Disaster Response and Homeland Security: What Works, What by James Miskel

By James Miskel

Hurricane Katrina is the newest in a chain of significant mess ups that weren't good controlled, however it isn't really more likely to be the final. type four and type five hurricanes will, in line with such a lot predictions, develop into either extra widespread and extra severe sooner or later as a result of international warming and/or average climate cycles. furthermore, it is usually acknowledged that one other terrorist assault at the usa is inevitable; that it's a query of whilst, no longer even if. upload to that the scare over a potential avian flu pandemic. accordingly, the us may still count on that catastrophe response―to ordinary and different different types of disasters―will remain of significant main issue to the yank public and the policymakers and officers who take care of catastrophe reaction and aid, together with the military.

The U.S. catastrophe aid software displays a simple department of accountability among federal, nation, and native governments that has generally stood the try out of time. on the federal point, a unmarried organisation, FEMA―now below the dep. of place of birth Security―has been charged with the accountability for coordinating the actions of a few of the federal businesses that experience a task in catastrophe aid. A winning catastrophe reaction calls for 3 issues: well timed and potent coordination among nation and federal governments; potent coordination one of the federal businesses; and powerful coordination among and between nation and native executive organisations. Miskel, a former Deputy Assistant affiliate Director of FEMA, examines the consequences that operational mess ups after Hurricanes Agnes, Hugo, Andrew, and Katrina have had at the organizational layout and working ideas of the catastrophe reaction method software. He additionally discusses the influence of September 11 and the evolving position of the army, and he identifies reforms that are meant to be applied to enhance the nation's skill to reply within the future.

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The other reason is that it serves as a reminder that the 23:38 P1: 000 GGBD014C02 Miskel/C9211 26 July 1, 2006 DISASTER RESPONSE AND HOMELAND SECURITY absolute dollar value of the damage wreaked by a disaster is not necessarily a good predictor of the success or failure of the government’s disaster relief operations. In all but a few of the billion-dollar disasters listed by NOAA, the disaster relief system functioned effectively. Surprisingly, a fifth of the “billion dollar weather disasters” are not what one usually thinks of as disasters, at least in the sense of an urgent, shortduration emergency situation in which victims need immediate assistance of one form or another because they have been forced out of their homes and the normal utilities and government services have been cut off.

Another two of the billion-dollar disasters are for unusually cold weather in Florida. The 1985 “billion dollar” freeze was declared a disaster under the FEMA program while the 1983 freeze was declared a disaster under the Agriculture Department program. In both cases, the disaster relief consisted of after-the-fact reimbursement to farmers and food processors. Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters: 20 hurricanes (including Hurricanes Katrina and Dennis in 2005) 14 floods 10 droughts/heat waves 9 severe storms 5 tornadoes 4 wild fires 2 crop freezes Wild fires, of course, require immediate response and the response can be quite hazardous for the firefighting crews.

Private sector responses would occur simultaneously in the community and at the state level. Local churches and chapters of the Red Cross and other nonprofit organizations would gear up immediately on their own accord to provide shelter and food for disaster victims. Utility companies would begin the process of restoring power as soon as it was safe to send repair crews into the affected neighborhoods. Within a matter of days insurance companies would ordinarily be providing extra personnel to expedite service for damage claims.

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