Disasters are natural or man-made emergencyevents, which have negative economic and social consequences for the affectedpopulation.Disaster preparedness is defined as measures taken to prepare for and reduce theeffects of disasters in four phases. This is to predict and, where possible, preventdisasters, mitigate their impact on vulnerable populations, respond toeffectively, and cope with consequences. This definition gives clear concise words toinfer what takes place during preparation stages. Reduce, predict, and prevent, are allactionable things apart of the mitigation entity of disaster preparedness. This type ofpreparedness dates back to the early 20th century.
Before then, disasterswere addressed by providing compensation to those most affected. According to DavidMcEntire, ” Mitigation refers to several things, including risk reduction, lossminimization, or the alleviation of potential negative impacts associated withdisasters (McEntire, 2015 p.4).Therefore, hazard mitigation is anyaction taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property fromnatural hazards. In1944 The Flood Control Act was implemented giving the U.
S. the ability to designand construct dams in order to prevent river floods from occurring. Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and EmergencyAssistance was signed into law November 23, 1988; it amended the DisasterRelief Act of 1974. This actconstitutes the statutory authority for most federal disaster responseactivities. In thepast 40 years the United States has worked diligently to incorporate disasterpreparedness into the workings of government. These efforts include corporations such as theEmergency Broadcast System and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),an agency implemented due to the number of disasters taking place in the U.
S. FEMA plays a criticalrole in meeting the needs of affected populations by servicing small businessloans, personal property detainment, temporary housing, emergency food,unemployment assistance, and home repair. These services are meant to transition adisaster survivor back into a normal pace of living. As time and society evolves, naturaldisasters become more of a danger to the world.
Hurricane Floyd, which destroyed an entirecommunity, highlights on how disaster preparedness is not yet where it needs tobe. September16, 1999 Hurricane Floyd being a category two storm made landfall. In additionto the storm surge from Hurricane Floyd, another storm came through and dropped16 inches of rain. This chain of events placed the town of Princeville, NCcompletely under water. More than 700 homes were destroyed, and 52 lives werelost.
In response, FEMA handed out $26 million to Princeville’s more than 2,000residents and another $1.5million to the town to rebuild after Floyd’s floodwaters recede (Bowens, 2011). This still wasinsufficient and did not bring Princeville where it needed to be, nor keeppeople in the community.
In his article “Reclaiming SacredGround,” Victor Blue recorded that before the 1999 flood that hit Princeville,the community had been living and fighting through disaster after disaster. Major floods occurredtwo years after the community’s founding and again in 1919, 1924, 1928, 1940and 1958. Timeafter time, residents evacuated, came back and rebuilt. But residents grewfatigued of this periodic disruption of their lives without sustainablesolutions for mitigation and repair.
In 1967, a 3-mile long levee was completed toprotect the city from being flooded by the Tar River. The community was backon its feet and thriving. Moving forward to August of2005, Hurricane Katrina Struck the gulf cost as a category 3 hurricane with100-140 mile an hour winds. The storm did great damage. Similar to PrincevilleN.C, the storm surge caused the levees to break, which made this eventcatastrophic. When the levees broke it placed New Orleans under water resultingin massive deaths, and destroyed properties. There were high amounts ofscrutiny placed on FEMA from the citizens of the United States.
The victims ofthe storm were outraged at how delayed the government on all three levels waswith providing relief. With these two events being a pivotal milestone foremergency manage how did government change to provide more effective servicewhen dealing with disasters? This paper will discuss the issue with disasterpreparedness and hazard mitigation, compare and contrast the history andpresent time as it relates to past and current events, and give policy implications.PROBLEM Understanding the Princeville flood andHurricane Katrina can provide deep insight concerning issues surroundingdisaster preparedness, performance and effectiveness. As previously stated,FEMA gave $26 million to the Princeville community and another $7 million inthe form of grants. All of the money was invested in one community.
However,today there is no evidence of what has come of it. Some may believe this is dueto the low economic and cultural value. The Housing and Urban Developmentorganization at this time was also facing turmoil that lead to victory inlegislation.
In 1998, Congress approved housing reforms toreduce segregation by race and income (Congress 2013). In studying theevacuation decisions of African Americans during Katrina, Wilson et al (2010)found racial barriers. These barriers included low socioeconomic status, havinglittle money, a perceived need to stay and protect valuables due toneighborhood crime and violence, alleged racism in evacuation transportation,and apathy towards low-income African Americans on the part of officials. Alsoregarding Katrina, Wilson et al (2010) recorded that many residents of NewOrleans were confused about what to do because of inappropriate timing andmandatory evacuation orders. There are other factors that affect issuesconcerning disasters and evacuation methods including past experience, traffic,immobility, lack of transportation, limited social capital and desire toshelter in place. After reviewing literature about both thePrinceville flood of 1999, and Hurricane Katrina it is clear that the mainissues with disaster preparedness include, but are not limited to, monetaryfunds, low economic value in communities, government’s ineffectiveness inwarning procedures, mitigation requirements, and recovery protocol, all ofwhich will be looked at when going into the history of disaster preparedness.
