Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Federal Response To Hurricane Katrina-PKEMRA 2006

It has been suggested that the report of the
White House--Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina--underlies Congressional efforts leading to enactment of the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006. That statute became effective fully on March 31, 2007. It also led to the departure of Under Secretary George Foresman from DHS.

Chapter 5 of the report discusses in detail critical challenges derived from the federal response and is the key portion of the document concerning lessons learned.

Here is a Chapter 5 extract:

Hurricane Katrina Critical Challenges
1. National Preparedness
2. Integrated Use of Military Capabilities
3. Communications
4. Logistics and Evacuations
5. Search and Rescue
6. Public Safety and Security
7. Public Health and Medical Support
8. Human Services
9. Mass Care and Housing
10. Public Communications
11. Critical Infrastructure and Impact Assessment
12. Environmental Hazards and Debris Removal
13. Foreign Assistance
14. Non-Governmental Aid
15. Training, Exercises, and Lessons Learned
16. Homeland Security Professional Development
and Education
17. Citizen and Community Preparedness


This government will learn the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. We are going to review every action and make necessary changes so that we are better prepared for any challenge of nature, or act of evil men, that could
threaten our people.
—President George W. Bush, September 15, 2005

The preceding chapters described the dynamics of the response to Hurricane Katrina. While there were numerous stories of great professionalism, courage, and compassion by Americans from all walks of life, our task here is to identify the critical challenges that undermined and prevented a more efficient and effective Federal response. In short, what were the key failures during the Federal response to
Hurricane Katrina."

I would argue that PKEMRA 2006 came nowhere near to dealing with the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina federal efforts. So that is the first disconnect. The second is that PKEMRA 2006 has yet to be fully implemented. GAO has documented that failure. So as we approach the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina landfall perhaps time to document this failure more closely.