Unprepared for Hurricane Katrina: Why It’s So Important to Know the Right Preparations

The impact of Hurricane Katrina forced local and state governments to implement stronger pre-disaster programs. These programs were implemented to make individuals aware of the risks associated with a natural disaster and make provision of aid to assist community in response efforts more easily accessible. State and federal funding started to increase in preparation for another major hurricane. There were still major issues that needed to be addressed within the government. Much emphasis was being placed in getting information to the communities and involve them in the decision-making process.

These hazards were being intensified by people choosing to build their homes in areas where there is an increased risk of damage to life and property. FEMA and other agencies launched new pilot programs, reenact legislations and make new legislations to provide for a better emergency management system catering to natural disasters.

Emergency managers were given more freedom to implement their respective programs and research methods. The state and federal government were willing to provide more funding for these programs so that future disasters will not have tremendous loss of life and property as that of Hurricane Katrina. People and businesses were being more careful in which zones they were building their infrastructure to avoid being in harm’s way.

Programs were set up to increase community knowledge of hazard mitigation during an emergency. Private and public Insurances were set up to protect business and people from losses. Emergency plans were redesigned to cater to specific communities however the bureaucracy and lack of coordination amongst federal and state government were exposed again when hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012.

“On June 11,2015 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) took a large step forward in its own open data efforts by releasing a new data visualization tool that allows the average person to answer questions about his or her region’s history of natural and man-made disasters. Users can filter through raw data to learn about the number of disaster declarations made — events like fires, storms, snow, typhoons and terrorist attacks — by state, county or tribal nation.” (Wood, 2015)

The tool has graphs and charts demonstrating financial costs associated with the events, along with links to FEMA resources that encourage disaster preparation. (Wood, 2015). These tools are expected to give residents the information they need to effectively plan for future disasters within the community.

“Socially vulnerable population segments emerge because our psychological, demographic, economic, and political processes tend to produce them” (FEMA, 2018) Scientist also research evidence that shows climate change is expected to make hurricanes stronger and more destructive. If people continue to underestimate the damage a hurricane can cause, we will continue to see a major loss in life and property.

The unpredictability of nature can have a tremendous effect on individuals and the way they prepare for a disaster within their community. The data visualization tool offers incredible information on the topography of communities. This information can alleviate damage to life and property if emergency personnel can effectively disseminate the information to the public.

As in the case of hurricane Katrina, many were warned that the levees could gave way and cause a disastrous flood, but many did not take it seriously. Governmental officials relied on inconsistent research to make decisions about the lives of others. They believed that since the levees was strong enough for past hurricanes, it would hold steadfast for Katrina.

Societies can adapt to the prevailing environmental conditions at any given location around the United States of America with the data visualization tool. If this tool was available prior to hurricane Katrina, I believe many lives would have been saved and there would have been tremendously less property damage.

Governmental officials would have heeded the warning by emergency personnel about the levees being unable to hold. The military could have been called on an emergency basis to revamp the levees to standards that can withheld the force of Katrina and many lives and property would have been saved.

Socio-economic factors have a significant impact on disaster preparedness and response. Many people fail to effectively prepare for disasters based on their status in society. The wealthier in society will have the money to do the necessary repairs to mitigate damage, in contrast to the poor who must look to the government for help.

We need to create legislation that will make it easier for the poor to receive grants to improve their infrastructure thus alleviating the damage to life and property. Our communities need to invest in structural controls and make sure they are building codes in place that prevent people from building unsafe homes in zones where hurricane is prevalent.

Human beings are stubborn in that they believe that they can adapt to certain environments without the help of others. It is the interactive theory of nature and society that makes disasters become more formidable. As in the case of hurricane Katrina, many choose to stay in their homes instead of seeking shelter. This created a wave of rescue efforts that took up much needed time and resources that could have been diverted elsewhere.

Many communities failed to adequately prepare for Katrina because the dissemination of warning was not taken seriously. Trust is very important when disseminating information to the public, hence law enforcement and other emergency personnel should implement measures that make it easier for the message to reach poorer population.

The mass media is an important source of information on hazards for societies. Many people learn what they know about disasters from the mass media. “These include, educating the public about hazard, disseminating disaster warnings, reporting on disasters and their impact, providing information on available sources of disaster assistance” (Tierney, p.136) I believe further research is needed in ways to disseminate the message to various cultures, so they will be fewer delays in understanding the message. This will eventually lead to more proactive action from the entire community.

When Hurricane Katrina hit landfall, many did not know what to expect. They know it was a powerful storm but was oblivious to the damage it would eventually cost. The building codes were not up to standard which led to homes being easily damaged. These codes would have been updated years ago if the government had a data visualization tool readily available to emergency personnel and the public.

Many would have understood the geography and topography of their communities and changed the way they prepared for the hurricane. They would have knowledge of the type of hurricane that usually hit the city and make better psychological decisions concerning safety. Many lives could have been saved if people understood the reason to evacuate or move to nearby shelters.

They believed that their homes were strong enough to withstand hurricane Katrina destruction and thus failed to implement the necessary precautions to alleviate the destruction.” But now that the tool is public, the agency hopes that when people see that disasters happen where they live and everywhere else, it will spur them to action.” (Wood, 2015) Citizens involvement in creating resilient communities is vital for the success of emergency preparedness and response. They need to be more aware of the challenges facing their community and adapt to environmental conditions.

The environment humans occupy consists of natural and technological components, each of which contains elements that pose a variety of risks to the human occupants and their property. These risks include both health and safety dangers for the occupants themselves, and dangers to the physical or material culture created by the occupants (FEMA, 2018)

The culture created by the occupants needs to be one in which everyone feels a sense of inclusion. Regularly attending community meetings and emergency preparedness seminars should be a focal point in discussions. Emergency managers should make sure that their staff is well trained about the hazards that affect the community. The data visualization tool created by FEMA should be studied by emergency personnel along with other technological advancement that will help in disaster preparedness and response.

Preparedness activities include developing emergency response plans, training employees and response personnel on what to do in an emergency, acquiring needed equipment, supplies, and materials, and conducting drills and exercises. Household preparedness activities include developing an emergency plan for the household, storing food and water, making sure there is a battery-powered radio on hand, and taking other steps to anticipate whatever problems a disaster might create.