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Period

Before Katrina (140)
Pre-Impact Katrina (195)
During Katrina (76)
Immediate Katrina Aftermath (19)
After Katrina (3)

Organization

Federal (140)
Federal: FEMA (64)
Louisiana: State (73)
Louisiana: NOLA (46)
Louisiana: SELA (42)
Mississippi: State (4)
Mississippi: Biloxi (0)
Mississippi: Gulfport (0)
Mississippi: Other Local (0)
Alabama: State (0)
Florida: State (0)
States: Other States (0)
Private Sector (19)
Academia/Professional (0)
Media (27)
NGOs (17)
General Public (9)

Knowledge

Flood Risk (28)
Evacuation Problem (22)
Public Safety Risk (3)
Environmental Risk (5)
Organization Capacity
Levee Breach/Flooding (58)
Sheltering (1)
Response Level (1)
Advisories (81)
Increased Chance of Hurricane (1)

Disaster Management Legislation Relevant to Katrina

Legislation (3)

Emergency Preparedness/Response Plans

Evacuation (13)
Shelter (4)
Response (7)
Recovery (1)

Policies that Affected Intensity of Katrina Impact

Environmental Policies/Programs (16)
Land Development (3)
Flood Control Programs (23)
Disaster Mitigation (12)
Disaster Preparedness (11)
Resource Allocation (29)
FEMA Restructuring (16)
Outsourcing (5)
Political Patronage (9)

Progress and Impact Hurricane Katrina

Florida (3)
Louisiana: State (2)
Louisiana: NOLA (20)
Louisiana: SELA (18)
Mississippi: Local (0)
Mississippi: State (0)
Mississippi: Biloxi (0)
Mississippi: Gulfport (0)
Mississippi: Other Local (0)
Alabama: State (0)

Execution of Emergency Plans

Evacuation (22)
Sheltering (2)
Emergency Response (122)
Other States' Assistance (0)

Response in Wake of Katrina Disaster

Response to Evacuation Execution (0)
Response to Emergency Response (1)
Investigations (0)

Recovery from Katrina

Infrastructure (bridges; roads) (0)
Governmental Services (water, electricity, etc) (0)
Industry (oil industry, etc.) (0)
citizenship (0)

Statements

Policies (5)
Warnings (15)
Plans (0)
Mitigation (4)
Katrina (6)
Execution of Emergency Plans (25)
Response (0)
Recovery (0)

Specific Cases and Issues

Coastal Wetlands (27)

Other

Other (3)
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Hurricane Katrina

 
  

Project: Hurricane Katrina

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(Before June 2002): FEMA Memo Reveals High-Level Concerns that Proposed Merger with DHS Will Degrade Disaster Response Capabilities

       In a memo to FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh, the agency's inspector general relays concerns over the Bush administration's proposal to merge FEMA, along with several other agencies, into the newly-constituted new Department of Homeland Security. “There are concerns of FEMA losing its identity as an agency that is quick to respond to all hazards and disasters,” the inspector general writes. [Independent Weekly, 9/22/2004]
People and organizations involved: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Joeseph M. Allbaugh
          

July 2002: Think Tank Warning: Proposed FEMA-DHS Merger Will Harm Nation's Ability to Respond to Natural Disasters

       The Brookings Institution publishes a report warning that merging FEMA into the Department of Homeland Security will harm the agency's capability to respond to natural disasters. “While a merged FEMA might become highly adept at preparing for and responding to terrorism, it would likely become less effective in performing its current mission in case of natural disasters as time, effort and attention are inevitably diverted to other tasks within the larger organization.” [Brookings Institution, 7/2002; Independent Weekly, 9/22/2004]
People and organizations involved: Brookings Institution, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security
          

After March 1, 2003: FEMA Reportedly Experiences Massive ‘Brain Drain’ and Focus Shift

       After FEMA is incorporated into the Department of Homeland Security (see March 1, 2003), veteran FEMA employees complain of a massive “brain drain.” FEMA “has gone downhill within the department, drained of resources and leadership,” I.M. “Mac” Destler, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, will tell the Washington Post shortly after the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster. At least one veteran FEMA staff member, Pleasant Mann, complains on the record about the changes FEMA is undergoing (see Mid-September 2004). [Washington Post, 9/9/2005] Local officials complain that FEMA's new focus on terrorism threatens other necessary prevention programs. “With the creation of Homeland Security, [natural disaster prevention programs] have taken a backseat,” says Walter Maestri, emergency management director in Jefferson Parish. “To us, it is pretty obvious which is the greater threat. One is maybe, the other is when.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/8/2004]
People and organizations involved: Department of Homeland Security, Michael D. Brown, Federal Emergency Management Agency
          

April 29, 2004: GAO Report: National Guard Response Ability Harmed by Diversion of Troops to Iraq

