Disaster Risk Reduction and Response Report


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Report written for MSc Disaster Management & Sustainable Development (Northumbria University, 2010-11)

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Disaster Risk Reduction and Response Report

  1. 1. Francesca Hughes Disaster Management & Sustainable DevelopmentAnalyse one disaster using thepressure and release modelIntroductionThe Pressure and Release (PAR) model provides a framework for analysing disasters, in whichexisting vulnerabilities within the affected population, rather than the intensity of the event itself,lead to certain outcomes. The natural hazard is a trigger event, which exposes thesevulnerabilities and leads to some people suffering more than others. Hurricane Katrina in NewOrleans provides a good example of this, where one group of people – primarily the poor, blackpopulation – was more severely affected than another group – the better-off, white population.There was much discussion in the media and public institutions about why the event played outas it did, and the US government repeatedly stated that it was not abandoning citizens; but thispaper will argue that the effects of Hurricane Katrina were due to various causes and pressures,which made certain sections of the population more vulnerable.The PAR ModelThere is growing literature showing that the impact of a disaster is a function of the event andpre-existing conditions: the preparedness of government and individuals; emergency planning;and the existing divisions and inequalities in society (Alexander, 2006). The Pressure andRelease model was formulated by Blaikie et al. (1994), and it states that a disaster occurs whenprocesses creating vulnerability meet with physical exposure to a hazard. The ‘release’ occurswhen vulnerability is reduced, thus reducing the extent of the disaster.Factors affecting vulnerability include access to resources and wealth, risk perceptions,community structure, and emergency management which organises warning, planning andresponse (Masozera et al., 2007).Blaikie et al. (1994) and many other authors (Cannon, 2005; Alexander, 2006; Cutter, 2006;Lukes, 2006; Mulcahy, 2006; Masozera et al., 2007; Schuemer-Cross & Taylor, 2009) haveargued that vulnerability is determined by social conditions and historical circumstances; andthat these conditions creating unequal exposure are perhaps more important than the hazarditself (Masozera et al., 2007). Cannon (2005) argues that understanding the effects of a naturalhazard can only occur through understanding everyday life before the trigger event.Northumbria University 1
  2. 2. Francesca Hughes Disaster Management & Sustainable Development The general PAR model is shown in Figure 1. The historical circumstances and social conditions that determine vulnerability are divided into root causes, dynamic pressures, and unsafe conditions. Root causes are “well-established, widespread processes within a society and world economy” (Blaikie et al., 1994:24): the political and economic ideologies, which affect the allocation and distribution of resources, and reflect the distribution of power. Dynamic pressures are “processes and activities that translate the effects of root causes into the vulnerability of unsafe conditions” (Blaikie et al., 1994:24). This effectively concerns access to resources and the scope of social protection measures. Class and race relations are important. Unsafe conditions are “the specific forms in which the vulnerability of a population is expressed in time and space in conjunction with a hazard” (Blaikie et al., 1994:26), such as poor quality housing and the actions of public institutions. Figure 1: Pressure and Release Model Root causes Dynamic Unsafe pressures conditions Limited access to: Lack of: Fragile physical Power Local institutions environment: Hazard structures Training Dangerous locations Appropriate skills Resources Unprotected Earthquake Local buildings and investments infrastructure High winds Ideologies: Local markets Political Press freedom (cyclone/ Fragile local hurricane/ systems Ethical standards economy: typhoon) in public life Economic Livelihoods at risk Human rights Risk systems Low income levels Flooding standards and = Gender accountability Vulnerable society: Hazard + Volcanic relations Special groups at Vulnerability eruption Human rights Macro forces: risk regimes Rapid population Lack of local Landslide growth institution Rapid Lack of rights based Drought urbanisation approaches Arms expenditure Virus and Public actions: pests Debt repayment Lack of disaster schedules preparedness Deforestation Prevalence of Decline in soil endemic disease productivitySource: Blaikie et a l. (1994) Northumbria University 2
