In 2005, the US was hit hard by hurricane Katrina. The areas that experienced the most devastation included Mississippi and Louisiana that took months to recover. While people were trapped in wrecks across the states, help took too long to arrive because broken communication and a lot of confusion among the response agencies (Tkacz, 2006). Such kind of devastation in addition to the increased frequency of storms only indicates that Katrina might repeat itself in a much worse fashion unless someone did something. In response, the president made various changes geared towards preventing a similar confusion if such an event were to occur again anywhere in the country. Then, the National Guidance and Preparedness Goals were formulated incorporating aspects like prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery where different agencies, including the military, must work in cohesion (Mission Areas, 2017).
The goals were developed to ensure that the US can remain not only secure but also resilient in the wake of natural disasters. They also represent an integrated set of guidance expected to assist in domestic efforts in all levels of government, private, and public sectors. They also incorporate a set of national planning frameworks that outline how the entire community would work together before, during, and after a major natural disaster. One of the goals and a commencing point for the goals is prevention where possible. Although prevention may not appear as important in natural disasters especially because it applied to attacks like terrorism, it serves another key purpose. Whenever there is a forecast that a hurricane or another destructive natural disaster is about to strike, the prevention step enables and requires the law enforcement to ensure that all individuals in the path of destruction can leave their homes for approved shelters so that they can avoid possible injuries or worse. Prevention, particularly, stems from stopping to avoiding a disaster. This process requires the collection and dissemination of information as soon as possible to relevant parties. Warning the public is a key area under the category of prevention as it plays the role of delivering coordinated, reliable, prompt, clear, consistent, accessible, and accurate information to the public (Homeland Security, 2011). For instance, the country uses advisory system alerts to warn the public of any disaster including terrorism.
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The other key area in the goals is protection, which incorporates different capabilities intended to safeguard the country against natural disasters mostly because they cannot be prevented. It plays the role of not only protecting the citizens and visitors but also critical assets, networks and other networks in a way that ensures that the lives of the people and their ways of life continue to thrive. Protection ensures the creation of conditions that enable a safer and a more resilient country even in the wake of a serious natural disaster. This would prevent the reoccurrence of the breakdown of communication and other critical infrastructures as was witnessed during Katrina (Tkacz, 2006). Particularly, the country would safeguard transportation, power delivery, food security, and communication networks. To facilitate protection, the goal requires establishment and maintenance of partnership structures among the major protection elements to provide support for networking and coordination. In addition, protection also requires identification of probable risks so that mitigation can be possible as well as the development of possible countermeasures (Homeland Security, 2011). For instance, poorly constructed roads are more likely to be torn out of the ground than carefully built roads.
The other important role is mitigation that incorporates the use of any measures that can be helpful in the reduction of loss of life and property. The relevant authorities are responsible for developing ways that can reduce the impact of the disasters. The main focus here is that people, organizations, critical infrastructure, and a country as a whole are all resilient when and if the costs of responding and recovering from such disasters as hurricanes are reduced. Considering the seriousness of destruction that natural disasters are capable of, mitigation plays the critical role of reducing long-term risks to property and life. It is, as such, the role of the entire community in the identification of hazards so that something can be done about them before they become disasters. For this to work, it is fundamental that the community forms relationships with the leaders so that they can assist each other in the identification of the disasters and especially because mitigation is most effective from a local level.
The other goal is response. It incorporates the different capabilities necessary to save lives as well as protect the environment and property. It is also important in the provision of basic needs in the wake of a natural disaster. The focus here is to respond by sustaining lives and stabilizing the incident by rapidly providing basic needs and restoring crucial functionality in the community like rebuilding healthcare institutions to cater for the diseases that constantly emanate from flooding and other types of natural disasters. This supports the community efforts in transition to recovery (Homeland Security, 2011). For recovery to be possible, the community must coordinate activities with emergency officials to eliminate delays as people rely on the emergency personnel to be the only source of manpower especially in the first hours after a natural disaster. For example, any individual with medical experience should assist the emergency personnel to quicken the recovery process.
The last goal is recovery. The main focus here is to assist the communities in restoring and strengthening of the infrastructure. It spans from housing, health, and environment to restoring social needs. The pace at which the affected community will be able to recover depends on the pre-disaster preparedness of the subject community especially with respect to building capacity for recovery. Recovery also incorporates providing a continuum of care where it enables individuals and communities to become independent again. The available resources are put to use in this stage and if there is a shortage, they may be contributed from elsewhere. For instance, donations can be contributed from different countries to help communities rebuild themselves.
During hurricane Katrina, the army played the role of mobilizing emergency response even before Katrina made landfall. After landfall, they commenced rescue efforts involving all on-duty troops. The entire situation was too confused but the army made sure that it became orderly. They were also involved in evacuations after the storm had hit (Berthelot, 2010). This is linked to DSCA in that the military resorted to using its own assets to assist in nonmilitary operations. Responding to such disasters was tasked to civil authorities but the military used all means necessary to evacuate and restore communication bringing order to the region.
In conclusion, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina brought a good thing in the form of preparedness. The country is now prepared to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond, and assist in recovery operations. However, this calls for coordination between all agencies.
- Berthelot, R. (2010). The Army response to Hurricane Katrina.
- Homeland Security. (2011). National Preparedness Goal.
- Mission Areas. (2017).
- Tkacz, S. R. (2006). In Katrina’s Wake: Rethinking the Military’s Role in Domestic Emergencies. William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, 15(1), 301-334.