In August of 2005 Hurricane Katrina formed over the Bahamas and quickly gained in
intensity and devastated several parts of the United States, with particular damage to the city of
New Orleans, Louisiana. This paper will discuss the actions that were taken to mitigate the
disaster and restore functionality to the metropolis, and provide an overview of the city’s
programs for responding to such emergencies and its preparedness to handle another such
event in the future.
A sequential treatment of the disaster, focusing on events in the order in which they
occurred, both in terms of the natural disaster itself, and more particularly, the attempts of
government agencies to ...view middle of the document...
At this time, the eye
of Hurricane Katrina was located off the southern tip of Florida. Though damage was incurred in
the panhandle, the National Hurricane Center announced correctly that the storm was heading
for the coasts of Mississippi and Louisiana.
It was at this point that Louisiana’s Governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, declared a
state of emergency. This officially activated the state’s office of Homeland Security and
Emergency Preparedness in its role to provide emergency support.
In response to the state of emergency, federal troops were deployed to the state to
coordinate disaster response efforts with Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA).
Troops from Louisiana’s Air National Guard and Army National Guard were also deployed. As of
that evening, the National Hurricane Center believed that Katrina would strike 66 miles southeast
of New Orleans.
On Saturday morning, August 27th, Hurricane Katrina reached category 3 severity after
gaining strength all the way across the Gulf of Mexico. Cities throughout the area ordered
mandatory evacuations at 10:00 AM, but in New Orleans, it wasn’t until 5 in the afternoon that
Mayor Ray Nagin declared a city-specific state of emergency and called for a voluntary
evacuation. The Mayor stated that he would follow the state’s standardized evacuation plan and
abstain from issuing mandatory evacuation orders until 30 hours before expected landfall. The
purpose of this, Nagin said, was to allow residents of the 9th Ward and Algiers and other areas
of the city that were far beneath sea level to get a head start in leaving the city.
Nagin ordered the Louisiana Superdome, currently known as the Mercedes-Benz
Superdome, opened as a shelter for residents of the city with disabilities who would have
difficulty escaping the metropolis. His advice to these people was to bring sufficient supplies to
satisfy their own needs, such as food, blankets, and folding chairs. Additionally, Louisiana's
National Guard brought seven trucks full of MREs(standing for “Meal, Ready to Eat”) and three
truckloads of water. It was intended to be sufficient to sustain 15,000 people for three days.
Meanwhile, Governor Blanco requested that President George Bush declare a federal
state of emergency to release federal funds to support the situation, in accordance with the
Stafford Act. He obliged; this also activated the procedure that, by law, emergency relief efforts
be coordinated under the oversight of FEMA’s federal coordinating officer(FCO). This also
provided for more military personnel and resources to be put into use, so long as it didn’t violate
the stipulations of the Posse Comitatus Act, which imposes restrictions against the use of Active
Duty soldiers in law enforcement.
After midnight, now Sunday, Hurricane Katrina became a Category 4 storm, boasting 145
mph winds. Before 7:00 AM, it had attained Category 5 intensity. At...