  3. 3. Francesca Hughes Disaster Management & Sustainable DevelopmentHurricane KatrinaThe PAR Model will be used to analyse Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans in August2005, as one set of physical conditions resulted in two different outcomes. This paper will arguethat this was a result of factors already present in everyday life, making one group of peoplemore vulnerable. Hurricane Katrina played out as two events: a hurricane followed by a flood.What follows will show that the floods were exacerbated by human action, but first the problemsassociated with coastal storms and floods will be briefly described, as considered by Blaikie etal. (2004).Hurricanes bring wind, rain, flooding and storm surges: there will likely be damage to housing,roads, telecommunications and power facilities. Problems associated with flooding includewater and sewage damage, contamination through sewage, chemical and fuel leaks, andgarbage and debris. In developed countries, floods tend to cause few deaths but can cost up tobillions of dollars in damages. Floods are generally repetitive and are therefore known risks; soprotection should be possible, at least to a certain degree. Dams and levees provide someprotection, but can lead to a false sense of security (Blaikie et al., 2004:203-206).Despite the risky nature of coastal areas, colonial expansion and global economics have led togreater coastal populations all over the world. Flood-prone areas provide fertile land, andtherefore have been attractive to farming communities for years. Water was also, at one time,the primary means of transportation for goods and people. Trading posts grew alongwaterways; and communities, industry and commerce built up around these areas. Peoplemigrated in to work, and so communities of families and friends developed and settled (Blaikieet al., 2004:203-206). Nowadays many people in developed countries dream of retiring in thesun, which in the USA often means hurricane-prone areas such as Florida and the Gulf coast(Blaikie et al., 2004:246-249).Hurricane Katrina was a category 4 hurricane that hit the Gulf coast of the USA at 5am onMonday 29th August 2005. A 10-20 foot storm surge hit the coast and, in New Orleans, itentered Lake Pontchartrain (Congleton, 2006). It affected an estimated 90,000 square milesalong the coast, displaced at least 400,000 people (Masozera et al., 2007:303), and there were1,281 deaths (Wisner & Walker, 2005). Evacuation orders were issued in Alabama, Mississippiand Louisiana. More than 1 million people evacuated New Orleans on 27th and 28th August, butmore than 70,000 people stayed (Landry et al., 2007:326-327). The hurricane brought wind,rain and storm surge damage; but also damaged the levees, which slowly flooded 80% of thecity with up to 20 feet of water. Damage was estimated to cost at least $200 billion (Congleton,2006).Northumbria University 3
  4. 4. Francesca Hughes Disaster Management & Sustainable DevelopmentThis paper will examine the disaster by looking first to the root causes, then dynamic pressures,and finally the unsafe conditions.Root CausesFor New Orleans, factors such as its geographical situation and elevation, political andeconomic ideology, and historical racism are root causes of the disaster. 1. Geographical Situation, Environmental Change and Experience of HurricanesNew Orleans is situated in southern Louisiana, sandwiched between the Mississippi River to thesouth and Lake Pontchartrain to the north (shown in Figure 2). Its location at the intersection of3 navigable water bodies meant it became an important trading post. The city was built on thelowest elevation of the state, but the oldest parts of the city are on the highest ground in thebayou (Cutter, 2006). As commerce increased, so did the size of New Orleans: by 1860 thepopulation was almost 170,000 (Congleton, 2006:8). Growth of the city was inevitable due to itsimportance, and as the city expanded, lower elevations were settled. In 2002, the populationwas almost 500,000.Figure 2: Map of New OrleansSource: http://www.discoverneworlean s.com/maps/l ouisi ana.htm lNorthumbria University 4
  5. 5. Francesca Hughes Disaster Management & Sustainable DevelopmentIn 2005 much of the city was below sea level –as much as 3 metres below – and protected bylevees. Figure 3 shows a cross section of the city; and Figure 4 shows areas furthest below sealevel in pink and lilac, and levees as bright pink lines. A side effect of the levees is a reducedelevation of the city (Congleton, 2006): it is sinking in a bowl-shape, so drainage is an issue intimes of high rainfall (Cutter, 2006).Figure 3: New Orleans Ground ElevationSource: http://en.wikipe di a.org/wiki/File:New_ Orleans_Elevations.jpgFigure 4: New Orleans Elevation MapSource: http://en.wikipe di a.org/wiki/File: Msyelevst.jpgNorthumbria University 5
