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Disaster Management and Political Theories

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This paper on disaster management and political theories examines the processes and conflicts of managing tragic events through some selected case study of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans and others. It critically uses the theoretical and analytical resources to explain the above incident how it occurred and its political responses. The disaster and the following government response to it brought about uncertainty and insecurity in most of the United States cities,(Bryant, 2005).,

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) refers to an agency within the United States Department of Homeland Security. The main function of this agency is to coordinate to the responses to disasters that have occurred in United States. Such disasters must be very demanding in terms of resource requirements from the local and state authorities, (George D. Haddow, 2008).

The Katrina disaster occurred in the year 2005. This was a flood disaster in New Orleans city of United States. The government department of homeland security, FEMA was heavily criticized for its poor response towards this tragedy. It was criticized due to its slow initial response to evacuate people from the area of the tragedy that could have saved the lives of people who suffered the disaster, (Bryant, 2004).

The FEMA response personnel in the Gulf Coast region could not provide any assistance to the affected at that time, what they only did was to report the incident in New Orleans to the state head office. Instead, national guards and the army were taken to the place as a rescue team. Large number of people were affected and needed to be removed from the area. Flood water in the city curtailed transport and communication network in the city, (Daniel, 2006). This was the first test for the US’s new disaster response plan under DHS which was initially said to have no emergence plans for any emergency disasters and indeed it was.

As a result of that the sluggish response to the disaster, US House of Representatives selected Bipartisan Committee to investigate the preparation for the Katrina and after the Katrina disaster. This was done so as to investigate the role played by FEMA to mitigate the effect of Katrina in New Orleans city. It was noted that DHS and FEMA had insufficient knowledge and experience in handling such disasters, there was reduced federal response to the emergencies. A lot of blame was laid on FEMA for failing the country in protecting the victims from the effects of Katrina. FEMA was running out of its mandate as a state agency.

The head of the committee finalized that the loss of FEMA’s ways was due to the separation of the preparedness function from it and the department of homeland security. It was again realized that it had a long term staffing problem accompanied with training and experience in disaster management. Organizational structure was also a major problem as was witnessed by the committee chairman. The organization was also unable to sufficiently provide for the Katrina evacuates with relief services something that worried the commission. As a result it was given up to February 7th 2007 as the deadline for temporal housing of the Katrina victims, (Daniel, 2006).

The Hurricane Katrina disaster was commonly seen by many people as a natural disaster which interfered with the lives space and organizations of people in New Orleans. The research and planning organizations in US followed there plan to reconstruct the damaged soil. This was in contrary with the socialists and some scholars who have viewed the incident from a different perspective. The racial and class setting of the people of New Orleans had suggested the sociological embeddedness which clearly indicated the dynamism of the past, present and future socio-economical context of this people. This shows the society of weak, strong and differentiated class of people in an environment that was hit by the disaster.

The Katrina disaster destructed and disrupted lives, space and institutions that used to function before. So the major thing after the incident was to facilitate the recovery of the above. But in contrast to that the sociological theorists, various scholars, politician among others saw the New Orleans disaster as natural or human-made or technologically caused by man as well as historical process. During the reconstruction process, little attention given to the local knowledge and participatory planning of the exercise, (Ishimaya, 2010).

The other limit of explaining the New Orleans incident from the traditional systems theory is that it just maintains the fiction that the activities and the social actors appear to be bound together and yet they are seen to be independent of one another. This was seen in the autonomous structures of the government departments during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. The systems of funding the recovery exercise also proved that the prevention, recovery or response institutions were separate from each other, (Bryant, 2005).

For instance, the Federal Emergency management agency which deals with  proving services of temporal housing facilities in New Orleans and the United States housing department and Urban development responsible for long term concerns. The two departments are separate and nobody has raised any alarm over their integration. This made the emergency exercise tedious.

The other areas that has also been working independently in New Orleans include the education, job training, transportation, employment and child care the residents of this area believes that the areas was  important in  the development of the area economy before ,during and after the Katrina although they were separate. Other scholars argue on the contemporary based scholarship to the poor students that could have given more information about the situation in Katrina, (Daniel, 2006). This is because the contemporary based scholarship put emphasis on the changing process that are able to have connections with the parts of the system taken to be almost mutually constitutive. This shows that the majority of the families in New Orleans are low income earners.

