Federalism and Hurricanes

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Federalism is how state and national government work together to divide power and functions. It had a great influence on the making of the constitution and its fundamental’s. Federalism impacts all areas of the government from simple local government all the way up to federal government. Like many things federalism has advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to communication and federalism they do not work hand and hand together, as seen during a natural disaster, hurricane Katrina.

Hurricane Katrina was the largest hurricane recorded to have touch land in the united states. It had struck the southern coast of the united states the morning on august 28, 2005. So much damage was caused from this disaster, more than 1,500 deaths occurred in Louisiana and about 230 in Mississippi. It left damages over $81 billion and cost about $160 billion. Hours after the hurricane had touch land Communication had shut down completely. Citizens could not contact their local government officials because their cellphones and landlines weren’t working. 3 million phone lines and 1,000 cellular towers were knocked over and out of service.

During the video of “the storm” it was repeated many times that nobody knew who was exactly in charge to handle the effects of this disaster. This hurricane had exposed numerous of flaws in the federalism approach in natural disasters at each level of government. It showed how unprepared each level of government was unable to communicate effectively to get anything done. Many officials would point fingers on who to blame or who was supposed to do what. In article mega disasters and federalism, it states “in the face of terrible emergencies the serving grace of federalism is supposed to be its greater flexibility, responsiveness, and capacity to mobilize mutual aid”.

Interoperability is when computers or software are to exchange and make use of information. Allowing states to have this freedom is problematic and dangerous to the concept of federalism. Its problematic because we don’t know how much states systems can handle and if they are compatible with the federal communications. The way things had occurred during hurricane Katrina showed how we should reevaluate interoperability and federalism.

Hurricane Pam was an exercise that forecasted hurricane Katrina. Everything that had occurred in this practice most definitely did occur when hurricane Katrina had hit. According to “The Storm” officials had made commitments and gave out false hope in which they would carry in when a certain event would play out. Since FEMAS exercise was cut key planning decisions were not yet made, and many things such as care of patients, communications were not yet announced. A lot of things could have been learned from this practice such as proper evacuation and being able to prepare for such horrible disaster.

FEMA is federal emergency management agency, which was in charge to distribute aid to the states and help officials to take care of catastrophic disasters.t This agency was launched by executive order in April 1979. Many people were blaming FEMA for not taking care of the conditions cause by hurricane Katrina. They had received so much criticism even by President Bush. President Bush had established the relief and rescue oppositions were unacceptable and wanted to remove this agency from the homeland and security act. FEMA response is known to be slow, disorganized, and profligate. In Which it shouldn’t be as stated in Crisis communication “views communication with the public as a one-way street: information is supposed to flow from officials to the public via warnings sent out over TV, radio and other media”.

The core problems within FEMA can be solved by many different factors. For example, they can work on issues of deploying slowly by working on quick communication practices. By having quicker communication, it allows them to get relief to those who need it faster. Slow response of FEMA during Katrina was one of the biggest issues at this point in time. Another big issue was, how unorganized they were and organization is a big reason as to why they were hated after Hurricane Katrina. To fix the issue of disorganization they need to go over the roles of each position. They also need to do extensive interviews of the candidates wanting a job with FEMA. The current director of FEMA is Brock Long. He began his administration of the federal emergency management agency in June 2017. He is more than capable in working and serving as a director because he has 16 years of assisting and support local and state as well as federal governments with building emergency managements.

A couple days have been going by before President George Bush had associated his self with Hurricane Katrina. He was found vacationing days before, on his way back to the white house his plane had flown over the disaster in which many photographers took a picture of Bush’s “Grim-Face”. This photo was later released, this picture had citizens talking and realizing he was too distant from the storm and what was actually going on below. He was then invited to visit the area in which he had declined. Although many people were angered by this he thought he wouldn’t want to disturb the rescuing and recovery efforts. Many of bush’s supports said his lack of response and slow reaction to it damaged his reputation. His reputation is still on the line and has yet to recover. Some say he may never recover. People were very disappointed in him, even celebrity Kanye west was accusing him of being racist and “not caring” for the well-being of black people.

Many lessons were learned through the horrible disaster of hurricane Katrina. The number one lesson being communication needs to be improvised and number one priority. Some experts believe we may never be “ready” for something that big to happen but you may want to consider how well your institution is prepared for any kinds of threats and all levels of organizations. A lot of people didn’t know how to evacuate properly or what to prioritize when evacuating, so practicing and knowing where to go when a situation like this occurs can make things run smoothly and let other people know how to help others.

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Federalism and Hurricanes. (2019, Feb 15). Retrieved June 20, 2024 , from

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