The United States has experienced the worst human-made and natural disasters in recent decades. The attack of the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, altered the approach used by the United States, in dealing with natural and human-made disasters such as tsunami, tornadoes, terrorism, and hurricanes. The increased terrorist attack increased concern, which resulted in the establishment of Homeland Security, and enactment of policies and programs to mitigate the natural and human-made disasters. It is against the backdrop of this case that this article seeks to examine the function of the homeland security in mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, and management of hurricane Sandy and Katrina.
Disaster refers to a natural or human-made event which can destroy life, infrastructure and natural landscape such as terrorism, tsunami, tornadoes, and hurricanes, which results in death and destruction of property, and disrupts the society. Communities that have experienced disaster have learned that emergency management can become useful if government policies and programs that focus on mitigating and managing disasters are established and executed based on capacity building, to address the future disaster. The hazard occurs as a possible, direct, and indirect risk to the environment, life, and property. After the occurrence of a disaster, chain effects may occur, leading to the disruption to the social fabric and community, and a total breakdown of communication and services, hence there is the need to implement relative measures which focus on preparedness, mitigation, assessment and management (McDonald, 2007).
According to Rodriguez, Dynes & Quarantelli (2006), the policies governing the department of homeland security, are designed, adopted, and implemented to mitigate the natural and human-made disasters. The department operates within a framework that guides its operations and deals with worst-case scenario through structuring and reorganizing crisis management and preparedness programs. The September 11 disaster demonstrates that terrorism requires long term investment in recovery, to prevent mass destruction and mass casualties. However, Halverson & Rabenhorst (2013), notes that few are at equal risk of attack by humanmade disasters, but are more prone to natural disasters which require quick action by emergency responders. Disasters can serve the turning point which results to the enactment of new laws, practices, and policies, for example, the occurrence of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in the year 2005, and hurricane Sandy in the 2012, changed the homeland's security focus to the threats from natural disasters.
According to Pinkowski (2008), hurricane Katrina and Sandy are one of the most significant disasters dealt with by homeland security in recent times. The prevention of preparedness for, responding to, recovering from, and mitigation of potential disaster, is vital for any incident, described as an all-hazard approach to emergency management. Among other challenges, disaster recovery has occupied the attention of disaster policy and politics, especially given the enormous challenges and the costs associated with the two disasters. Hurricanes are the costliest type of disaster based on Disaster Relief Fund historical spending data, and recovery spending for hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, which accounts for approximately three-quarters of all hurricanes spending since 1996.
Hurricane Katrina is a natural disaster that took place in August 2005 which led to massive flooding in Orleans, while the Sandy disaster is a storm which caused power outages, infrastructure damage and disruption to transport services that devastated the coastal area of New Jersey in 2012 (Kilroy, 2018). According to Bullock & Bullock (2009), the stress from both storms had a devastating effect on environmental health impacts with acute and long-term health implications, for example, it resulted to loss of lives, post-traumatic stress disorder, destruction of property, forced relocation, and financial loss. After the occurrence of Hurricane Katrina, the department of homeland security played a vital role in planning and executing evacuation plans, including, providing temporary homes for the displaced persons. Moreover, the department of homeland security also arranged for the transportation and evacuation of the affected residents to safer places. During Hurricane Katrina relief effort, the Homeland Security Operations Centre leadership and staff, together with Incident Management Division, played a crucial role in monitoring operations that focus on their primary mission of providing awareness to the nationwide stakeholders accurately and timely. During Hurricane Katrina, most hospitals and medical facilities in New Orleans were flooded; therefore, Homeland security played a vital role in evacuating patients, transporting supplies and health equipment and also requesting more support team. The 2010 quadrennial Homeland Security Review urged the need to mitigate protect and prevent disasters through outlining the core capabilities Haddow, Bullock & Coppola (2014). Currently, the Department of Homeland Security has national preparedness goalswhich identityy what is necessary, to foster a resilient nation rooted in unified effort across the community. The core capabilities are premised on the significant functions which must be developed and executed across all areas within the United States, to ensure that everyone is prepared for the disaster. Moreover, the core capabilities enable ease allocation of resources by focusing on specific threats (Lu, Lu & Li, 2017).
