structures, they also searched evacuated areas for signs of wounded or weak people who might have been left behind (Pinkowski pp.12-17). These changes that were made as a result of pressure from the stakeholders after they experienced the Katrina Hurricane have helped beef up the Department of Homeland Security Department’s plans to ensure its preparedness and management for the next big disaster.
The Katrina Hurricane which taught the nation many lessons on disaster preparedness and management has also provided opportunity for future adjustments to be made in the Target Capability List. These changes will be made in conjunction with other disaster management groups such as The Red Cross and The Salvation Army which usually assist during such disasters. The modifications include changes in the way mass care is administered to the victims. The changes are to make it make this operation more effective and timely so no lives are lost due to lack of food or shelter and other cares. Changes are also going to be made to ensure and help the disaster victims recover quickly even though this recovery will be short term.
This adjustment will enable the victims to move on with their lives at a faster rate than it is now. Another area that needs adjustment is the management of volunteers who usually come in to help with evacuation and administering of mass care to the individuals. The donations made towards helping the victims also need proper management. The Katrina incident made it obvious that changes needed to be made in the management of the two resources to ensure that they are well utilised and that the funds reach victims who need them most. This is to prevent misappropriation of funds. The Katrina incident has also made it necessary for the citizens to be prepared for future disasters and participate in their management (Zdziarski, Norbert & Rollo pp.4-32). It has also called for educating of members of the public on the importance of being prepared for any eventuality.
We can conclude by saying that the Katrina Hurricane had lessons for all the stakeholders hence initiated changes that improved disaster preparedness and management in the united States. The hurricane had an impact not only on the government and the Department of Homeland Security but also on the American citizens. As a result of its occurrence, citizens protection is a priority for the government and preparedness for the next big natural or man made disaster has been beefed up with everyone on the lookout hence hopefully less lives will be lost.
Cooper, Christopher and Block, Jeffrey. Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security. New York: NY, Times Books. (2006).
Hoffman, Mary. Hurricane Katrina. New York: Rosen Publishing Group. (2006).
Palser, Barb. Hurricane Katrina: Aftermath of Disaster. Minneapolis: MN, Compass Point Books. (2006).
Pinkowski, Jack. Disaster Management Handbook. Boca Raton: FL, CRC Press.(2008).
Zdziarski, Eugene Norbert, Dunkel and Michael Rollo. Campus Crisis Management:A Comprehensive Guide to Planning, Prevention, Response, and Recovery. Hoboken :NJ, John Wiley and Sons. (2007).