A City at Bay
A category 5 Hurricane, Katrina, devastated New Orleans on August 29th 2005. Katrina brought high winds and heavy rain; also massive floodwaters after the outdated and unsafe levees were breached. Hurricane Katrina caused a significant amount of damage in New Orleans and a number of lives were lost, some of which could have been prevented. Downed telecommunications, as well as poor pre-preparations, had a major role in the afterhours following Katrina’s landfall. The first levee breach brought extensive flooding affecting: the phone services, government official’s notification, and a delay in rescue/recovery efforts.
New Orleans was a city held at bay, by the downed phone services following Hurricane Katrina’s landfall and high floodwaters. “Cell phone service was spotty and long-distance callers met busy signals on Monday as Hurricane Katrina knocked out key telecommunication hubs along the Gulf Coast” (Jesdanun, Anick). Rapid floodwaters took out most cell phone companies’ power. Some resorted to batteries or generators; once those resources were completely used the company’s men could not reach the batteries and generators to recharge them, due to the rising water (Jesdanun, Anick). With the above being said, the phone outage caused an extended time period of the government’s lack notification of the first levee breach. “ And though the emergency backup systems for wireless communications were based on natural gas, fire fear forced those systems offline in the immediate wake of Katrina” (Hoover, Nicholas). The government was basically unaware of the destruction that hit New Orleans until a few hours after the first levee breach (Jesdanun, Anick).
As suggested by Nicholas Hoover, with Information Week, the telecommunication power loss caused three to four hour time gap before the news of the levee breach reached the necessary people at the federal level (Hoover, Nicholas). Once Homeland Security was aware of the levee breach, floodwaters were reaching 8 to 12 feet, higher in areas closer to the levees.
Critical time was wasted on issues of no importance to disaster response, such as winning the blame game, waging a public relations battle, or debating the advantages of wardrobe choices, the panel found (“City Adrift”)
Many residents of New Orleans suffered in the meantime; 1,400 people lost their lived in Louisiana, more than half were from New Orleans (“City Adrift”). Residents fled for higher ground as raging water entered their homes; others found themselves clung onto their rooftops waiting to be rescued.
Even though, there were suggested warnings for New Orleans and what might happen once Katrina made landfall, no disaster preparedness plan was in place. “Five days of chaos could have been mitigated to one day, had the agency been properly prepared” (“City Adrift”). FEMA was not the only agency that had a delayed response to New Orleans: Salvation Army and The Red Cross also took well over a week before...