  6. 6. Francesca Hughes Disaster Management & Sustainable DevelopmentNew Orleans has been struck by several hurricanes in the last century: Betsy in 1965, Camillein 1969, and Katrina in 2005 (Masozera et al., 2007:301). Many of the older residentsremember previous, intense hurricanes. 2. Political and Economic IdeologyThe political ideology in the USA is one of neoliberalism and meritocracy, where everyone isseen to have the same chance of success; so poverty must be the result of a lack of hard workand ambition, as opposed to unequal opportunities or access to resources. This leads privilegedpeople – usually white – to ignore their advantages. These privileges are a result of history,oppression, and government assistance; and structural inequality continues today throughpolicy choices (Sweeney, 2006).The individualistic political ideology, together with a free-market economic ideology, leads to thepromotion of private interests and unequal distribution of power and resources. In New Orleans,lax environmental laws and land use regulations are adopted to attract industries such as petro-chemical, tourism and retirement development; as the fishing industry declines due tooverfishing and pollution (Wisner, 2005). 3. RacismThe historical discrimination of blacks through slavery and overt racism has produceddisparities in today’s society (Henkel et al., 2006). Southern USA is characterised by deep andcomplex racial and class relations. Policies to improve rights and conditions for former slaveswere particularly resisted in the southern states, and presidents made allowances for racialinequality to win political support (Strolovitch et al., 2006). Relatively few people have migratedinto New Orleans in recent decades, so these relations have hardened over time and are quiteunique (Elliott & Pais, 2006:297).Contemporary racism has been institutionalised, so that policies, either intentionally orunintentionally, “unfairly restrict the opportunities of particular groups of people” .(Henkel et al.,2006:101). It is believed that liberal, well-educated whites are ‘aversive racists’: they supportracial equality but also harbour – possibly unconsciously – negative feelings about blacks. Itoften leads to more positive attitudes towards whites rather than harm to blacks, but it wasstated in the Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders in 1968 that thishas led in part to their disadvantaged status (Henkel et al., 2006:102-104).Dynamic PressuresNew Orleans is in a precarious situation simply because of its geographical location, settled dueto its trading opportunities. Coupled with the southern history of slavery and racism, andNorthumbria University 6
  7. 7. Francesca Hughes Disaster Management & Sustainable Developmentindividualistic economic and political ideologies, everyday life becomes one of inequality,division and differentiated vulnerability. 1. Income, Wealth and Class RelationsConsidering the nation as a whole, the southern states of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippiare historically subordinate (Elliott & Pais, 2006:296). Many of the 37 million people in poverty inthe USA are in the south (Wisner, 2005). Inequality increases as governments reduce taxes forthe richest 1% and also reduce funding for social programmes in education, health, andemergency management; while increasing military and security spending. Republicangovernments have restructured the state so that the needs of poor people are not considered orcared about. In accordance with the political ideology, the system is concerned only withsecuring the private interests of the wealthiest (Goldberg, 2006).New Orleans is a city with high poverty, low-paid jobs (Masozera et al., 2007), violence andgang warfare (Alexander, 2006). Prior to Katrina, the poverty rate was twice the nationalaverage. The median per capita income was $19,711, compared to the national average of$24,020; and 38% of under-18s lived below the poverty level, compared to the state average of30%. Class and race are closely tied. Those in poverty tend to be black: 84% of those inpoverty were African-American. Ethnic minorities made up 72% of the population prior toKatrina, compared to the state average of 36.1% (Masozera et al., 2007:301-302). 2. Race RelationsSocial scientists have been trying to draw attention to racialised poverty in the USA for a longtime. It is a result of political decisions since slavery, and has not been a presidential campaignissue for almost 40 years (Strolovitch et al., 2006). The legacy of slavery and continuedexclusion and segregation has created racial disparities in wealth, and drives those with theleast resources into risky areas (Henkel et al., 2006; Molotch, 2006). Vast racial inequalities insouthern USA play out in terms of education, residential segregation, job segregation, lowerwages, and unequal distributions of wealth (Sweeney, 2006:164).Federal policies have trapped low income black families in poverty, as less funds are availablefor education, small businesses, and decent low-cost housing (Wisner, 2005). Discriminatorypolicies and practices have led to a distrust of whites, government, other authorities andpolicies; and also to blacks occupying more environmentally-vulnerable areas. In 1994, medianfamily income for blacks was $20,508, compared to $33,600 for whites, and income was 62%that of whites. Net worth of blacks was only $6,723, 12% of whites’ $52,944. They have moredifficulty finding jobs and tend to be over-represented in jobs with shift work, long hours andNorthumbria University 7
