Mission Five in the overview of the Homeland Security missions is ensuring resilience to disasters (Homeland Security Council, 2010, 31). Even as prepared and vigilant the United States is, there will still be disasters, accidents, and intentional acts that require the assistance of homeland security. The vision is that hazards and risks are understood, prepared for, and that the nation can withstand disruptions. Social trust and economic functions can survive adverse conditions, manage itself effectively during times of crisis, recover quickly, and adapt. This is guided by four traditional elements for emergency management. These elements include hazard mitigation, enhanced preparedness, effective emergency response, and rapid recovery. Disasters often occur locally and far removed from federal assets, but the national consequences are burdens shared by all.
There are four goals that fall under this mission. The first of these goals is to mitigate hazards (Homeland Security Council, 2010, 33). Under this goal, there are two objectives. The first objective is to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and families. This can be accomplished by improving the individual and family capacity to reduce vulnerabilities and withstand disasters. The second objective is to mitigate the risks to communities by improving community capacity to withstand disasters by mitigating known and anticipated hazards. Another goal under this mission is to enhance preparedness, which can be accomplished through two objectives. The first objective under this goal is to improve individual, family, and community preparedness. In order to accomplish this it is necessary to ensure individual, family, and community planning, readiness, and capacity-building or disasters. The second objective is to strengthen capabilities through enhancing and sustaining nationwide disaster preparedness capabilities to include life safety, law enforcement, information sharing, mass evacuation and shelter-in-place, public health, mass care, and public works.
Hurricane Katrina caused a great deal of human suffering, killing at least 1,330 people and injuring thousands (Townsend, 2006, Chapter 4). Homes, businesses, government buildings, and other historical buildings were destroyed. Over 80 percent of New Orleans was under 20 feet of water. State and local public safety agencies sustained massive damage to their equipment and facilities. There was no reliable network that could be used to coordinate emergency response operations. A lesson learned was that there needed to be a National Operations Center in order to provide appropriate response and that the DHS should coordinate with the state to enhance response operations. In order to mitigate future losses, the DHS reviewed current policies and government learned to support state and local law enforcement and criminal justice system during emergencies. Another lesson that was learned was that homeland security partners revised existing plans, ensuring that there is clear accountability for all preparedness efforts. Collaboration efforts with the military, state and local governments, private sector, and other areas that could provide assistance is needed. The Department of Health and Human Services is also needed.
Once the response is completed, recovery must begin. This involved the development of integrated public communications to inform, guide, and reassure before, during, and after the catastrophe (Townsend, 2006, Chapter 4). Department of Health and Human Services and other departments developed a robust and comprehensive delivery of human services so that victims can receive assistance. These systems must be simple, effective, and customer focused. Contribution from volunteers and non-government organizations is needed for the best outcome of future incidents. The Red Cross and DHS must retain responsibilities and improve mass care and sheltering during disasters. Federal, state, and local governments were not prepared for Hurricane Katrina, which brought to light organizational and coordination issues. Lack of communication and situational awareness showed weakness in the national preparedness system. There was a lack in areas of response, recovery, and reconstruction. Inadequate training, planning, and coordination issues that were brought to light as a result of Hurricane Katrina allowed for efforts to improve integration and synchronization for the federal, local, and state governments, as well as private and non-profit sectors.
Homeland Security Council. (2010). Quadrennial homeland security review report. Retrieved from http://www.iaem.com/documents/QHSRReportFeb2010.pd…
http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/reports…Townsend, F. F. (2006). The federal response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons learned. Retrieved from
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