Natural disasters belong to the most unpredictable catastrophes that have a detrimental impact on people and territories. Hurricanes pose a huge threat to citizens and require lengthy repair works as well as the development of strategies aimed at overcoming the crisis. Hurricane Katrina that hit several regions of the US in 2005 caused some of the greatest losses in the history of the country (Shah, 2005). The Louisiana coastline was one of the most significantly impacted by the hurricane (Office for Coastal Management, n.d.). Breton Sound was the area in Louisiana that was most severely damaged by the storm. The greatest outcome observed was the flooding during several weeks after the hurricane (Office for Coastal Management, n.d.). As a result, a considerable area of wetlands was lost. In less than twelve months, Louisiana lost more than 150 square miles of estuarine emergent marsh. Also, more than 200 square miles of open water appeared due to the aftermath of the hurricane (Office for Coastal Management, n.d.). Since the US had prior experience of managing such disasters, some lessons could have been learned from it.
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According to research, the response of the government to Hurricane Katrina was not satisfactory (Shah, 2005). Many decisions taken by the officials were criticized. The President George Bush refused to accept aid from some countries based on the US leadership’s dislikes of their leaders. Because of such decisions, as well as due to the untimely arrival to the scene of disaster, the President’s trust rates fell considerably (Shah, 2005). Therefore, I would recommend several strategies that might have been employed in order to minimize the adverse impact of the hurricane on people living in Louisiana.
One of the crisis plans in the country’s history the elements of which could be applied after Hurricane Katrina is the Mississippi crisis plan that was developed after the Great Flood of 1993. The first strategy I would borrow from the Mississippi experience and apply after Hurricane Katrina is the project CREST (Community Resources for Education, Support, and Training) (North & Hong, 2000). The CREST was developed to help people cope with the disastrous outcomes of the flood and make their adjustment to the new living conditions easier. The primary aim of the CREST was to expand the communities’ mental health support system through enabling community leaders to arrange an intervention on dealing with the initial crisis (North & Hong, 2000). Also, the CREST provided emotional support during post-disaster period that is the time when professional resources are not available in a sufficient amount. North and Hong (2000) outline the following key aspects of the CREST’s duties:
- people should be offered immediate support;
- the activists should seek for the immediate stabilization of the situation;
- in most cases, victims are not mentally ill and do not require therapy; rather, they need help to cope with their distress;
- CREST specialists should report any community members that seem to be in the high zone of risk.
The next strategy I would recommend is evaluating the crisis. One of the reasons why Hurricane Katrina aftermath was not managed successfully was that the extent of crisis was not assessed appropriately within the first days after the disaster. According to Myer and Conte (2006), accurate evaluation of a disaster is the major determinant of the successful crisis intervention. The evaluation allows specialists to find out what resources are necessary to manage the situation, what approaches are the most beneficial, and what kinds of support are needed (Myer & Conte, 2006). According to Myer and Moore (2006), it is important to take into consideration that crises have a multilayer structure. The major components of a crisis are the individuals, a system, and community (Myer & Conte, 2006). Thus, it was necessary to assess the representation of a disaster outcomes at each of the layers after Hurricane Katrina. If such an evaluation had been made, it would have become possible to minimize the negative impact on individual people and the community in general.
Despite the negative aspects, there were also positive steps made in relation to the hurricane aftermath. A positive tendency was dividing the responsibilities into several sections (The Mississippi Renewal Forum, 2005). Thus, the committee analyzed the needs of the region, predicted the transportation needs, evaluated the social impact, and revised the retail situation. Moreover, the housing options for the citizens who suffered from the hurricane were analyzed. Finally, the committee adjusted the flood hazard plan in the region, which made it possible to predict the situation in the future (The Mississippi Renewal Forum, 2005). According to the report prepared by Barksdale (2005), the human services and economic development were also taken into consideration when creating the plan of dealing with the hurricane’s aftermath.
All of the mentioned actions, even though they did not occur immediately after the tragedy, made it possible to help the people who became victims of a natural disaster and allowed the authorities to manage the crisis. It would have been better if the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina had been dealt with more attention and had borrowed some strategies employed during the Great Flood of 1993. However, many efforts were paid to make the lives of people return to the normal flow and to predict and avert similar crises in the future.
Barksdale, J. L. (2005). After Katrina: Building back better than ever. Web.
The Mississippi Renewal Forum. (2005). Summary report. Web.
Myer, R. A., & Conte, C. (2006). Assessment for crisis intervention. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 62(8), 959-970.
Myer, R. A., & Moore, H. B. (2006). Crisis in context theory: An ecological model. Journal of Counseling & Development, 84(2), 139-147
North, C. S., & Hong, B. A. (2000). Project CREST: A new model for mental health intervention after a community disaster. American Journal of Public Health, 90(7), 1057-1058.
Office for Coastal Management. (n.d.). Assessing the impacts of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Web.
Shah, A. (2005). Hurricane Katrina. Global Issues. Web.