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Having a pre-plan with all stakeholders is often recommended whenever one plans a long-term recovery especially after a disaster. The process usually involves understanding the potential types of debris that may follow an event. The process includes transportation, storage and the manner in which the recovery remnants will be removed from the community. The type of planning is integral given that it can be time consuming, expensive and often can be disastrous to the environment. As part of understanding the recovery process and all the stakeholders involved, the focus of the paper will be on Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Irma was extremely powerful and catastrophic type of hurricane in terms of winds that was observed in Atlantic (Zolnikov, 2018). A. It is observed to be the strongest after Wilma to ever happen in the open region of Atlantic. Being one of its kind, Hurricane Irma is known to be the first Category 5 hurricane to ever strike the Leeward Islands followed by Hurricane Maria. The Hurricane led to widespread and catastrophic damage to the livelihoods of individuals especially in the areas that cover the north-eastern Caribbean and the Florida Keys (Zolnikov, 2018). Since Katrina 2005, Irma remains the most intense Atlantic hurricane to strike the continental United States.
The impact of Hurricane Irma has been quite intense. The hurricane led to damages and destructions in roads, harbors and airports hence affecting transportation and distribution of various relief supplies. The effect were mainly felt in the areas of West Indies and Caribbean. The destruction affected availability of food in the areas and all the plantations hence necessitating the foreign countries to move in to provide the much needed initial aid. As part of addressing the effects of hurricane, the British, Dutch, United States and French sent warships and planes to assist in provision of food and manpower to the region. The affected countries in bid to realize maximum attention and address the issue moved in to offer assistance to each other. Cuba, one of the countries that was affected by the Hurricane offered 750 health workers to Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Haiti, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia. For the Puerto Rico, they delivered assistance and ensured evacuation of people who were stranded at the islands (Zolnikov, 2018). On the other hand, the US offered humanitarian visas to the people at the British Virgin Islanders, visas that would allow them to stay in Puerto Rico. Those stranded were flown to other countries on humanitarian grounds.
Roles and Responsibilities in Disaster Recovery
To carry out the recovery process after the disaster, several groups coordinated to offer the much needed support. Most of the agencies that took part in the recovery process were government agencies.
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FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
Played a critical role in the coordination of efforts of the federal government and worked alongside state and local emergency groups to assist in solving the immediate needs of survivors after the Hurricane. In the process, more than 3,100 staffs of FEMA took part in the recovery process. FEMA also carried out search and rescue in the Caribbean and the U.S mainland. As at mid-September, 2017, FEMA had assisted in transfer of 7.2 million meals, 41 generators and transportation of 5.5 million litres of water to the Southeast. To the Puerto Rico region, FEMA transferred 36,000 meals and 3,600 litres of water. Additionally, approximately 578,000 meals, one hundred and fifteen thousand litres of water and sheets covers, blue tarps and generators were also transported to St. Thomas. The food stuffs were to ensure that the affected persons had better living. During the process, approximately 1,141 rescues were done in Florida and an estimated 1,006 lives were saved. On the other hand, the U.S Coast Guard (USCG) managed to rescue 326 individuals, and saved 53 pets. To ensure that people get in touch with each other and families keep in touch, phone call coordination and answering of calls was done by the USCG. During the recovery process, approximately 1,750 emergency phone calls were answered.
Department of Energy (DOE)
The agency has been instrumental in coordination with the partners to ensure facilitation of communications, provision of awareness of the situation at hand and making sure that the restoration efforts are expedited. During the recovery process of Hurricane Irma, approximately 60,000 personnel were engaged. The personnel were from varied investor-owned electric companies, approximately 250 companies, different power utilities and electric cooperatives in Canada and United States. Their main role was to ensure dedicated power restoration. The work that involved in, normally is tiresome and require a lot of patience. During the process, 70 percent of power was restored across the affected region.
American Red Cross (ARC)
During the recovery process, this agency was so much focused in ensuring safety of persons, provision of shelter, food. During the recovery process of Irma, they were supposed to ensure that there is shelf-stable meals, well positioning of personnel and offer supplies. During Hurricane Irma, approximately 10,300 individuals were offered refuge and the evacuation was done across four states which included the U.S Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Through their effort, the ARC served 354,000 meals and snacks by mid-September, 2017. Approximately 2,900 Red Cross workers are in place to assist in responding to Irma and they have engaged 380 volunteers too (Lichtveld, 2018).
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)
As part of the recovery process, CNCS deployed 23 AmeriCorps disaster response teams and they included the FEMA Corps. They worked and covered the area of Florida, Georgia and Puerto Rico. Also, through their websites, they offered directions and updates concerning volunteer process. Many people were encouraged to be part of the volunteer especially in the state of Florida.
U.S Department of Defense (DOD)
There are various bodies under the Department of Defense that assisted in the recovery process from Hurricane Irma. During the process, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers engaged approximately 350 personnel who were in charge of 39 FEMA Mission Assignments. As part of their duty, they assisted in nursing as well as provision of living equipment Georgia. Part of the requirements for those who were in disaster was a generator that was availed to the U.S Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (PAWA).