  8. 8. Francesca Hughes Disaster Management & Sustainable Developmentpoor job security. Blacks are denied loans more often that whites, which has contributed toresidential segregation (Henkel et al., 2006).New Orleans also has a history of racial tension, which increased in the months before Katrina:three white bouncers suffocated a black man during New Year celebrations in January 2005,followed a month later by a black teenager being shot by Jefferson County police with over 100bullets (Henkel et al., 2006:112). This is further exposed in comments in the aftermath ofKatrina, about whites ‘finding’ food while blacks were ‘looting’ (Sweeney, 2006:161). A doctorstranded in a hotel spoke to one newspaper and reported raiding a pharmacy under policeescort, while “looters had to be held back at gun point” (Charatan, 2005:531), apparently seeinga difference between himself and the ‘looters’. 3. Scope of Social ProtectionThe neoliberal, meritocratic political ideology outlined previously has led to a ‘small state’ in theUSA, without everyday social protection such as public transport, public health or affordablehousing policies (Wisner & Walker, 2005).Emergency protection can be broken down into prevention and mitigation, warning, andresponse. Prevention measures designed to protect the Gulf Coast were considered tooexpensive to implement (Atkins, 2005). New levees were estimated to cost $2.5 billion andwould take many years to complete (Congleton, 2006:12). Wetland improvement and offshoreartificial barrier island programmes were not funded (Wisner & Walker, 2005). Two modellingscenarios had been considered: a hurricane and storm surge, or a levee failure due to ahurricane (Cutter, 2006). However these focused on probabilistic scenarios rather than worst-case scenarios (Clarke, 2006), and calls for plans for the poorest residents fell on deaf ears(Wisner, 2005).Elections are always a consideration in the USA: current officials shy away from costly, long-term proposals that would benefit future government and leave few resources for the short-term(Congleton, 2006:15). Despite the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warningthat the 2005 hurricane season could be one of the most active on record (Clarke, 2006), fewsteps were taken at the local, state or federal level (Congleton, 2006:12). Evacuation plansshould have been a priority for all levels after the near-miss of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 (Murray,2005), but the potential threat to the population of the Gulf Coast was not a priority. The federalgovernment made huge cuts in hurricane and flood control funding, preventing necessary workfrom being completed (Duenas, 2005).Northumbria University 8
  9. 9. Francesca Hughes Disaster Management & Sustainable DevelopmentThe official evacuation plan was for citizens to pack up and leave (Congleton, 2006:15).Although residents knew evacuation plans and help from the city would not be enough, theywere not given alternatives (Alexander, 2006). During the summer of 2005, local officials wereputting together DVDs, essentially telling residents that they would be on their own in the eventof a major hurricane because the city did not have the resources to evacuate residents (Nolan,2005).At the national level, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was concerned withdisaster prevention under James Lee Witt (Alexander, 2006), but in 2003 FEMA was absorbedinto the newly-created Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It was weakened by this: focusshifted to counter-terrorism after 9/11, and natural hazards became second-order concerns(Holdeman, 2005). Some senior staff left (Wisner & Walker, 2005), and 75% of the‘preparedness grants’ were redirected towards counter-terrorism (Schneider, 2005:516). Five ofthe top 8 officials had little experience in managing disasters (Lukes, 2006).The vulnerability of the citizens was increased prior to Katrina by development decisions in NewOrleans, and the actions and inactions of the US Army Corps of Engineers (Murray, 2005).FEMA used to encourage states and cities to prepare for disasters: its changing role was acrucial factor in the local, state and federal response to Katrina (Alexander, 2006). 4. Human-made Environmental ChangesWisner & Walker (2005) stated that the effects of Katrina were accentuated by human-madechanges to the local environment. This began when human interference affected ‘deltaswitching’ about 100 years ago. The Mississippi River has been delta switching for over 7000years, to find a shorter route to the sea. It abandons its main channel roughly every 1,000 years(Heerden, 2007). This resulted in a net gain of land of approximately 3 km2 per year, prior tohuman intervention. Enhanced river navigation became a national interest in the 19th century,and by 1851, levees were extending for up to 20 miles (Heerden, 2007:25). Floods oftenbreached early levees. Flood control became a federal issue in 1879 for the Army Corps ofEngineers, under the authority of the Mississippi River Commission (Congleton, 2006:9). Overthe years construction has practically eliminated overland flooding, and terminated naturalwetland accretion.Coastal wetlands are being destroyed by the activities of petro-chemical industries, tourism-driven developments and the building of retirement homes. This is driven by the political andeconomic environment, promoting private interest with little concern for social andenvironmental consequences (Wisner, 2005). One mile of coastal wetland can reduce a stormsurge by 1 foot: 1,000 square miles have been lost along the Louisiana coast in the past 50Northumbria University 9
