It has been a little over five years since Hurricane Katrina hit the coast of United States of America, in Louisiana. This catastrophic disaster caused unthinkable havoc not only on the land, but also took a toll on the economy as well. The oil industry, fishing industry and the tourism industry were hit the hardest. All that was left to salvage after Hurricane Katrina’s havoc, were the images of the once thriving neighborhoods, abandoned homes, and empty lots. These were also joined by the empty fishing boats that had once been busy in the sea, with fishermen who were earning a living comfortably, but not anymore. One could also see empty oil rigs from a distance.
Dead bodies were all over and the horrific sight culminating from the actions of Mother Nature were unfathomable. Evacuations were in order and the American people did try to do what they could, but it did not seem enough. The state’s entire economy was almost wiped out, but nothing could have been done to stop the Hurricane from striking Louisiana.
This disaster took a heavy toll on the affected victims and it pushed some of them to committing suicide, while others suffered psychological trauma. Others turned to substance abuse, in a bid to erase the horrible memories of losing loved ones. Essentially, the loss to accessible health care was a major contributor to deaths, due to untreated chronic diseases (Palser, 2007).Inherently, the young generation of Louisiana was somehow vulnerable to long term psychological effects of loss, mental instability and fear. This hurricane was categorized as a category four hurricane. The estimated damage cost that was left behind after the massive destruction was valued at over one hundred billion dollars.
The measures that had been put in place to avoid this kind of a disaster were not sufficient enough. This is because they had put up levees that had been designed to hold off category three hurricanes. These were overwhelmed and gave way, which led to immense flooding of the city and the displacement of over one hundred and fifty thousand American citizens. Amidst all the stories that were told by the victims of Hurricane Katrina, a lot of issues were uncovered. The then president George W.
Bush faced a lot of criticism for his government’s slow response to the crisis. The President did not set foot in New Orleans and other areas that had been affected for a number of days. The government was also blamed for poor disaster management.
The Federal government was accused of ignoring warnings that were issued months prior to the approach of the disaster. This was evidenced by the reduction of the funding for disaster management by thirty nine percent and rechanneling it these to other uses (Reed & Theiss, 2005). Additionally, it was evident that the rich were able to flee in good time and those who were regarded as the less fortunate were left to suffer. There was immense looting of shops, as the New Orleans people did not have food and water for a couple of days and there was no other means of survival. This disaster is said to have painted a dull picture of the African American community that was living in New Orleans. The media was on record showing images of the black community looting and it did not matter whether it was for survival.
Some people were also recorded as saying that should there have been a larger population of whites in Louisiana, the situation probably would have been contained. Even though this kind of disaster has been termed as quite huge and might not have been easy to handle, it was still not understandable why the numerous warnings were ignored as well as why the funding for such was reduced. This negated the United States’ image abroad, as it was not clear why such a nation that is perceived to be the richest nation on earth could not be in a position to handle such a disaster. In contrast, the government had all the money they ‘wanted,’ when it came to waging war in foreign lands and offering financial support to third world nations, whereas it lacked the money for effective disaster management. What really shocked the people of New Orleans and the Americans at large, was the fact that aid from Venezuela was rejected just because the American elites did not have a liking for the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
It is said that America was in a plot to have Chavez ousted from his presidency. This in itself was a bad and very selfish political decision to undertake. A number of other nations complained that they had their aid sent back by the American government and this was not well received. Other issues that were experienced by New Orleans were health problems such as environmental pollution, water borne diseases and sewerage mixes. Most oil rigs on the Gulf of Mexico were destroyed and this definitely hiked the oil prices. It has been a tough lesson to learn from, when it comes to disaster management.
This was a wakeup call to the federal government, as it was able to put adequate measures that would make the management of such a disaster effective and efficient in future. Setting aside a kitty for disaster preparedness was a positive start. A program to secure the coastlines is well under discussion, but it might take a while before implementation, as massive funding is required.
The coast guards have also been engaged in disaster preparedness and tactics training, based on how to evacuate civilians in large multitudes in a bid to save lives (Davis et al., 2006). The government is also in the process of stabilizing the sewer systems to avoid clogging. Oil companies are trying to come up with ways of securing their business, while making sure that such a disaster is averted in future, for the benefit of their business. The oil rigs in the ocean have been fortified using levees adequate for averting category four hurricanes. The rigs have also been raised, in a bid to counter the high tide waves that come smashing and washing away anything that stands in their way. This was one of the worst disasters to have ever hit American. In conclusion, it is imperative that the government adheres to warnings in order to avoid the number of deaths that were experienced when Hurricane Katrina struck.
Davis, L. E., Rough, J., Cecchine, G., Schaefer, A. G. and Zeman, L.
L. (2007). Hurricane Katrina: lessons for army planning and operations. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation Palser, B. (2007).
Hurricane Katrina: aftermath of disaster. Minneapolis, MN: Compass Point Books. Reed, J. and Theiss, M.
(2005). Hurricane Katrina: Through the eyes of storm chasers. Helena, MT: Farcountry Press.