Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest and most costly hurricanes in the history of the US. It was the sixth strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the third strongest on record that reached the continental United States. It devastated much of the north-central Gulf Coast of the United States. The most severe loss of life and property damage occurred in New Orleans, which was largely devoured by floodwaters after the levee system suffered a calamitous failure. There had to be response to this disaster. However, there were specific decisions that were made not to implement the entire National Response Plan in response to Katrina (Levitt & Whitaker, 2009).
To be specific, one of the decisions was not to activate or use the Catastrophic Incident Annex (CIA). The purpose of this annex is to describe an accelerated, proactive national response to catastrophic incidents such as the Katrina and establish protocols to pre-identify and rapidly deploy essential resources expected to be urgently needed. However, the Homeland Security Department that department played an integral role during catastrophic events, lacked clarity about the circumstance under which the annex could have been activated. This later contributed to several issues with clear roles and lines of responsibility and authority (Estados Unidos, 2006).
Because questions surrounded whether the annex should apply only to events that occur with little or no notice rather than events with more notice that have the potential to evolve into incidents of catastrophic magnitude, like a strengthening hurricane, it did not provide a clear guidance about the extent to which the federal government should have been involved in the accelerated response role that the annex describes (Robertson, 2014). The decision faced a lot of opposition after Katrina because people felt that so many lives would have been saved had the CIA been activated during the catastrophic incident (Strohm, 2005). The Homeland Security Department will forever be blamed for causing the death of several people through its decision yet a verse in the Bible says “Thou shall not take away the life of someone or participate in an action that leads to the death of someone”.
Estados Unidos. (2006). A failure of initiative: : supplementary report and document annex. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Levitt, J. I., & Whitaker, M. C. (2009). Hurricane Katrina: America’s unnatural disaster. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Robertson, Campbell (2014). “Taking Stand, Nagin Defends Acts as Mayor in New Orleans”. New York Times. Available online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/07/us/taking-stand-nagin-defends-acts-as-mayor-in-new-orleans.html?ref=hurricanekatrina&_r=0
Strohm, C (2005). “DHS failed to use catastrophe response plan in Katrina’s wake”. Government Executive. Available online at: http://www.govexec.com/defense/2005/10/dhs-failed-to-use-catastrophe-response-plan-in-katrinas-wake/20436/#disqus_thread