  10. 10. Francesca Hughes Disaster Management & Sustainable Developmentyears (Wisner & Walker, 2005). Oil and gas exploration in the 20th century led to the dredging of“thousands of miles of access canals, pipeline canals, and navigation channels” (Heerden,2007:25), disrupting the natural wetland hydrology, and increasing the risk of flooding in the city(Congleton, 2006:11).Unsafe ConditionsThese dynamic pressures led to unsafe conditions that some of the population lived in prior toKatrina, making them more vulnerable to the effects of the natural hazard. Blaikie et al. (1994)considered unsafe conditions in terms of limited self-protection and social protection. 1. Self-protectionAvailable choices differ depending on income and residence. Many who ‘chose’ to stay in NewOrleans had no transport, did not think their property would be protected, and did not haveinsurance (Atkins, 2005). According to the census in 2000, 54% of poor households, and 65%of poor elderly households, did not have their own transportation, which would make it moredifficult to evacuate and therefore increase their vulnerability. 35% of black households and59% of poor black households, and 15% of white non-Hispanic households did not have privatetransportation (Sherman & Shapiro, 2005:2). Lower socioeconomic status and poor access tobetter-paid work meant blacks especially could not buy a vehicle, which would have helpedthem evacuate, and they also lacked the means to pay for a hotel room (Henkel et al.,2006:108). Other people who might require help to evacuate include elderly and special needspopulations, homeless people, transients and tourists (Cutter, 2006).As well as access to private transport, class and racial division also affected where people lived,including population density and quality of land and housing. In New Orleans in 2005, 70% ofthe population lived on 36% of the land, at or below sea level, and much of this was flooded(Heerden, 2007:24). Public housing largely occupied by blacks was on lower, more flood-proneland. Middle income blacks living in New Orleans East bought affordable homes built on slabs,up to 4 foot below sea level. Lower Ninth Ward was home to multi-generational black families,close to an industrial canal, and had been devastated by Hurricane Betsy (Henkel et al.,2006:108). In areas that experienced the most damage, a large proportion of the populationwere poor (Masozera et al., 2007:303).Blacks were less inclined to evacuate before the storm, most believing the storm would not beas devastating as it was, due to previous experience (Elliott & Pais, 2006:113). Older peoplehad already survived several other hurricanes: why should this one be any different? Deep-rooted feelings of distrust of government, which existed due to past policies, probablycontributed to decisions not to evacuate (Henkel et al., 2006:113).Northumbria University 10
  11. 11. Francesca Hughes Disaster Management & Sustainable DevelopmentLimited self-protection, through access to transport, existing assets, and quality of housing, wasinfluential for many of those who remained. Perceived risk was another deciding factor. 2. Social protectionSocial protection in New Orleans is generally focused around the levees and HurricaneProtection System (HPS), weather warnings, evacuation orders, and the local, state and federalresponse.Katrina was expected in the sense that a major hurricane is always a risk in New Orleans due toits location. The weather service did a good job of tracking Katrina (Scanlon, 2006). However,mandatory evacuation orders for the most vulnerable areas, mostly inhabited by blacks, weredelayed until 19 hours before landfall, despite 56 hours warning. Evacuation became impossiblefor many people once the severity of the hurricane became clear (Henkel et al., 2006).Prediction and warning became disengaged: scientific information was not translated into publicaction (Alexander, 2006).The federal government declared an emergency, but residents were on their own in terms ofevacuation (Duenas, 2005). The evacuation announcement led to many people leaving the city,but others considered the message less urgent due to the shelters within the city (Scanlon,2006). The census in 2000 registered many people who would require help, including 102,000residents with a disability, and people over 65 who accounted for 12% of the population (Wisner& Walker, 2005), but there were no plans to use buses, trains or planes to evacuate thosewithout private transport (Wisner, 2005).More than half of the 3,560 miles of levee system was breached or destroyed. Theeffectiveness of the HPS is diminished because it is designed on