Emergency Response in Hurricane Katrina


Utilize the Internet to locate a major incident involving multi-agency emergency management event. Possible events include:
9/11 Attacks on the World Trade Center
I-35 Bridge Collapse
Plane landing in the Hudson River
Hurricane Katrina
Write a paper where you:
Give a summary of the event
Outline the response by police and fire agencies
Detail roles within structured command
Outline crisis response objectives
Discuss decision making strategies and challenges faced by leaders in working through the event
Include at least two academic sources in your paper, including one from the university library.

Sample paper

Emergency Response in Hurricane Katrina

Summary of the event

Hurricane Katrina started as a tropical depression that happened on 23rd August, 2005 in the Bahamas. The meteorologists warned the people around the Gulf Coast that a huge storm was about to hit the place. As predicted, the hurricane struck the place on 29th August, 2005. The storm was rated at category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. It was accompanied by winds of a hundred to a hundred and forty miles per hour and went across four hundred miles. The storm caused a huge damage but the aftermath had catastrophic consequences. There was massive flooding and the residents felt that the federal government was not doing enough to help the affected people. The hurricane was the one of the most destructive and costliest storm in the history of the United States.

Experts approximated that the storm cost over a hundred billion dollars and at least two thousand lives were lost. In addition to this, millions of people in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Orleans were displaced from their homes. The hurricane was also ranked as the sixth of the hurricanes that have hit the Atlantic in terms of strength and its impact was felt across 93,000 miles in the United States. The impact of the storm was felt in New Orleans more than the other place. Before the storm hit, the population of New Orleans comprised of sixty seven percent African Americans and thirty percent of the residents were living in poverty. Their conditions deteriorated further after the storm hit which left most people more vulnerable. Not only had businesses and homes been destroyed but the people stuck there without shelter and food (Hurricane Katrina – Facts & Summary, 2009).

The response by police and fire agencies

There was a lot of criticism regarding emergency response during Hurricane Katrina. The poor response indicated that the federal government was not adequately prepared to handle the disaster. Federal government agencies such as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Federal and National Guard soldiers, local and state agencies, nongovernmental organizations and individuals were at the forefront to help the victims and evacuate them. The Coast Guard called for helicopter services from as far as Massachusetts to help evacuate the stranded people. Five hundred Coast Guard reservists were deployed to the affected areas and hundreds of small boats were also brought on board to evacuate people. The Coast Guard responded first and started saving lives before any other federal agency arrived despite the fact that most of its personnel had also lost their homes. The coast guard rescued more than thirty-three thousand people during the disaster (Moynihan, 2009).

The United States navy dispatched several ships to help save the affected people. The force also received help from the Mexican, Canadian and the Royal Netherlands navies. These ships not only evacuated the people but also brought tons of food, medicines and other supplies. The United States air force was also quick to respond by sending search and rescue relief supplies, aero medical evacuation and provided medical care to the affected people. FEMA was widely criticized for its lack of preparedness. It took the agency a couple of days before it established the rescue operations. The agency, together with the department of transportation sent hundreds of trucks of ready to eat meals, ice and water. They also provided mobile homes, tarpaulins and forklifts.

Roles within structured command

The then president George W. Bush appointed the secretary of the department of homeland security Michael Chertoff to oversee the response by federal agencies. Chertoff authorized Michael Brown, who was the head to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be the Principal Federal Official. He was to lead in the coordination and deployment of the federal response forces resources in the affected places. A special command in the army called the Joint Task Force (JTF) Katrina headed by Lt.Gen.Russell L. Honore was formed.  His sole responsibility was to oversee military activities and coordinate their responses.

Outline crisis response objectives

After defining the magnitude of the disaster, the federal agencies had to consider several things in order to meet the crisis response objectives. Ensuring the safety of the affected people would be a priority. The residents would be at ease if their safety was ensured. This would happen if the emergency response agencies responded on time before things got out of hand. In this case, the number of lives lost would have reduced.

Secondly, the agencies had a responsibility to provide support to the victims. They were to avail food, water, shelter, medicines and mental support to the affected families. The government had to evacuate the residents to a safer place before their residential places were rebuilt. The federal government also needed to have alternative emergency response plans in order to be effective. If one plan failed, there would be another one in place and thus there would be no panic. Finally, rebuilding plans needed to be made so that people in the affected areas could resume their normal lives. (BBC, 2014).

Discuss decision making strategies and challenges faced by leaders in working through the event

There was a lot of confusion in hurricane Katrina especially because the government was not wholly prepared to handle such a huge disaster. The officials did not know how severe the disaster was. They did not have the right figures of those who had died and those who were missing, the magnitude of destruction and how much water, food and aid was needed. Furthermore, FEMA did not have a sound plan on how to conduct the emergency response. Lastly, it was hard to coordinate the different agencies since they had different resources and ways of doing things.


BBC (2014). GCSE Bitesize: Case study: Hurricane Katrina, 2005. Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2 September 2016, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/geography/natural_hazards/hurricanes_rev3.shtml

Hurricane Katrina – Facts & Summary (2009).  HISTORY.com Retrieved 2 September 2016, from http://www.history.com/topics/hurricane-katrina

Moynihan, D. (2009). Retrieved 2 September 2016, from http://irgc.org/wpcontent/uploads/2012/04/Hurricane_Katrina_full_case_study_web.pdf


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