The risk of increasingly devastating natural disasters and the continuous threats of terrorism drive the nation's demand for swift and effective national emergency planning and response. Hurricane Katrina struck and devastated parts of the Gulf Region as a Category 4 hurricane in August 2005. After landfall in New Orleans, opportunities to maintain sanitation and hygiene quickly disappeared as flood water became contaminated, evacuees were stranded and forced to sleep next to dead bodies and human waste, survive without food or water and hope to be rescued. Survivors were convinced that they were abandoned by the federal government and left to die. Political leaders including President Bush, the governor of Louisiana and the mayor of New Orleans, have publicly criticized the federal emergency response. A content analysis will be presented that analyzes FEMA's actions related to New Orleans from August 26, 2005 to September 5, 2005. A timeline of FEMA actions and decisions for these dates has been compiled from three sources: the Brookings Institute, Think Progress, and Fact Check, which will be compared against the National Response Plan functions that outline responsibilities and actions for FEMA. Congressional testimony, The White House report and the Bipartisan Committee report also provide a first hand account of FEMA's response as well as providing additional information regarding actions taking by FEMA which are not included in the timelines. New recommendations, based on organizational theory, have also been developed. It is apparent that FEMA's failure is due to its organizational structure and systems. Therefore, policy is needed to correct FEMA's severe shortcomings. Such policy change has also been demanded by the public as well as local/state government entities.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
United States. Federal Emergency Management Agency--Evaluation; Hurricane Katrina, 2005; Emergency management; Disaster relief--Louisiana--New Orleans; Disaster relief--Gulf States; Science and state--United States
Science, Technology and Public Policy (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
Department of Science Technology and Society/Public Policy (CLA)
Van Patten, Elaine, "Katrina and the Federal Emergency Management Agency: A Case Study in Organizational Failure" (2007). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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