antiquated assumptions andpolicies. The Army Corps of Engineers was aware of vulnerabilities, but seemed uninterested inmaking improvements. Engineering errors and political decisions left New Orleans with a sub-standard levee system (Heerden, 2007).The breakdown of administrative elements in emergency management played a role in themajor problems of Katrina, at the local, state and federal levels (Schneider, 2005). TheGovernor was reluctant to give up her authority, but she did ask for federal help before thelevees were breached (Lukes, 2006). FEMA waited until they were called on by local and stategovernments with specific requests rather than initiating relief efforts (Clarke, 2006). Federalagencies blamed local and state government for vague requests (Molotch, 2006). FEMA trainedfirefighters in community relations for days before sending them into New Orleans, stoppedNorthumbria University 11
  12. 12. Francesca Hughes Disaster Management & Sustainable Developmenttrucks carrying bottled water, and refused other aid (Lukes, 2006). The inability of publicagencies to assist disaster victims led to a breakdown of social order (Schneider, 2005:515).Those who were stranded broke into stores for supplies in their desperation. The Mayor andGovernor prioritised law and order, to stop widespread looting and violence (Duenas, 2005).The Superdome and Convention Centre were used to house people who were not able toevacuate, but there was no electricity, toilets or water. Hygiene standards were below theminimum Sphere standards (Wisner, 2005). People were turned away from the Superdome byarmed guards when capacity was reached (Congleton, 2006:18). The National Guard was sentin on 31st August, but food and water was not sent until 2nd September (Charatan, 2005). Mediareports about violence and crime were exaggerated, but served to aggravate relations when thetroops arrived (Wisner & Walker, 2005).Those who were unable to self-protect were not adequately assisted by authorities (Schuemer-Cross & Taylor, 2009:47): they were “left to sink or swim” (Younge, 2005). However there wassome good practice: the coastguard rescued twice as many people in the aftermath than it hadover the previous 50 years (Wachtendorf & Kendra, 2006).SummaryPoor self-protection resulted from limited access to resources and assets, which is a result ofpolitical and economic systems that promote inequality and private gain, as well as the historyof racism and discrimination. Poor social protection was a result of the inability andincompetence of public institutions, both before the disaster (the inadequacy of the levees andproper planning) and in the aftermath (the slow, uncoordinated response). These were resultsof the political and economic systems, which did not prioritise social protection. Wetlanddestruction also worsened the effects of the hurricane, and again, this occurred as privateinterests were promoted over social interests in the free market, neoliberal environment.Flooding affected neighbourhoods regardless of income or race, but lower socio-economicgroups were made vulnerable by a lack of revenue, resources and political will; together withthe free-market ideology, destruction of wetlands, and reliance on the levees (Alexander, 2006).ReleaseSocio-economic status is also important in recovery, due to insurance, savings, more secureemployment and income (Mulcahy, 2006; Masozera et al., 2007). In order to prevent anothersimilar disaster, the area requires proper disaster planning and an effective evacuation plan, aswell as the re-establishment of barrier islands and wetlands, and the construction of goodquality housing for all. Class and racial divisions need to be managed, and social protectionNorthumbria University 12
  13. 13. Francesca Hughes Disaster Management & Sustainable Developmentneeds to become a priority. The future does not look good. Henkel (2006) stated thatpredominantly white communities were able to ‘look and leave’ much sooner than blackcommunities, and bulldozing was commissioned before informing residents. Institutional actionsin the recovery phase have further fuelled racial divisions and distrust. Low income and poorcredit have led to 82% of 276,000 loan applications to the Small Business Administration (SBA)being rejected. Alternative grants from FEMA are less than a quarter of that available from SBA(Goldberg, 2006:91). Meanwhile, the wealthy, powerful, white elite are determined to rebuild thecity with fewer poor people and therefore fewer blacks. The root causes have not changed, sothe continued unequal distribution of power and resources will lead to the promotion of theinterests of oil and shipping firms and tourism developers (Marcuse, 2006).ConclusionIn considering whether the factors leading to vulnerabilities were more important than thenatural hazard itself, it can be concluded that this was very much the case in New Orleans.Media attention initially focused on the strength of the storm, individual action and poor disastermanagement. As the social reality of New Orleans became better known, more focus wasplaced on