Hurricane Katrina: Emergency Response and Recovery Operations in New Orleans

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In August of 2005 Hurricane Katrina formed over the Bahamas and quickly gained in

intensity and devastated several parts of the United States, with particular damage to the city of

New Orleans, Louisiana. This paper will discuss the actions that were taken to mitigate the

disaster and restore functionality to the metropolis, and provide an overview of the city’s

programs for responding to such emergencies and its preparedness to handle another such

event in the future.

A sequential treatment of the disaster, focusing on events in the order in which they

occurred, both in terms of the natural disaster itself, and more particularly, the attempts of

government agencies to respond at each stage. This case is of particular interest to the study of

disaster preparedness as a whole, due primarily to the general consensus that the catastrophe

was handled extremely poorly. These shortcomings were even officially recognized, resulting in

the resignation of the director of FEMA, and extreme criticisms being directed at both the

agencies and elected officials involved in dealing with Hurricane Katrina.

The essay will then conclude with a treatment of the current state of emergency

response protocols in New Orleans as it pertains to coastal storm and flooding situations.

Chowdhury 2

Hurricane Katrina initially formed over the Bahamas as a category 1 hurricane on the

Tuesday of August 23rd, 2005 at 5:00 pm EDT. It was initially unclear what the risk level and

path of the storm would be. The initial tracking and detection of the event was provided by the

National Hurricane Center, as is the standard for hurricanes and tropical storms originating in the


By 1:00 AM of the following Friday, Hur...

... middle of paper ...

... right situation.

The plans in place to handle the situation were revealed to be ineffective in the extreme, or

nonexistent. The only notably successful part of the evacuation scheme was part of the

evacuation. In terms of the city’s residents who owned motor vehicles and were capable,

through their own resources, to leave the area, the emptying of New Orleans was successful.

The problem arose with those who were unable to leave without assistance. It is universally
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agreed that more could have been done.

The city of New Orleans is still in the process of improving its preparedness for flooding and

hurricane events in the future. Issues such as levee strength, the sinking of the land due to

environmental factors, and the probability of more oceanic storms arriving in the future will

remain issues to be overcome for the foreseeable future.

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