       The General Accounting Office releases a report, titled “Reserve Forces: Observations on Recent National Guard Use in Overseas and Homeland Missions and Future Challenges,” which warns that the nationwide diversion of National Guard troops to Iraq could have a significant negative impact on the Guard's ability to respond to domestic emergencies. “[There are] urgent personnel and equipment shortages in units that have not yet been deployed,” the report says. “[E]quipment and personnel may not be available to the states when they are needed because they have been deployed overseas. Moreover, the Guard may have difficulty ensuring that each state has access to units with key specialized capabilities—such as engineering or medical assets—needed for homeland security and other domestic missions. ... [U]nless DOD, Congress, and the states work closely to address these challenges, Guard units may continue to experience a high pace of operations and declining readiness that could affect their ability to meet future requirements both at home and overseas.” [GAO, 4/29/2004]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Defense, National Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency, US Congress
          

May 13, 2004: Experts: Diversion of National Guard Troops to Iraq Has Harmed Disaster Response Capabilities

       The Associated Press reports that disaster management experts and National Guard officials are concerned that the diversion of National Guard Troops to Iraq has severely degraded the Guard's ability to effectively respond to domestic emergencies, such as natural disasters. The newswire reports that “[m]ore Guard members are deployed now than have been since the Korean War, about a quarter of the 460,000 nationwide.” Chris Reynolds, a battalion fire chief in Tampa, Fla. and instructor of disaster management at American Military University, says the Guard's more frequent and longer overseas deployments “absolutely” affect states' ability to respond to emergencies. The significance of the massive deployment goes beyond the sheer number troops that are missing, he explains, what's so worrisome is that many of the reservists who have been sent to Iraq work in public safety and emergency response. “It's the tenure and experience that's missing, and you can't simply fill the hole with someone,” Reynolds says. [Associated Press, 5/13/2004]
People and organizations involved: National Guard, Chris Reynolds
          

(Before June 2004): FEMA Acutely Aware Danger to New Orleans Posed by Hurricane

       Consistent with its strategy to outsource disaster management functions (see Summer 2004), FEMA solicits bids for a contract to develop a hurricane disaster management plan for Southeastern Louisiana. FEMA's “Scope of Work” for the contract demonstrates that it is acutely aware of the region's vulnerability to hurricanes, and of the inadequacy of current plans to manage a major hurricane effectively. According to the document, FEMA and the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness “believe that the gravity of the situation calls for an extraordinary level of advance planning to improve government readiness to respond effectively to such an event.” FEMA describes the catastrophe that will result when a hurricane strikes Southeastern Louisiana. For example, FEMA writes that “the emergency management community has long feared the occurrence of a catastrophic disaster” that would cause “unprecedented levels of damage, casualties, dislocation, and disruption that would have nationwide consequences and jeopardize national security.” It cites “various hurricane studies” predicting that “a slow-moving Category 3 or almost any Category 4 or 5 hurricane approaching Southeast Louisiana from the south could severely damage the heavily populated southeast portion of the state creating a catastrophe with which the State would not be able to cope without massive help from neighboring states and the Federal Government.” FEMA also expressly recognizes that “existing plans, policies, procedures and resources” are inadequate to effectively manage such a “mega-disaster.” The work specified in the contract, awarded to Innovative Emergency Management (IEM) in early June (see June 3, 2004), is to be performed in three stages. During Stage I, scheduled for completion between May 19 and September 30, 2004, IEM will conduct a simulation exercise featuring a “catastrophic hurricane striking southeastern Louisiana” for local, state, and FEMA emergency officials. (FEMA will pay IEM $518,284 for this stage (see July 19-23, 2004)) IEM completes this stage when it conducts the “Hurricane Pam” exercise in July 2004 (see July 19-23, 2004). During Stage 2, IEM will develop a “full catastrophic hurricane disaster plan.” FEMA allocates $199,969 for this stage, which is to be completed between September 23, 2004 and September 30, 2005 (see September 23, 2004). The status of Stage 2 is currently unclear. [Committee on Government Reform Minority Office, 9/9/2005 Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004 (B), Department of Homeland Security, 2004] IEM apparently provides FEMA with a draft document titled “Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Functional Plan,” in August 2004. [IEM Draft Hurricane Functional Plan, 8/6/2004] The Times-Picayune will identify a later 109-page draft, dated September 20, 2004 [Times-Picayune, 9/9/2005] [Times-Picayune, 9/9/2005] , and the Chicago Tribune will report that as Hurricane Katrina bears down on Louisiana during the evening of August 28, 2005, emergency officials are working from a functional plan, based on the 2004 Hurricane Pam exercise, that is only a few months old. The third stage relates to earthquake planning for the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) in the Central United States. [Committee on Government Reform Minority Office, 9/9/2005; Chicago Tribune, 9/11/2005] The Scope of Work specifies that the contractor must plan for the following conditions:
“Over one million people would evacuate from New Orleans. Evacuees would crowd shelters throughout Louisiana and adjacent states.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“Hurricane surge would block highways and trap 300,000 to 350,000 persons in flooded areas. Storm surge of over 18 feet would overflow flood-protection levees on the Lake Pontchartrain side of New Orleans. Storm surge combined with heavy rain could leave much of New Orleans under 14 to 17 feet of water. More than 200 square miles of urban areas would be flooded.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“It could take weeks to ‘de-water’ (drain) New Orleans: Inundated pumping stations and damaged pump motors would be inoperable. Flood-protection levees would prevent drainage of floodwater. Breaching the levees would be a complicated and politically sensitive problem: The Corps of Engineers may have to use barges or helicopters to haul earthmoving equipment to open several hundred feet of levee.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“Rescue operations would be difficult because much of the area would be reachable only by helicopters and boats.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“Hospitals would be overcrowded with special-needs patients. Backup generators would run out of fuel or fail before patients could be moved elsewhere.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“The New Orleans area would be without electric power, food, potable water, medicine, or transportation for an extended time period.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“Damaged chemical plants and industries could spill hazardous materials.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“Standing water and disease could threaten public health.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“There would be severe economic repercussions for the state and region.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“Outside responders and resources, including the Federal response personnel and materials, would have difficulty entering and working in the affected area.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