management. Self-protection was limited and social protection failed: there was littlepreparedness, no evacuation plan for the poorest, and the failure of levees that were never builtto standard anyway. But these issues were a result of bigger factors, which academic writersand better journalism drew attention to: the class and race divisions present in American societyand especially New Orleans; human-made environmental change as a result of privateinterests; and the focus and scope of government and disaster management approaches. It hasbeen argued that these were the results of the economic and political ideologies of the USA,and history of slavery.Katrina exposed disparities that were the result of underlying power structures and inequalitieswith historical and institutional roots (Strolovitch et al., 2006). Disasters reflect neglect by elitesand poor governance, which leads to fragile livelihoods (Wisner & Gaillard, 2009). Ifvulnerability is to be reduced, disaster management policy must focus on improving socialconditions: improving these fragile livelihoods (Cutter, 2006; Masozera et al., 2007). It ispossible that in a society more concerned with social and environmental matters, that theoutcome would have been quite different. In Cuba’s disaster management, a high priority isassigned to human life and collective action. There is a four-phase plan: the public is informedthat a hurricane is likely to strike two days ahead, and a day later they are told to prepare forevacuation. The third phase is telling the public that a hurricane has struck; and immediately allvehicles are prepared to evacuate people. All in a country with scarce fuel and poor roadconditions (Sims & Vogelmann, 2002).Northumbria University 13
  14. 14. Francesca Hughes Disaster Management & Sustainable DevelopmentReferencesAlexander, D. (2006) Symbolic and Practical Interpretations of the Hurricane Katrina Disaster in New Orleans. [Online]. Available at: <http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org/Alexander/> (Accessed: 18 November 2010).Atkins, D. (2005) Left behind: the legacy of hurricane Katrina, British Medical Journal, 331, pp. 916-918.Blaikie, P., Cannon, T., Davis, I. & Wisner, B. (1994) At Risk: Natural Hazards, Peoples Vulnerability and Disasters. 1st edn. London: Routledge.Blaikie, P., Cannon, T., Davis, I. & Wisner, B. (2004) At Risk: Natural Hazards, Peoples Vulnerability and Disasters. 2nd edn. London: Routledge.Cannon, T. (2005) New Orleans and Looting.Charatan, F. (2005) US government declares emergency after Hurricane Katrina, British Medical Journal, 331, p. 531.Clarke, L. (2006) Worst Case Katrina. [Online]. Available at: <http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org/Clarke/> (Accessed: 18 November 2010).Congleton, R. D. (2006) The story of Katrina: New Orleans and the political economy of catastrophe, Public Choice, 127, pp. 5-30.Cutter, S. (2006) The Geography of Social Vulnerability: Race, Class, and Catastrophe. [Online]. Available at: <http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org/Cutter/> (Accessed: 18 November 2010).Duenas, R. A. (2005) Katrina: A Preventable Social Disaster. [Online]. Available at: <http://www.kersplebedeb.com/mystuff/katrina/granma1.html> (Accessed: 23 November 2010).Elliott, J. R. & Pais, J. (2006) Race, class, and Hurricane Katrina: Social differences in human responses to disaster, Social Science Research, 35, pp. 295-321.Goldberg, D. T. (2006) Deva-stating Disasters: Race in the Shadow(s) of New Orleans, Du Bois Review, 3 (1), pp. 83-95.Heerden, I. v. (2007) Th e Failure of the New Orleans Levee System Following Hurricane Katrina and the Pathway Forward, Public Administration Review, (Special Issue), pp. 24-35.Henkel, K. E., Dovidio, J. F. & Gaertner, S. L. (2006) Institutional Discrimination, Individual Racism, and Hurricane Katrina, Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 6 (1), pp. 99-124.Holdeman, E. (2005) Destroying FEMA, Washington Post, 30 August 2005.Landry, C. E., Bin, O., Hindsley, P., Whitehead, J. C. & Wilson, K. (2007) Going Home: Evacuation- Migration Decisions of Hurricane Katrina Survivors, Southern Economic Journal, 74 (2), pp. 326- 343.Lukes, S. (2006) Questions About Power: Lessons from the Louisiana Hurricane. [Online]. Available at: <http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org/Lukes/> (Accessed: 18 November 2010).Marcuse, P. (2006) Rebuilding a Tortured Past or Creating a Model Future: The Limits and Potential of Planning, in Hartman, C. & Squires, G. D. (eds.) There is No Such Thing As a Natural Disaster: Race, Class and Hurricane Katrina. London: Routledge, pp. 271-290.Masozera, M., Bailey, M. & Kerchner, C. (2007) Distribution of impacts of natural disasters across income groups: A case study of New Orleans, Ecological Economics, 63, pp. 299-306.Molotch, H. (2006) Death on the Roof: Race and Bureaucratic Failure. [Online]. Available at: <http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org/Molotch/> (Accessed: 18 November 2010).Northumbria University 14
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