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Effects Of Hurricane Katrina On New Orleans

1054 words - 5 pages

August 29, 2005 was one of the darkest days for the residents of the State of Louisiana. Katrina, a category 3 hurricane, ripped through New Orleans and the surrounding areas causing catastrophic loss of life and property. The federal government’s disaster response team, which was formed in 1978, titled the Federal Emergency Management Agency, (commonly referred to as FEMA) responded to the needs of the survivors. Unfortunately the Bush administration through FEMA showed gross ineptitude in its response to the disaster. Pre-Katrina the lack of response resulted in a largely unsuccessful evacuation. After the storm, aid to the citizens of New Orleans was slow and inadequate. When we look back at the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, it appears that Bush’s FEMA botched much of the handling of the crisis and that overall, our “administration” could have responded to the situation much better.
The lack of response dates back to the merger of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was formed in 2002 “in response to the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001”(Adamski, p4). The function of DHS is to provide a “unified defense structure against the threat of terrorism and other potential hazards” (Adamski, p4(Homeland Security Act of 2002)). In 2003 the Bush administration reformed FEMA and it was moved under the umbrella of the DHS. With that, the merger changed the mission of FEMA, from its primary focus of disaster response to counter terrorism. Removing FEMA from an independent agency which handled disaster response, and merge with DHS which responded to counter terrorism, according to Adamski, the merge sparked concerns that the coverage of natural disasters would be diluted. Adamski quotes James Witt, former FEMA director commenting, “I’m extremely concerned that the ability of our nation to prepare for and respond to disasters has been sharply eroded” (Adamski, p4). The Katrina experience demonstrated how accurate former Directors Witt’s comments were.
FEMA’s role is defined under the authority of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, known as the Stafford Act was signed by Congress in the 1980’s. After the merger with the DHS, the National Response Plan (NRP) was also adopted, modifying their guidelines yet again to include other non-government organization to help with the disaster response. Under the Stafford Act, FEMA’s mission was to provide disaster assistance to individuals and communities and coordinates emergency support functions for emergency management (A Performance Review of FEMA’s Disaster Management Activities in Response to Hurricane Katrina, p1). Under the NRP, FEMA is designated as the coordinator of the response effort of any disaster (A Performance Review of FEMA’s Disaster Management Activities in Response to Hurricane Katrina, 1). According the studies by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), The Federal Emergency...

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