An example of an emergency experience where poor communication significantly affected operations is Hurricane Katrina. Although other similar disasters have occurred lately, this event of 2005 is memorable because it was devastating, and its intensity shaped a new approach to response and preparedness (Weil et al., 2018). For instance, after the attack, policies were proposed for substantial changes in the roles and mission of emergency response teams such as Homeland Security and the department of defense. The hurricane damaged precedented parts of key communication systems throughout the Gulf of Coast region. Local emergency services, for instance, the 911, were disrupted, many customers could not use the telephone services, and broadcasting stations were affected after utility poles toppled (Shittu et al., 2018). Although federal, state, and local agencies provided the ways and communication strategies to deal with disasters, the plans or assets were inadequate to respond effectively to the calamity. Communication resources available were not used fully due to a lack of national or regional plans to incorporate them.
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The costs and impacts that resulted from the hurricane were enormous, including undue deaths and property destruction, which caused more challenges to responders. Millions of individuals in the Gulf of Coast as well as in New Orleans were left homeless. More than 1800 people died in the disaster and flooding while vital equipment or services to communicate were lost (Shittu et al., 2018). A single action that could have prevented the problem is designing a communication plan before the disaster strike. Emergency response teams should have been prepared earlier by recognizing that infrastructures are vulnerable during disasters; hence, various means to coordinate and disseminate information should be devised (Howard et al., 2017). In case there is an outage in one network, other approaches to transmitting messages can be immediately adopted through regional plans. Implementing the strategy was feasible since responders could know how to contact one another and the community at national, local, or regional levels.
Howard, A., Agllias, K., Bevis, M., & Blakemore, T. (2017). “They’ll tell us when to evacuate”: The experiences and expectations of disaster-related communication in vulnerable groups. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 22, 139-146.
Shittu, E., Parker, G., & Mock, N. (2018). Improving communication resilience for effective disaster relief operations. Environment Systems and Decisions, 38(3), 379-397.
Weil, F. D., Rackin, H. M., & Maddox, D. (2018). Collective resources in the repopulation of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Natural Hazards, 94(2), 927-952.