Leadership Lessons from Hurricane Katrina


Refer to Week 3 individual assignment and utilize your previous paper in which you located a major incident involving multi-agency emergency management.

Use the same event from Week 3. ( I have attached the week three assignment)

Write at least a 1050 word paper covering:
?Summarize the event and the response by police and fire agencies
?Detail the roles within structured command
?Discuss the emergency management leadership theories utilized in the event.
?Outline how leadership deals with the community as part of emergency management incident process.
?Relay how leaders approach and deal with the media during, before, and after the crisis.
?Discuss how emergency management training either assisted or could have assisted with the overall emergency management approach.
?Identify ethical challenges faced by leaders working through the event, and what might have been more effective, now that the event is over.

Sample paper

Leadership Lessons from Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest storms to hit the United States. It caused a great deal of damage and cost approximately a hundred billion dollars. In addition to this, two thousand lives were lost and millions of others were displaced from their places of residence. There was a huge damage on the infrastructure and many businesses were destroyed. One of the most talked about highlights of the disaster was the federal government’s emergency response. The response from federal agencies showed lack of preparedness which caused a lot of criticism on the government’s side. Despite the confusion and the delay, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state and local agencies, the National Guard, nongovernmental organizations and individuals did their best to contain the situation. The rescue team evacuated the victims, provided them with shelter, food, water, medication and other supplies. President George bush gave the authority to oversee the response of the various government agencies to the then secretary of homeland security. To assist him, there were other officers in command representing the various agencies involved in saving the victims

The emergency management leadership theories utilized in the event.

When a disaster strikes, the leadership of emergency management agencies is put to test. Hurricane Katrina was a very deadly disaster that could not be managed by local and state agencies. The federal government had to provide their leadership and resources in order to contain the situation. Despite the unpreparedness portrayed by FEMA, there were positives that showed the strengths and leadership values in handling the disaster. This was seen in the agency’s ability to provide the victims with relief and remedy to the damage caused by the hurricane. This requires the agency to have institutional framework that portrays professionalism, leadership skills and commitment towards meeting their objectives.

Outline how leadership deals with the community as part of emergency management incident process.

Most disasters affect the communities residing in those places. A successful emergency management involves the community to a large extent. The leaders spearheading emergency management show their resilience and preparedness by bringing together the members of the society, investors and other stakeholders who may have interest in the community.  National disaster preparedness is generally a responsibility of each member of the society which eventually makes the community and the nation strong and resilient. The role of emergency management programs is to restore peace and stability during a crisis. There has been a shift in the traditional management systems where the government was to respond to disaster and engage in recovery programs, to involving everyone as part of disaster preparedness. FEMA defined and initiated this method which is referred to as “Whole Community” approach. Teams are formed consisting of people who are willing to protect their community against threats and formulate disaster response and recovery strategies (Mangeri, 2016).

FEMA incorporates the local communities in disaster management by applying a number of strategic themes. These include understanding the complexity of the community, building and maintain important partnerships, empowering local action, understanding the needs and capabilities of a community, fostering relationships with community leaders and strengthening social infrastructure, assets and networks. During hurricane Katrina, community involvement was evident. Community organizations and individuals acted heroically in saving lives and helping the victims. Some ordinary citizens used boats to rescue their neighbors while others provided them with food, water and shelter. Even with the government agencies leading in the rescue, the involvement of local residents had great impact.

Relay how leaders approach and deal with the media during, before, and after the crisis

A communication strategy during a crisis must be put together and be ready for implementation at any time whether the disaster is as a result of a natural disaster or is manmade. With advance in technology, information should be accessible to all people by using all possible mediums of communication. One situation which is likely to cause tension is if the wrong information is communicated since it would cause panic.  Emergency managers should hold media outlets accountable and make sure they give the right information to avoid media agenda setting. This refers to the deliberate coverage of events and topics and whose main aim is to influence public policy and public opinion.

During hurricane Katrina the media paid more attention on governments’ response efforts but failed to address individuals’ and communities’’ responsibility of ensuring preparedness. Most media outlets emphasized response and recovery plans but paid little attention to the roles of public health in disaster management. Media criticism was characterized by lawlessness, underestimating emergency response, and issues of racial profiling. Despite the criticism, the media played a very important role in pushing the government to act (Barnes et al., 2008).

Discuss how emergency management training either assisted or could have assisted with the overall emergency management approach.

There was lack of preparedness on both the governments’ and the community’s preparedness during the disaster. The confusion and lack of control by FEMA showed that the agency’s officers lacked enough training on how to respond to an emergency that big. An emergency management agency needs to develop a disaster response mechanism to benefit the organization and the community at large. In order to make this a success, the staff should be introduced to in depth crisis training. Relational training helps during crises recognizing confrontational threats, responding and minimizing them. Trauma informed training helps the staff to understand the psychological impact after a crisis (Metzner, 2015).

During and after a crisis, the victims encounter a lot of stress, emotional and psychological pain. This is the time they need to feel safe and thus human relationships matter a lot. Emergency management agencies need to train their staff by utilizing system of graded and gradual to help them manage people and also recognize violent behavior early enough and intervene appropriately. Communication training should emphasize on having positive attitude and philosophy. This means that the staff should be ready to act on behalf of those affected by the crisis. If FEMA and other agencies had trained their officers on the collaboration and communication strategies, the exercise would have been smooth, lives would have been saved and the mishaps witnessed would have been avoided.

Identify ethical challenges faced by leaders working through the event, and what might have been more effective, now that the event is over.

Hurricane Katrina raised a lot of ethical questions regarding the use of emergency services and social justice in general. The whole rescue operation was full of mishaps and confusion which exposed the incompetence of the federal government agency. FEMA’s director Michael Brown had been appointed to his position and had a responsibility to ensure the disaster response and management was effective but he failed. The use of emergency services in responding to public health issues also raised a lot of concern.  The protocols that are put in place brought a lot of limitations since they did not take into account the damage and the extent in which medical services were needed. Health care providers faced a lot of challenges working through the event. The food and water that was available was not enough for everyone, leaving the healthcare providers in a dilemma on whether to give the patients priority. It was also not clear whether to take care of pregnant women first considering they were carrying life or everyone was to be treated equally. Sometimes they were faced with challenges especially with dialysis patients when the medicine was not enough for everyone. It was also challenging whether to evacuate women and children first or evacuate families together. Failing to have solutions to such concerns during a disaster is unethical (Pou, 2013).


Barnes, M., Hanson, C., Novilla, L., Meacham, A., McIntyre, E., & Erickson, B. (2008). Analysis of Media Agenda Setting During and After Hurricane Katrina: Implications for Emergency Preparedness, Disaster Response, and Disaster Policy. Am J Public Health, 98(4), 604-610. http://dx.doi.org/10.2105/ajph.2007.112235

Mangeri, A. (2016). Emergency Managers Engaging the Whole Community – In Public Safety. In Public Safety. Retrieved 16 September 2016, from http://inpublicsafety.com/2016/01/emergency-managers-engaging-the-whole-community/

Metzner, R. (2015). The Role of Training in Your Disaster Preparedness Plan — Occupational Health & Safety. Occupational Health & Safety. Retrieved 16 September 2016, from https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2015/05/01/The-Role-of-Training-in-Your-Disaster-Preparedness-Plan.aspx

Pou, A. (2013). Ethical and Legal Challenges in Disaster Medicine. Medscape. Retrieved 16 September 2016, from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/777544_2

Emergency Preparedness Drill Outline