Under rational choice theory of the role of the state, the cost benefit analysis associated with Hurricane Katrina and the possible future consequences are studied. Once individual people choice the crime to engage in and the opportunities the can gain from it, they consider the factors that can favor their act. The type of crime or fraud that occurred in Katrina was specific and more temporally bounded to the circumstances. That is why it can be less investigated. The possibilities of committing it were there because of the Katrina disaster and events that followed aftermath.  

FEMA could not meet its mandate of rescuing the people of New Orleans simply because the procedure that was involved before action was taken was lengthy. This was a crime following the various officials in the department of homeland security under which the organization exists. Here the responsible individual might have escape the blame through the law as it did not guarantee the junior to take an action without an authority from the on top of him, (Nelson, 1983). It was east to do it because the risk of being caught was minimal. It was also seen to be victimless crime and those responsible for it needed the money.

FEMA was also giving out relive services including money to victims of the Katrina. After the disaster one needed no skills and equipment to fraudulent FEMA money. One was needed to have only a phone or a computer with an internet connection. The can begin benefiting with money not less than$2000 in emergency assistance, (Danniel,2006). This was only possible after one has registered with FEMA. The benefit of being in New Orleans at that time outweighed the cost of having registration and the aftermath cost of the disaster.

Thus FEMA together with the support of the Defense Logistic Agency worked hand in hand to supply the affected victims with Humanitarian General Purpose Tent Systems (HGPTS) to American Samoa after the 2009 tsunami. This was an emergency to the impeding dangers of the bad weather conditions. From the previous incidence in Katrina crisis the disaster management team under the control of an agency known as FEMA was very active and responsive to the disasters. Changes were made in its organization structures as some of its leader were forced to resign due to the poor responses to the previous emergencies.

During the occurrence of disasters such as Katrina or earthquakes in the states of America, there is a department within the Homeland defense security known as FEMA that is destined with the responsibility for coordinating assistance to the affected people and area in terms of resources,(Carter,1999). This branch within the homeland security department was created in 1979 basically for the purpose of identifying and emergency and preventing the effects of the disaster to many people. Thus it identifies the areas of agent need to the disaster and supplies the necessary resources as well as mitigating the consequence to many people.

This state agency, FEMA has also established guidelines in which the national response framework can be able to identify the state roles, principles and structures to be followed by the governments in response to the disaster strike in the country. This procedure has helped to identify the procedure of coordinate the state, local and federal resources in assisting to settle the affected people, providing relief foods or materials and rebuilding the affected areas,(Cutter, 2001).

Among the states role to during the disaster management exercise is to seek and mitigate the degree of the present risk before it spreads to other areas of the country. There may be dangerous situations in the scene of the disaster such as the presence of polluted water supplies and damaged power lines and inadequate housing which the state must act with immediate effect to curtail its impact on the population. Sometimes due to the large number of people affected, there may be disorder in the scenery that may require state intervention in terms of guards to maintain order.

The other role of the state in protecting the population from further effects of the disaster involves the establishment of the emergency response teams. In US, FEMA is an emergency response team that is established throughout its states in the country. These branches established throughout the country acts as the federal government during the times of emergencies. The team members are trained in different specialties by the National Disaster Medical System. These specializations include medical assistance, mobile emergency support and mortuary operations. They are meant to provide services to the victims of any crisis such as medication.

The agency is entitled with the responsibility of communicating the events of the disaster to the government. The information about the embedding danger is necessary to the government and the public at large so as to plan for evacuation of people in the adjacent areas prone to the disaster. The government needs this information to plan for more back-ups incase it will be required in terms of resources and relief services, also to find ways of reducing the magnitude of the disaster if available.

Unfortunately the federal emergency managers have management knowledge in disaster but due to bureaucracies in the state department of homeland security, they could not make immediate decision concerning how to handle the crisis at hand. That is why it was difficult for FEMA to act immediately on the Katrina other than just communicating to the state. According to the William Cumming, an official from FEMA,’ the real disaster tradition was oral and not in writing, it had procedures to be followed’, (Nelson, 1983). The information concerning its operation was hidden from the general employees such that it’s the general officials who are in access. Thus management was highly personalized.

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