REVIEW OF LITERATUREThe Federal Government has been involved indisaster preparedness and hazard mitigation in the United States for over 200years. Government involvement began December 26, 1802 when a fire burned downPortsmouth, New Hampshire, destroying most of the large areas of this importantseaport. The fire was so devastating it threatened commerce throughout thenortheast section of the nation. Days later, Congress suspended bond paymentfor several months and redirected those funds to disaster recovery, which inturn created the first act of federal disaster relief in American history. In the past 40 years the FederalGovernment has worked on creating and evolving the way the United States handlesdisaster preparedness. In 1970, President Nixon implemented the DisasterAssistance Act (DAA), which codified all disaster relief legislation to date,and made hazard mitigation a federal priority. This act created a lifeline forindividuals to receive federal loans and tax assistance in order to holdtemporary housing and relocation for disaster survivors. As the storms evolvedso did the legislation toward disaster preparedness.
In 1974 The DisasterRelief Act (DRA) was put in place and amended the DAA to distinguishemergencies from major disasters, establish a declaration process, andemphasize long-term recovery. This act instilled economic recovery programs formajor disaster areas, initiated mitigation plans and projects, and providedgrants to states for the development of plans and prevention. Asstated previously, The Robert T.
Stafford Disaster Relief and EmergencyAssistance Act of 1988 amended the DRA to encourage local and state governmentsto develop extensive disaster preparedness plans, prepare for intergovernmentalcoordination in the face of disaster, and provide federal assistance programsdue to a disaster. The United States saw some problems with giving federalassistance without a mitigation plan, foreseeing an extensive amount of unnecessaryspending if local and state governments were not prepared for a possiblenatural or manmade disaster. Thus, it created the Disaster Mitigation Act of2000. This act repealed the mitigation planning provisions and required localmitigation plans as a condition of increased federal funding. Hurricane Katrinawas one of emergency management’s greatest fails, as it was not prepared forthe massive hurricane that totaled New Orleans. After the federal emergencymanagement system failed, the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act(PKEMRA) was created. This act requires Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) to develop improved disaster recovery planning guidance.
Additionally in the interest of disasterpreparedness and long-term recovery, FEMA developed the National DisasterRecovery Framework (NDRF). NDRF was adopted in September 2011, for use by otherfederal inter-agency partners to analyze and improve existing data, andmaterials. This will enable better data-centric decisions and encourage thetarget community to recover more effectively following disaster-related events.
The most recent change in emergency managementlegislation was President Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive 8: NationalPreparedness (PPD-8). This directive is intended to guide how different levelsof government and local citizens can work to prevent, protect against,mitigate, respond, and recover from threats that pose the greatest risk,natural or manmade, to the security of the nation. Having a basis of how emergency management hasevolved is a great tool in order to move forward in protecting and mitigatingthe U.S from future disasters.
There are still pros and cons that need to beaddressed when dealing with emergency management. Resiliency is a relatively newconcept in United States disaster preparedness practices. Acknowledging thatnatural and manmade disasters will occur, increasing resiliency will givesociety the ability to bounce back more effectively. Busch (2013) states thatthis method represents an evolution in U.
S. disaster preparedness as a whole.He identifies with the fact that the government stresses disaster preparedness(measures taken before a disaster), however, they do not fortify with the actof resiliency.
The government’s use of pre and post procedural checklist ofactions to be taken can be more effective if they not only enforce thepreparation efforts but also long-term recovery. Low-income communities are alsotremendously affected by disasters and the plans concerning evacuating themfrom the destroyed areas. According to Hufstader (2013) Katrina brought issuesof race and class to the forefront. He describes the strategies for disasterpreparedness for African American and Latinos as vulnerable. He states thatKatrina demonstrated the absence of a functional link between low-incomecommunities and emergency management teams.
The authority’s inability tocommunicate effectively in these communities shows a marginalization in theUnited States disaster preparedness model. Although there are some flaws in thegovernment’s ability to produce effective outcomes in emergency management, theDepartment of Homeland Security has plans in place to assure some form ofimproved disaster assistance. The Public Housing Disaster Preparedness Act of2013 is a great example of this. This act requires the Secretary of Housing andUrban Development to require each public housing agency that owns, operates, orassists at least 500 dwelling units to develop a disaster response and reliefplan.
Federal Emergency Management Agency has fourphases put in place to help individuals and communities get through a naturalor manmade disaster. These for phases include mitigation, preparedness,response, and recovery. Contrary to Hufstader (2013), FEMA has created a wayfor all who are affected by a disaster to receive help. Emergency managementagencies no longer need approval from local or state government once a nationaldisaster has been declared in an area. This type of urgency was implementedafter Katrina (PKEMRA). Take the recent flooding in Louisiana for example:walking through the four phases of emergency management, FEMA has completedeach phase with forcefulness. The FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team(IMAT) created the preparedness phase by working with local and stategovernment in Louisiana to create a plan to ensure safety of citizens.
