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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav: New Orleans Crisis Response

Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav: New Orleans Crisis Response

    The City of New Orleans reacted with more efficiency in dealing with Gustav than it did with Katrina;“the response system that evolved following Hurricane Gustav reveals a markedly different pattern. First, the public organizations entered the response system a full four days before the storm made landfall, indicating a greater degree of awareness and preparedness for action”(Comfort, Oh, & Ertan, 2009, p 319). The lessons of Katrina may have finally been leaned. New Orleans had participated in hurricane drills before Katrina; “Hurricane experts from the Center had even run drills of a Katrina-like scenario the year before in a study funded by FEMA itself” (Sobel & Leeson, 2006, p. 68). However, The actual events of Katrina had overwhelmed city planning. There are other considerations to take into account for the more efficient response to Gustav; Federal and State assistance. Before Katrina struck, Bush and Blanco played political hot potato with the responsibility to federalize the response Congressional reaction to Katrina's aftermath put more onus on the President to take responsibility; “A little over a year later, in September 2006, Congress passed legislation that amended the Insurrection Act to give the president explicit authority to deploy the military for law enforcement purposes following a natural disaster, with or without a governor’s consent” (McGrane, 2010, p. 1330). In addition, other local authorities were better equipped in an organizational sense to react to hurricane situations; “A network of NGOs across the Gulf Coast have been cooperating on an Equity and Inclusion Campaign to present a regional, united front representing Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to the federal government. According to Mock (2009), this interorganizational networking showed successes coping with more recent hurricanes Gustav and Ike” (Garnett & Kouzmin, 2009, p 393).
    The blame for the failure to adequately to respond to Katrina can justly be spread across all responsible agencies; Menzel contends that the report issued by the House Select committee, A Failure of Initiative, “spares no one” (2006, 810). However, the principal responsibility to act in crisis is a function of the Mayor's office; ”The City of New Orleans Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan ('New Orleans Plan') is consistent with the State of Louisiana Emergency Management Plan. The plan reflects the principle that 'City government bears the initial responsibility for disaster response and relief.' It is therefore the Mayor of the City of New Orleans who must initiate, execute, and direct the operations during any emergency or disaster affecting the City of New Orleans (Select Bipartisan Committee, 2006, p.50). The Committee also found that “Despite adequate warning 56 hours before landfall, Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin delayed ordering a mandatory evacuation in New Orleans until 19 hours before landfall (2006, p.108). Nagin's response to the crisis was abysmal in other regards. “Both New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, for example, initially made claims that thousands or maybe even tens of thousands of people were dead, with hundreds of thousands left trapped in homes. In the end, however, these numbers were gross exaggerations” (Sobel & Leeson, 2006, p. 62). Nagin's penchant for public relations displays as opposed to solid crisis management were noted by those that worked directly with him. Lt. Col. Brewer of Task Force LAV noted, “I watched first hand the publicity stunts Nagin pushed on people” and that “Ray Nagin failed as a leader to take responsibility for the mistakes that were made before the hurricane hit, and after it struck” (Christ, 2010, location 3650). Finally, Nagin's efforts to resettle New Orleans were based on politics rather than on concern for citizens; Jurkiewicz quotes Lassiter, “The mayor of New Orleans did a terrible injustice to the poorest evacuees for his own personal gain. In order to get reelected, the mayor campaigned and convinced thousands of poor uneducated evacuees to return to a city that had very little or no accommodations or assistance programs to support their return” (2009, p.357).


A failure  of initiative: Final report of the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina. (2006). Select Bipartisan Committee  to Investigate the Preparation  for and Response  to Hurricane Katrina. Retrieved JFebruary 1, 2015 from http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CRPT-109hrpt377/pdf/CRPT-109hrpt377.pdf

Comfort, L. K., Oh, N., & Ertan, G. (2009). The Dynamics of Disaster Recovery: Resilience and Entropy in Hurricane Response Systems 2005-2008. Public Organization Review, 9(4), 309–323. doi:http://dx.doi.org.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/10.1007/s11115-009-0098-3

Christ, J. (2010). Katrina's wake: Task Force LAV in New Orleans; September 2005 (Kindle ed.). ISBN 978-0-557-93917-6

Garnett, J., & Kouzmin, A. (2009). Crisis Communication Post Katrina: What are we Learning? Public Organization Review, 9(4), 385–398. doi:http://dx.doi.org.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/10.1007/s11115-009-0096-5

Jurkiewicz, C. L. (2009). Political Leadership, Cultural Ethics and Recovery: Louisiana Post-Katrina. Public Organization Review, 9(4), 353–366.  doi:http://dx.doi.org.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/10.1007/s11115-009-0094-7

McGrane, S. (2010). Katrina, Federalism, and Military Law Enforcement: A New Exception to the Posse Comitatus Act. Michigan Law Review, 108(7), 1309–1340. Retrieved February 1, 2015 from http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/201156672?pq-origsite=summon

Menzel, D. C. (2006). The Katrina Aftermath: A Failure of Federalism or Leadership? Public Administration Review, 66(6), 808–812. Retrieved February 1, 2015 from   http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/197175966?pq-origsite=summon

Sobel, R. S., & Leeson, P. T. (2006). Government’s response to Hurricane Katrina: A public choice analysis. Public Choice, 127(1-2), 55–73. doi:http://dx.doi.org.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/10.1007/s11127-006-7730-3

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