Crisis and Disasters
On August 23, 2005 the tropical depression 12 formed in the Caribbean then it rapidly became tropical storm Katrina on August 24, 2005 as it drifted toward southern Florida. Then on August 25 it strengthened into hurricane Katrina. No one at this time had any idea of what was coming, that this would be on the five deadliest hurricanes in Untied States History. Resulting in the death of around 1, 820 people. From the Gulf coast along Florida to Texas much damage was caused from storm surge.
The main amount of damage was in New Orleans, Louisiana which flooded due to levee systems failing, resulting in 80% of the city being flooded and the flood waters lasted for weeks, destroying homes, buildings, and entire communities. . Hurricane Katrina began in the Bahamas on August 23 and as it made it was into southern Florida it became a category 1 hurricane before it grew rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico. In the Gulf in became a category 5 hurricane but weakened before it hit southern Louisiana on August 29 becoming a category 3 hurricane.
In just 9 hours the storm went from a category 3 to a category 5 hurricane, this was due to the storms movements over the warm waters of the loop current, which increased the wind speeds of the hurricane. On August 26, the National Guard was activated in Mississippi to help prepare for the oncoming storm. The next day the state activated its Emergency Operations center along with 57 other emergency shelters opened along the coastline and evacuation orders were put into effect. Louisiana’s hurricane evacuation plan calls for local governments in areas along and near the coast to evacuate in three phases, starting with the immediate coast 50 hours before the start of tropical storm force winds.
Persons in areas designated Phase II begin evacuating 40 hours before the onset of tropical storm winds and those in Phase III areas (including New Orleans) evacuate 30 hours before the start of such winds although many people at the time were unwilling to evacuate due to the fact they didn’t want to leave their homes, business, or even pets. Many private facilities that relied to bus companies and ambulance services to evacuate people failed due to the fact that they waited too long. This happened when the Governor did not sign an emergency waiver to allow licensed drivers to transport evacuees on school buses. On August 27, George W. Bush, President of the United States, declared a state of emergency in certain areas of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. On August 28 almost all infrastructe had been shut down along the coast making it even harder to evacuate people. On the morning of August 28 with winds up to 175 mph and category 5 statues it hit Louisiana. On August 29 Katrina made its second landfall as a category 3 with winds up to 125mph near Buras-Triumph, Louisiana.
Katrina’s third landfall was near the Louisiana/ Mississippi line as a category 3 hurricane with 120mph winds. After reaching Tennessee it was downgraded to a tropical depression and finally lost it’s power over the Great Lakes region. From the Gulf coast along Florida to Texas much damage was caused from storm surge. The main amount of damage was in New Orleans, Louisiana which flooded due to levee systems failing, resulting in 80% of the city being flooded and the flood waters lasted for weeks, destroying homes, buildings, and entire communities. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said this was “probably the worst catastrophe, in the country’s history.” The aftermath from Katrina had many negative effects. The economic effects from the storm were the worst. The Bush Administration asked for 105 billion dollars in repairs and reconstruction for the area. Katrina destroyed 30 oil rings in the Gulf Coast and caused 9 to permeably close. Mississippi’s forestry industry was affected being that 1.3 million acres of timber was destroyed, this was around 5 billion dollars worth of damage. Hundreds of thousands of people were left without jobs after Katrina. Hundreds of thousands of people were sent all across the United States to different shelter locations.
The levee failures in New Orleans are accounted to be the worst civil engineering fail in U.S history and a lawsuit was filled against the U.S Army Corps of Engineers who built the levees by Judge Stanwood Duval but this was thrown out due to the sovereign immunity in the Flood Control Act of 1965. There was also another investigation of federal agencies which resulted in the resignation of FEMA director Michael D. Brown. On September 12, 2005 Brown resigned, stating that it was “in the best interest of the agency and best interest of the president.” Before his resignation Brown had already been taken away from his job as coordinator in federal efforts in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast by Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff . It was been said that Brown was forced out of the administration rather that voluntarily resigning.. .