Once theflooding occurred and receded back into the rivers, FEMA sent in their DisasterSurvivor Assistance (DSA) teams to respond by canvassing areas seeking thoseaffected by the disaster. Furthermore, setting up Disaster Recovery Centers inlow-income areas to help get survivors registered for assistance. The NDRF, aspreviously discussed, is a framework to work on the long-term recovery as wellas mitigation. They provide the third and fourth phase of emergency management.The NDRF comes in and works with local government and officials on how they canwork together to bring back their communities to pre-disaster standard. Theyalso find ways to use the damaged areas to rebuild and mitigate futuredisasters in the same areas and homes. EVALUATION After reviewing the history, past andcurrent disasters, it is clear that there have been improvements in the scopeof disaster preparedness.
Evaluating the current disasters that are takingplace in the United States, emergency management activity has been at anall-time high. Taking a look at the most recent disaster in Louisiana whichflooded more than 5,000 homes, emergency officials have stepped in and providedalternative housing for displaced survivors until water recedes. Currentlythere are seven evacuation shelters throughout northern Louisiana. In a little over one month, FEMA hasregistered 36,572 residents over for assistance, and granted over $75 millionto survivors, $58 million for housing assistance and $15 million in other needsassistance. Emergency response to the Princeville disaster lacked the abilityfor private and public sector to work together with local and state governmentofficials. Currently, those partnerships have improved tremendously. TheHousing Urban Development organization now works with different governmentagencies to ensure low-income areas receive fair housing opportunity after adisaster.
During the time ofpreparation, The National Weather Center was tracking Katrina very closely.They provided accurate information to all three levels of government. Theyissued an apocalyptic advisory providing information on what will happen uponimpact of Katrina. Officials knew that mass flooding was going to happen,instant death to those exposed to the storm, properties were going to bedestroyed. But still, no extra measures were taken to combat these situations.The government on all three levels was not prepared for the aftermath ofhurricane Katrina.CONCLUSION The inner workings of disaster preparednesswill need to continue evolving as the United States faces more and moredisasters. After analyzing literature, it is very certain that emergencymanagement is making tremendous strides.
Princeville, which was once a greattown, was not helped economically in order to bring the citizens back torebuild once more. This was in large part due to socioeconomic and racialdisparity. Congress approved legislation to relinquish race as a means ofsegregation in communities in 1998; however, this reform had not yet truly beenenforced when the Princeville disaster occurred. Therefore, residents ofPrinceville did not fully benefit from the reform and the residents wereprevented from full recovery. Now, there is a partnership between HUD and FEMAto ensure low-income communities have equal opportunities regarding housingafter a disaster. This more adequately addresses issues of income disparitywhen a disaster occurs.
New Orleans, although not helped effectively byemergency management after Hurricane Katrina, is now back to some pre-disasterstandard of a functioning community. FEMA’s disaster plans for the futureinclude preventing loss of life and injuries and avoiding unnecessary expensesprior to the time a disaster strikes through improved infrastructure andmitigation. NDRF and its long-term recovery work is a significant stride inachieving this goal. The past 40 years in disaster management have tested thework of the government to ensure safety among citizens of the United States.
Although some methods have failed in the past, current disaster readiness andthe improvements in emergency management methods provide hope for futuredisaster preparedness and mitigation efforts. Limitation/Recommendations The Federal Emergency Management Agencypolicies include fostering a whole community approach to emergency managementnationally, building the nations capacity to stabilize and recover from events,building unity of effort and common strategies, and enhancing FEMA’s ability tolearn and innovate. Looking on a community level, the Housing and UrbanDevelopment organization is working with FEMA to design national disasterresilience.
The limitation with this policy is that there is not enoughforesight of natural disasters before they occur. If the goal is to reach allcommunities then there should be informational programs in place to help inthis effort. I recommend that FEMA work with local and state governments acrossthe U.S. to provide statewide emergency management testing and drills.
It wouldbe beneficial to create an innovative ways to work with all communities totrain, prepare, and assist in any type of disaster.Public safety organizations have major influenceson disaster response, by providing first responders. Local and state safety officialsplay a key role in many operations including search and rescue, evacuations,door-to-door checks, and maintaining overall public safety within thecommunity. Responding to disasters is a shared responsibility. Those that arepart of these organizations are aware that emergency management planning is forall hazards and that it takes effort to keep our community safe.
Public safetyprofessionals will be impacted by this policy change through teaching,training, and preparing citizens for future disasters. This may impact anagency’s need of more officials, as this task may need its own separatedivision. This could possibly create new jobs for civilian or sworn local andstate officer.