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Natural Disasters and Declarations: How Did We Not See This Coming?

Silas is a safety inspector and received a master of science in safety and MBA.

Natural Disasters and Declarations: How Did We Not See this One Coming

Natural Disasters and Declarations: How Did We Not See this One Coming

Natural disasters have existed over the last century and presented devastating effects. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Natural (NOAA) identified disasters that cost the nation $306 billion (Consortium for Ocean Leadership, 2018). Billion-dollar disaster costs require better measures to reduce costs and protect the population. Throughout time, hurricanes continue to exist while the changes to natural disaster policy and procedures evolved. According to Rubin (2012), in 1950, the federal government established the Federal Disaster Assistance Act.

The act enabled the president to issue disaster declarations to route supplies, personnel, and equipment to affected natural disaster areas. While the act presented a proactive policy and procedure, the federal government reinforced a natural disaster's primary responsibility on the state and local governments. Thus, the federal government's role shifted during the second half of the 20th century to a supplemental role. Declarations from each president's administration aided relief following hurricane events presented from 2003 to 2012. Each of the hurricanes listed in the table below identifies the state, event, relief amount, and the president who signed the declaration.

Declaration and FEMA Relief Amount, 2005 & 2012

Declaration and FEMA Relief Amount, 2005 & 2012.https://www.fema.gov/disasters/disaster-declarations

Declaration DateStateEventFEMA Relief $President

2005

Louisiana

Hurricane Katrina

5.2 Billion

G.W. Bush

2012

Maryland

Hurricane Sandy

2.5 Million

Obama

This article suggests whether the nation learned from each hurricane outcome, met its goal, and did the government prepare for the next natural disaster. Determining whether a proactive approach existed provides a better outcome that best represents emergency management during the 21st century.

2020 Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters

2020 Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters

Lessons Learned After the Event

Following the aftermath of an event, a hurricane presents many lessons learned. According to Rubin (2012), emergency management involves mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. Hurricanes have delivered unacceptable risks across the nation. Five hurricane outcomes presented million in relief efforts from declarations signed by the President of the United States. Signing declarations provided monies and resources to aid after the event occurred.

According to Haddow et al. (2011), legislation for declarations improved the political climate, although it did not correct the federal government's systematic problems concerning resource shortfalls. Instead, the federal system should focus on preparedness, evacuation, resources, and response. Having a long-term strategy to mitigate risk and recovery efforts improves emergency management. An analysis of several hurricane events will show whether the state was ready for the occurrence.

Hurricane Katrina presented problems for the state of Louisiana in 2005.

Hurricane Katrina presented problems for the state of Louisiana in 2005.

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina presented problems for the state of Louisiana in 2005. President Bush signed a declaration for a five billion dollar relief package to aid Louisiana and the city of New Orleans. According to FEMA (2006), contributing failures occurred during Hurricane Katrina. Long-term warnings existed as the federal government neglected duties to prepare for such a catastrophe. Next, insufficient actions existed at the federal level, as poor decisions existed before and after the event. Systems for response failed along with effective leadership.

Since the failures occurred overtime before the event, the United States was unprepared for this magnitude hurricane. According to Haddow et al. (2011), following September 11, 2001, FEMA lost its independent agency status and absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Therefore, the FEMA director who tasked and directed during the disasters remained outside of the cabinet secretaries. State governments followed the example by creating homeland security offices. Anti-terrorism entities presented competitive status against emergency management that complicated the scenario.

State-level governments failed to provide sufficient resources that botched the plan through delayed preparation and response. According to Haddow et al. (2011), Hurricane Katrina presented a transition to developing an organization to take a proactive approach at the federal, state, and local governments. By standardizing policy and procedures allows the entities to become agile, effective, and robust. Standardization remains a critical part of emergency management.

In addition to the federal and state policy, public outreach remains a priority in evacuation programs. Therefore, measures to standardize procedure at each entity level require a collaborative effort to prepare the public for the event and allow response teams to attend to the disaster. Thus, collaborative efforts among emergency management offices provide safety to the affected population.

 While Sandy disrupted power and caused property damage, the response did not meet the community's needs.

While Sandy disrupted power and caused property damage, the response did not meet the community's needs.

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy affected residents of Maryland and afforded a test of FEMA's abilities. According to FEMA (2013), President Obama signed a declaration for a two and a half-million-dollar aid package as the storm triggered flooding, damage to transportation networks, and critical infrastructure. While Sandy disrupted power and caused property damage, the response did not meet the community's needs.

FEMA recognized that planning for more significant, more severe disasters remains a preparedness priority. Following Hurricane Sandy, FEMA analyzed preparations, response, and recovery efforts from the storm. Improvements to the emergency management program included ensuring unity during a federal reply, being survivor-centric, fostering unity across the entire community, and developing an agile workforce. FEMA vowed to commit to the lessons learned from the response through recovery and develop solutions.

Information and lessons learned exist from Hurricane Katrina exist from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Years after 2005, FEMA learned from studies in specific areas while other tasks went unnoticed. According to Kamerling (2016), aside from the FEMA reorganizational structure and policy changes, lessons learned involved processes. Improved communication and a unified and coordinated system to improve situational awareness presented itself during Hurricane Sandy.

However, failures exist through the performance of employees to perform specific emergency management tasks. For example, lessons identified and developed into regulation were unknown by many FEMA employees during the Sandy emergency response. Next, a further review must distinguish whether training gaps exist or the organizational culture produces failure. Next, FEMA does not have sufficient analysis metrics or capabilities to analyze its operational performance properly. Training, culture, and analysis complications suggest that challenges exist to measure whether FEMA meets or exceeds public expectations

Hurricane response and community needs remain unchanged as hurricanes produce a devastating outcome through reactive measures.

Hurricane response and community needs remain unchanged as hurricanes produce a devastating outcome through reactive measures.

Hurricane Response and Community Needs

Hurricane response and community needs remain unchanged as hurricanes produce a devastating outcome through reactive measures. States have the power to respond to small emergencies and present limited assistance when a disaster exceeds their capability. Declarations support state and local governments with limited resources. According to Rubin (2011), several presidents responded to events through disaster declarations. After each event, additional mitigation requirements existed to minimize the effects of disasters.

Next, presidents and Congress passed more regulations and policies to improve FEMA. The Army Corps of Engineers and the National Weather Service began supporting emergency management through proactive methods. Technology advancements enabled the prediction of hurricanes through models to depict the path and strength. The Army Corps of Engineers build dikes and structures to prevent communities from flooding. Storms present devastating effects that require methods that manage emergency management in a proactive means of oversight. Lessons learned from each hurricane provide information about what went wrong and, more importantly, what went right.

Hurricane hazards exist, and conclude a few findings.

Hurricane hazards exist, and conclude a few findings.

Aftermath

Hurricane hazards exist, and conclude a few findings. The goal remains for organizations to focus on delivering supplies to victims. Tracking and accountability supported the recovery effort by reducing the response effort. Standardizing policy requires a collaborative effort to prepare the public for an event and allow response teams to respond to the disaster. Emergency and disaster management requires preparedness planning at the community level to reduce a disaster's effect through proactive measures.

Declarations provided individual assistance requested by the Governor available to people affected by devastating hurricanes. Finally, FEMA did not have sufficient analysis metrics or capabilities to analyze their operational performance following Hurricane Sandy properly. Training, culture, and analysis complications suggest that challenges exist to measure whether FEMA meets public expectations and produces effective emergency management oversight. Each of the hurricanes presented lessons learned from several season. Thus, emergency management requires a proactive approach to ensure the process protects the public against an impending hazard.

References

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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