Katrina destroyed many wildlife habitats and breeding grounds for marine mammals such as turtles, fish, birds, and many marshes for migrating ducks were destroyed. Seven million gallons of oil were leaked into the ocean. Many spills were cleaned up but some managed to leak into the ecosystem and some towns were even flooded with oil mixed waters. During the clean up, flood waters were pumped into Lake Pontchartrain, which took 43 days. Those waters contained many toxic things to wildlife such as bacteria, raw sewage, pesticides, toxic chemicals, and oil. Many citizens starting looting stores in New Orleans in search of food, water, and many other items for personal gain. The news media reported rapes, murders, thefts during this but many reports turned out to be inaccurate. The National Guard was sent in to restore order and over the first week that’s what they accomplished. The Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team was sent into Louisiana to to verify, document, and characterize deaths caused by hurricane Katrina. It was found that there were 971 Katrina-related deaths in Louisiana and 15 deaths among Katrina evacuees in other states.
Drowning was the cause of (40% of deaths, injury and trauma caused 25% of deaths, and heart conditions caused 11% of the deaths that were the major causes of death among Louisiana victims. After hurricane Katrina many state, local, and federal agencies were aware of the serious devastation of the area but were unable to communicate with each other properly into order to coordinate a rescue response such as help citizens, provide law enforcement, and evacuate the rest of the city. During the first two days the federal government forces had no commutation with the states national guard . resulting in either agency being able to operate at full efficiency. No one had any idea what the other agency was doing or had already done. This resulted in the delay of many ground forces be assisted to the area. FEMA requested assistance from DOD not knowing what the National guard had already done to fill the same needs. This also resulted in no formal command relationship which caused confusion on what jobs both sides need to do. The destruction of communications infrastructure made it impossible for emergency responders and citizens to communicate effectively. With 70 percent of the city’s police officers being victims themselves there was not enough law enforcements to restore order. The Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security had to send it different agencies of law enforcement t to help the New Orleans police department .
Many hospitals were destroyed during Katrina and with thousands of people needing assistance it was devastating. Most local and State public health and medical assets were overwhelmed by these conditions, placing even more responsibility on federal agencies.. The process for approval for the reimbursement for medical and public health services provided by Federal agencies created delays and frustrations among health care providers, patients and the general public. Triage was also a big factor during Hurricane Katrina considering the fact that the number of people needing help was much greater than the number of first responders. Many people needed to be rescued and were injured and with the conditions of the city it was a hard task to find people and be able to transport to them a care center. This was a long task considering first responders had to locate a victim, transport them somewhere for help, get back to the same area and keep looking only to repeat the process over and over. It was hard to pick and choose to would get help first considering the fact that only numbers of people would be found at a time. During Hurricane Katrina DMORT set up the Find Family National Call Center in Louisiana. This was the center of operations for finding the location and reuniting families that were separated during Hurricane Katrina.
Out of 13,000 people that were missing, around 7,000 were reunited to their families thanks to the DMORTS operation. DMORT were given two missions during Hurricane Katrina. One was to set up a base camp for DMORT and the other was to set up a base camp for the 1600 person Urban Search and Rescue crew. Other duties were to set up temporary morgue facilities, do victim identification, forensic dental pathology on diseased bodies, processing, preparation of diseased bodies. One major thing that was learned during Hurricane Katrina is that during such a major disaster declaring a state of emergency and an evacuation of a area is not enough to reduce the amount of fatalities during a disaster. A big problem was that During Katrina many agencies had no ways to communicate and set up a chain of command in order to operate at full efficiency of their abilities. When it is known that a natural disaster is going to take place , the agencies that are going to respond being state or federal need to know in advance in order to set up a plan for each agency so that no one is doing the same thing over. Good communication methods need be planned out before hand since this way such a major issue during Hurricane Katrina. Another major issue during Katrina was triage and the lack of first responders.
Once it is known that a major disaster is about to take place local medical centers can not be relied on being that there is a great chance they can be destroyed or without any power as seen during hurricane Katrina. Centers need to be set up away from the danger area and transportation of these civilians need to be prepared in advance. Small issues that can lead into big problems such as the Governor during Katrina w did not sign an emergency waiver to allow licensed drivers to transport evacuees on school buses are objectives that need to be taken care of in advance to avoid such issues. Centers that are set up need to be well equipped and supplied to handle the amount to people that will be sent there. Organizations such as the American Red Cross should be asked in advance for their assistance, not after the disaster has already taken place. Assistance on how hospitals to get paid back by federal funds for their assistance should be taken care of during advance being that this was a major issue during Katrina. Federal teams that will be needed just be warned in advance for their assistance and be told to be on immediate standby. This should include professional search and rescue teams , the National Search and Rescue Response team, the National Guard, DMORT, Psychologists, EMS, Firefighter, state and federal police agencies, and DMAT should all be prepared .