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Federalism and Hurricane Katrina Essay

When it comes to Hurricane Katrina, many people have different opinions on who to blame. I think FEMA is to blame for the lack of response to Hurricane Katrina. FEMA stands for Federal Emergency Management Agency and the director of FEMA is Michael Brown. The main purpose of FEMA is to respond to disasters that occur in the United States, but FEMA may not be the best response. After the hurricane had hit, many articles went up about the hurricane and the response, and many of those articles were after FEMA for different reasons. An example would be the New York Times.

One article explained how FEMA rejected other doctors and nurses from helping with dying patients because they were not “federalized” or certified members of a National Disaster Medical Team . Another article stated that FEMA had turned away Wal-Mart trucks stocked with water . Even FEMA’s own website was involved with the news and had an article about how the first responders were discouraged from responding. FEMA was lacking supplies for all of those who were affected by the hurricane. They would not allow help from anybody else. Paperwork is used to ask questions about insurance and income to determine how much loan can be given. If people asked to help FEMA, FEMA made it hard for those people with all of the paperwork.

For example, FEMA would not allow Red Cross to deliver food for those that needed it. It seemed to be that FEMA thought that FEMA had everything under control, and refusing everyone else would prove it; a couple days later after the hurricane, people saw how they kept things under control. There had been many criticisms spreading about the responses of FEMA. Some people were saying that FEMA was just very slow in making the decisions; others were defending it by saying that FEMA wanted everything to be in an organized timing.

The director of FEMA, Michael Brown, was surprised by the number of people seeking refuge was a large number and was not really prepared. Critics argue that FEMA had people appointed who had no experience with emergency management, like Michael Brown. They say it is partly because of the appointed people that FEMA is lacking response to disasters, especially during Hurricane Katrina.

Federalism in the United States is power divided and shared between the different levels of government. In federalism, there are advantages and
disadvantages; for example, federalism helps makes dictatorship difficult, but the arrangement of the shared powers is not always successful. It played a role in Hurricane Katrina that did not go too well.

During Hurricane Katrina, the responsibility was given to the state government, who, at that time, was the Governor of Louisiana Kathleen Blanco. Of course, the US government could help the state government during the response, which would be FEMA providing finances. Although Hurricane Katrina wiped out everything and made people in danger, Kathleen Blanco failed to see that help was needed. She refused requests from the president, who was President George W. Bush at that time.

In the end, it looked like FEMA lacked preparation for Hurricane Katrina, and needed to focus more on preparations of big catastrophes instead of routine emergencies. With hundreds of people dead and injured from the hurricane, FEMA has to step up and open up to other people in order to get ready for the next catastrophe.

Works Cited
SHANE, SCOTT. “After Failures, Government Officials Play Blame Game .” 5 September 2005. The New York Times. . TIERNEY, JOHN. “Going (Down) by the Book.” 17 September 2005. The New York Times. .


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