People and organizations involved: Federal Emergency Management Agency
          

June 2004: FEMA Veteran Warns Congress of FEMA's Deterioration

       Pleasant Mann, a 16-year FEMA veteran who heads the agency's government employee union, writes a letter to Congress describing how FEMA has changed under the Bush administration. “Over the past three-and-one-half years, FEMA has gone from being a model agency to being one where funds are being misspent, employee morale has fallen, and our nation's emergency management capability is being eroded,” he writes. “Our professional staff [members] are being systematically replaced by politically connected novices and contractors.” [Independent Weekly, 9/22/2004]
People and organizations involved: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Bush administration, Pleasant Mann
          

July 27, 2005: National Emergency Management Association Criticizes Homeland Security Department Restructuring Proposal

       In a letter to Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), the leaders of a key Senate committee that oversees the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), a group of state emergency directors, denounces a proposal (see July 13, 2005) to transfer preparedness functions from FEMA to a new preparedness directorate elsewhere in DHS. The NEMA letter argues that the move would disconnect disaster planning staff, grants, and programs from the state, local, and federal agencies that are supposed to respond. “It would have an extremely negative impact on the people of this nation. ... Any unnecessary separation of these functions will result in a disjointed response and adversely impact the effectiveness of departmental operations.” David Liebersbach, president of NEMA and director of the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, says he believes that the motive behind the proposal relates to terrorism prevention efforts, which are very different than the types of efforts required to mitigate and manage natural disasters. “Losing [the] natural hazards emphasis for FEMA is getting to be quite a concern,” he says. “Prior to FEMA, the very programs that became FEMA were fragmented and were very difficult for states to interface with. Now you start taking pieces out.” [The Ledger, 8/21/2005; Wall Street Journal, 9/6/2005; Reuters, 9/17/2005] Now there is a “total lack of focus on natural-hazards preparedness,” he says. “[The emphasis on terrorism] indicates that FEMA's long-standing mission of preparedness for all types of disasters has been forgotten at DHS.” [Reuters, 9/17/2005]
People and organizations involved: David Liebersbach, National Emergency Management Association
          

August 1, 2005: National Guard Needs Equipment Currently in Iraq in Case of Major Hurricane

       ABC News reports that much of the Louisiana National Guard's equipment—including dozens of high-water vehicles, humvees, refuelers, and generators—is in Iraq. “The National Guard needs that equipment back home to support the homeland security mission,” Lt. Colonel Pete Schneider with the LA National Guard tells ABC. [ABC News, 8/1/2005]
          

Early September 2005: Officials and Experts Say FEMA's Ability to Respond to Disasters Significantly Degraded Since 2000

       A veteran FEMA official tells the Washington Post, “It's such an irony I hate to say it, but we have less capability today than we did on September 11.” Another official tells the newspaper: “ We are so much less than what we were in 2000. We've lost a lot of what we were able to do then.” Reprentative David E. Price (D) says, “What we were afraid of, and what is coming to pass, is that FEMA has basically been destroyed as a coherent, fast-on-its-feet, independent agency.” [Washington Post, 9/4/2005, pp A01] Similarly, Bill Waugh, an academic expert on emergency management at Georgia State University, tells the Wall Street Journal, “The events of the last week have shown is that over the last few years since 9/11 we have slowly disassembled our national emergency response system and put in its place something far inferior. We reinvented the wheel when we didn't need to and now have something that doesn't roll very well at all.” [Wall Street Journal, 9/6/2005]
          


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