Blog 7: Disaster Planning, CRP4A

Hurricane Katrina

 

Overview

 

Katrina was a deadly category 5 hurricane that devastated the US in August 2005. Katrina is also among the top 5 deadliest hurricanes to ever hit the US. Deaths caused by the devastating disaster totaled 1,833. The estimated cost of Katrina is around $108 billion. Hurricane Katrina is known for being the costliest hurricane ever hitting the US.

 

Vulnerability

 

One of the areas most affected by Katrina was New Orleans 9th Ward. The reason that this area suffered some of the worst aftermaths of the hurricane is because many of the residents living here were low-income people who lacked insurance. It is also argued that many of the damages caused by the storm were due to human engineering mistakes. New Orleans has a levee and a floodwall system to protect the city. However, these structures were poorly designed and maintained.

 

Communication

 

In a 2005 report from the National Weather Service titled “Extremely Powerful Hurricane Katrina Leaves a Historic Mark on the Northern Gulf Coast,” Hurricane Katrina was described as “the costliest hurricane to ever hit the United States.” They also wrote that it was in the top five deadliest hurricanes ever to hit the United States. They estimated about 1,833 deaths and $108 billion in damages. They also reported that the highest wind speeds reached up to 140 mph and 9 tornadoes spawned as a result of the hurricane. More recent articles have slightly higher numbers than the initial reports from the National Weather Service. In Weather Nation’s 2018 article titled “13 Years Later: Looking back at Hurricane Katrina,” the estimates are at 2000 deaths and over $150 billion in damage. In general, the numbers are pretty consistent with their initial reports. Every article portrays Hurricane Katrina as one of the deadliest and most severe hurricanes ever to touch the United States with devastating impacts on the region it went over. It is interesting to note that there are some articles such as one published in 2015 titled “We Still Don’t Know How Many People Died Because of Katrina,” that claim there is a degree of inconsistency in the numbers. The article claims that many of the death numbers reported by individual states were changed at later dates and that many states, such as Louisiana, eventually just stopped counting the dead. The article claims that the estimates and coverage for deaths did not receive as much attention as something like the 9/11 terrorist attacks did and so coming to a clear consensus on the numbers may be difficult.

 

Future Improvements

Disaster preparedness Plan for the City – The local government would set the plan and ensure that everyone is aware so that there is not chaos. The plan would include specifics like where food for those living in shelters will come from, how sanitation will be maintained through the disaster and what medical services will be provided.

Shelters – Special buildings for hurricane shelters are a common practice in developing countries but it is a much less common practice in the US. Having engineers design shelters specific to a city’s “common” disasters would be beneficial in the long term. If an area typically experiences flooding the engineers could come up with a design for a shelter that can withstand high levels of flooding.

Disaster Preparedness in Schools – If we really want to see a change in how people view disaster preparedness I think it will have to start at  a young age. There should be greater focus on teaching kids about survival kits and the impacts of disaster. Children living near coastal areas should know the importance of knowing how to swim. As the kids grow up hopefully they will make disaster preparedness more of a priority.

 

Implementation

Disaster preparedness Plan for the City – Some potential barriers for implementing a Disaster Preparedness Plan for the city would be ensuring it was accessible to all members of the municipality. It would be necessary to educate the citizens on the information available within the Plan, and reaching that wide an audience could pose some problems. Additionally, actually having the funds to implement the Plan, such as creating shelters and having food stores would also be a potential barrier. In order to combat these, the city could use multiple forms of communication to get across the information– texts, signage, and posters in public places such as grocery stores, parks, libraries, and schools could be used to make sure it reaches the most people.

Shelters – Much like many strategies, a large barrier for implementing shelters would be cost. Additionally, space for these shelters, if they need to be new structures, could pose a problem. Hiring people to adapt existing buildings that are accessible and have high capacities could be a potential solution to these problems.

Disaster Preparedness in Schools – A potential barrier for implementing Disaster Preparedness in schools would be that it is time-consuming, and some kids may not be present on the day(s) that the disaster prep takes place. In addition to having time set aside to teaching the kids about how to handle disaster situations, much like the disaster preparedness for the city, posters could be placed around the school to make kids aware of things in case they missed the day when it was talked about in class.

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