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Additionally, the U.S National Guard Bureau (NGB) also increased their engagements and efforts in sending and resources to enable maintenance of life and property. In order to effectively deliver their promise, they worked with different civil partners in the various affected regions. Some of their work in Florida during the recovery process entailed clearance of routes, providing support to law enforcers, ensuring shelter operations, restoration of communication and optimal resource distribution.
The other notable part of the defense is the U.S Northern Command (NORTHCOM) that worked with FEMA to offer support to the authorities both in Florida and the U.S Virgin Islands. During the process, NORTHCOM ensured that there was provision of life-saving and sustaining relief in the affected regions. The U.S Army Area Support Medical Company (ASMC) ensured provision of triage, offering different medical treatments and giving the pre-evacuation care. Additionally, the team ensures that there is mobile communications tower with air traffic control radar capability. This is to assist in sorting out the emergencies that arise.
U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
As one of the ways of ensuring healthy living among the affected persons, HHS came in to help in providing medical support in shelters (Morabia & Benjamin, 2018). They also offered emergency department decompression in various areas that were affected by Hurricane Irma. One of the agencies that worked in collaboration with HHS was the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC helped in sharing information regarding the hazardous substances released such as carbon monoxide. Also, they enlightened the victims on generator safety as generators were the main source of power and electricity.
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Provision and Checking Rights of Persons
During the recovery process from the Hurricane Irma, USCIS was instrumental in updating the operational status of the offices that were affected by Hurricane Irma (Lichtveld, 2018). They did this through updates on their website and amplified it on the social media through various updates. In fact, the USCIS had a special page that detailed how natural catastrophes affected petitions, applications and immigration status.
Coordination of Communication
Appreciating that communication is an effective part of the disaster recovery process, Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) issued tips to assist in directing effective communication with the entire community. The process entailed civil rights guidance in as far as communication with individuals with disabilities are concerned as well as other access and functional needs.
Federal communications Commission
Through this agency, the recovery process was made seamless as they ensured monitoring the status of different communication networks in the areas that were affected by Hurricane Irma. Normally, communication remains one paramount and mandatory issue in disaster recovery process. FCC ensured that there is daily monitoring of daily communication status reports, information are followed up and resources that related to disaster recovery process are all monitored. Through seamless communication channels, FCC ensure that there is timely delivery of goods. Communication is supported through the various social media platforms like Facebook and blogs.
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Search and Rescue
To ensure that there is smooth search and rescue response, the U.S Coast Guard (USCG) played a critical role. In fact, USCG worked in collaboration with other federal and state partners. It is the USCG that did all the clearing and forwarding process of materials at the port. Additionally, they aided in the carrying out water rescues hence saving quite a number of lives (Morabia & Benjamin, 2018).
Mapping out the affected area is necessary during the disaster recovery process. In the process of recovery from Hurricane Irma, the U.S Geological Survey (USGS) had personnel who helped in monitoring water, effecting coastal changes, mapping the area and working with law enforcers to ensure that the FEMA functions are delivered.
Safety of National Parks
The disaster also affected national parks. To ensure safety of all the park habitats, the National Park Service (NPS) was incorporated to help in coordinating the operations in South Florida and coordinate the response of the bureau to the parks affected by Hurricane Irma. During the process, the immediate needs included providing emergency needs to support employee, carrying out damage assessments and removing debris from different affected areas. To deliver on its mandate effectively, the team relocated the response operation it had closer to the parks. More human resource was incorporated in the parks to assist delivering the disaster recovery goals. Owing to safety concerns, the parks were closed and clean up done and only opened when the authority felt safe to do so (Lichtveld, 2018).
Administration of Justice
During recovery process, there are those who always want to take advantage of the situation and fraud the public. To ensure smooth process, the U.S Department of Justice participated in ensuring enforcement as part of offering quick response to teams in Florida and Texas. Through the department, possible fraud cases that may arise were addressed. In collaboration with the National Center for Disaster Fraud, messages were spread to assist the public in avoiding and reporting any kind of Hurricane relief fraud schemes (Morabia & Benjamin, 2018).
Safety of Employees
To ensure that the employees who are affected in the disaster are safe, the government through the U.S Social Security Administration (SSA) proceeded with the contacting of employees in region affected. During contact process, the location and safety levels of employees was determined.
During the disaster recovery process, there are multiple agencies that are involved. Hurricane Irma was extremely powerful and catastrophic type of hurricane in terms of winds that was observed in Atlantic. The hurricane led to damages and destructions in roads, harbors and airports hence affecting transportation and distribution of various relief supplies. The effect were mainly felt in the areas of West Indies and Caribbean. The destruction affected availability of food in the areas and all the plantations hence necessitating the foreign countries to move in to provide the much needed initial aid. Different departments in the U.S government worked to deliver safe stay for the victims. Some of the departments involved included FEMA, DOE, ARC, CNCS, DOD, Federal communications Commission and U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
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- Lichtveld, M. (2018). Disasters through the lens of disparities: elevate community resilience as an essential public health service.
- Morabia, A., & Benjamin, G. C. (2018). Preparing and Rebuilding After Natural Disasters: A New Public Health Normal!.
- Zolnikov, T. R. (2018). A humanitarian crisis: lessons learned from Hurricane Irma.