Each storm season in Texas and across the country are truly a complex beauty of nature that reminds us how miniscule the human race is. Every year many preparedness classes are held, bulletins are posted but many people are killed because preparedness for storms or any other disaster is not prepared for in an efficient manner. As a storm chaser and a security and safety coordinator for the medical reserve corps, many types of disasters are seen in the surrounding areas every year. Particularly significant is that Texas is in tornado alley. Preparedness on all levels of government must be an utmost importance on the level of keeping the community safe. Many government officials do not feel that disaster preparedness should be implemented into the budget and planned for. Being ready for a disaster and preparing for one ahead of time will not only save lives but save the structure of the community itself. In this paper, ways to implement preparedness in all types of situations will be discussed, particularly Hurricane Katrina. Facts will be shown why readiness and preparedness are vital to survival of any disaster.
This first section will be an overview of the days that led up to Hurricane Katrina making landfall on the coast of Louisiana. Being in the American Red Cross at the time the team had been on high alert waiting for this storm to take a definite path. It was a very ominous site to watch. As the hurricane grew in strength her eye became more defined and the pattern of her outward bands were almost breathtaking. The NOAA storm prediction center was alerting the people of New Orleans that they needed to prepare. Like many coastal towns, their reaction was to wait it out and initially not evacuate. As the storm grew in strength, New Orleans and the surrounding coast began to realize this hurricane was not like any other storm. The evacuation window was closing for them to evacuate in time. They are started sheltering in place and hoping for the best. “In advance to Hurricane Katrina, managers could not develop mindset required for collaboration and foster culture that facilitates interoperability during the disasters. So, their efforts were not open or clear to partnering organizations, accordingly, individual’s efforts were severely isolated not to get appropriate assistance from supporting organizations” (Namkyung Oh, 2012). The organizational functions between the levels of government and the corresponding agencies like the American Red Cross was so disorganized their emergency plan of action somewhat crumbled before it even was set into action.
The breakdown began in the beginning and people from emergency teams were using their own vehicles to drive to Louisiana to help with rescue efforts. The processes of the ways things were down and how they broke down will be discussed in this paper.
What is preparedness
Preparedness can range for the smallest detail of labels on go bas to evacuation plans. Every single detail counts in the preparedness of disaster planning. Most people and businesses believe that is any type of disaster happens, nothing bad will happen. Being unprepared only leads to disaster during a disaster. Implementing an all hazards disaster plan both at home and in the workplace can alleviate the stress of what to do when a disaster strikes (Das, 2018). “In today’s world, it is imperative to be prepared for the worst possible situations” (GSCHWENDER & GILLARD, 2017).
With the National Incident Management System, the components of command and management, preparedness, resource management, communications/information management, support technologies management and maintenance are used”.(Kohn, Barnett, Galastri, Semon, & Links, 2010). This can make the response factor move smoother. Every though, all organizations were prepared, many things went wrong.
Levels of Disasters
Mitigation plans that are done before any disaster strikes can greatly decrease the loss of human life (Das, 2018). Many disasters that happen here in Texas range from flash floods to extreme disasters like major hurricanes. Flash floods and flooding can occur in an instant. People are not aware or chose to drive into water that can consume a vehicle in seconds. During storm season, Texas is considered to be part of what is called tornado alley. The most violent storms that produce the most tornadoes happen in this region of the country. Being a certified professional storm spotter and storm chaser, our team has seen the disaster of the smallest tornado to the largest F5 tornado. The impact of these types of disaster emotional affects a community. Houses are destroyed and many people are left homeless.
Preparation is important to reduce the vulnerability of in the face of disasters, to lessen the magnitude of the impact of disasters and to encourage resiliency after disasters to continue positive development efforts. The mitigation process before Hurricane Katrina was not thorough. Mitigation is supposed to reduce the loss of life in a disaster and lessen the effect of the disaster on property Policies and programs have been essential in keeping communities viable, responding to the needs of citizens facing dangers to their lives and property, and developing mutual aid agreements with nearby jurisdictions when help is needed.
Even though a disaster declaration was implemented by the President prior to Hurricane Katrina, no declaration was declared for the coastal regions of Louisiana. “For Hurricane Katrina, the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch at 10:00 am CDT on Saturday 27 August and a warning at 10:00 pm on the same day” (Wu, Lindell, & Prater , 2012).
Communication in any dire situation is imperative. Being of the frontlines during Hurricane Katrina, our team was in the midst of the chaos of the communication breakdown. Many got blamed for the extreme lack of flow before during and after the hurricane hit the coast.
Ultimately, there must be a concrete communication plan in plan with defined levels are structured to flow consistently throughout any type of disaster.
“During their responses to Hurricane Katrina organizations had to address challenges that they faced but they failed. This shows how organizations in the response system could successfully upgrade their capabilities and structure for collaboration with significant changes in policies and practices using lessons from accumulated knowledge from Hurricane Katrina” (Namkyung Oh, 2012).
Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act provides the legal authority for the federal government to provide assistance to states during declared major disasters and emergencies. “The Stafford Act authorizes the delivery of federal technical, financial, logistical, and other assistance to states and localities during declared major disasters or emergencies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) coordinates administration of disaster relief resources and assistance to states. Federal assistance is provided under the Stafford Act if an event is beyond the combined response capabilities of state and local governments” (Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief , 2017).
Evacuations should be in waves where certain section evacuates at different times. Also, all lanes of the evacuation routes should be directed the evacuation direction. In Florida, only the north bound lanes are open for evacuation.
If the agencies would have communicated more efficiency, then the utter lack of communication breakdown would not have happened. “From the standpoint of the working class in New Orleans, recovery has meant deeper dysfunction and worse housing opportunities. The developers and major business firms, however, seem well on the way to securing their interests in the new New Orleans” (Green, Kouassi, & Mambo, 2013).
The day of August 29, 2005 is a day not to be forgotten. People lost their lives, their homes and New Orleans was and still is forever changed by the events of that day and the days to follow. In Psalm 57:1, it is said, “Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by” (Bible ). Having faith in God during troubled times instills that God is with us always. Even if times feel that there is no hope, there is hope if you keep your faith in God.