Homeland Security helps the victims of disasters undergo recovery. The recovery can be short term or immediate. During Hurricane Katrina, Homeland security helped the victim recover from the disaster by assisting in preserving life and basic subsistence. They also assessed damages cleared debris and reconstructed vital infrastructures and building. Beyond physical reconstruction, they also address the social needs of the community through engaging social workers and counselor who helped repair their psychological fabric that made the community functional. Concerning the response to the disaster, the department of homeland security also collaborated with other agencies of the National Response Framework through establishing all hazard approach. The approach provided solutions to Katrina hurricanes, and also future disasters like Sandy through aligning across tier government and including the whole community to augment the government response. The approach helped establish protocols regarding homeland safety, protecting and restoring critical resources and infrastructures, saving lives and preventing an imminent incident from occurring Institute of Medicine (US). Committee on Post-Disaster Recovery of a Community's Public Health, Medical, and Social Services, 2015).
Hurricane Sandy disaster, had a devastating effect, especially on critical infrastructures such as electricity and destruction of homes. Before the occurrence of the disaster, the department of homeland security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency worked with the residents of New Jersey in disaster preparedness. The department prepared for the storm through supporting a prompt a coordinated response effort, hence helping in understanding the needs of survivors, and a platform for the planning of future needs. Federal Emergency Management Agency and the department of homeland security developed a catastrophic scenario plan with the state, which allowed collaboration and coordination with the community in preparation for a range of disaster events (Sylves, 2015).
Before the occurrence of Sandy at the East coast, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Commerce's National Hurricane Centre assessed the intensity of the storm, then engaged the communities to stage resources which could be utilized in disaster preparedness by supporting response efforts. They also set up support bases in Massachusetts and Westover Air Reserve Base, which supplied water communication vehicles, blankets, and meals in preparation for the disaster. Moreover, they deployed incident management teams (Egli, 2014).
After the occurrence of Hurricane Sandy, the department of homeland security embarked on community stabilization and power restoration, as a measure to mitigate and minimize the severity and the impact of the disaster. The department of homeland security engaged the service of the department of transport, energy human services and health and engineers, who helped restore power, repair damaged roads and bridges, and also stop the spread of waterborne diseases. They also facilitated communication by establishing radio networks that enabled critical voice operability and interoperability for all response team supporting the mitigation of the disaster (Doss, McElreath, Wigginton, 2013).
The response of the department of homeland security, to hurricane Sandy, took the form of an unwatering mission, which was geared towards evacuating victims of the disaster from flooded areas. Homeland security engaged engineers from the 249th battalion who responded to the disaster by pumping out the flooded water from Brooklyn battery tunnel and Queens Midtown tunnel, homes, roads, railway and communication infrastructures, thus offering the rescue team with a chance to relocate and also offer medical assistance to the victims of disaster (Craig, 2012).
After the occurrence of Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey experienced fuel shortage, thus prioritizing fuel distribution as a recovery process to the disaster. The department of homeland security established fuel distribution points and facilitated the shipment of gas to alleviate the shortage. Homeland security also sought the support of Federal Emergency Management Agency's energy task force who purchased and distributed fuel to gas stations, based on determined needs and priorities, as an essential step to the recovery process. It also repaired the damaged electrical meters, restored electricity, and conducted exterior repairs to storm-damaged residences (Craig, 2012).
The department of homeland security has worked and will continue working with the United States citizens, and other government and non-governmental agencies in disaster preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery process. However, homeland security must also realize the challenges posed by globalization, such as the introduction of the internet. Homeland security must also develop mitigating, preparedness, response, and recovery measure to help address humanmade disasters like terrorism through communicating and sharing ideas.
Bullock, J. A., & Bullock, J. A. (2009). Introduction to homeland security: Principles of all-hazards response. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Butterworth Heinemann.
Doss, D. A., McElreath, D. H., Wigginton Jr, M., Nations, R., & Van Slyke, J. (2013). Introduction to homeland security. CRC Press.
Egli, D. S. (2014). Beyond the storms: Strengthening homeland security and disaster management to achieve resilience. Routledge.
Haddow, G. D., Bullock, J. A., & Coppola, D. P. (2014). Introduction to emergency management.
Halverson, J. B., & Rabenhorst, T. (2013). Hurricane Sandy: The science and impacts of a superstorm. Weatherwise, 66(2), 14-23.
Institute of Medicine (US). Committee on Post-Disaster Recovery of a Community's Public Health, Medical, and Social Services. (2015). Healthy, resilient, and sustainable communities after disasters: strategies, opportunities, and planning for recovery. National Academies Press.
Kilroy, R. J. (2018). Threats to Homeland Security: Reassessing the All Hazards Perspective.
Lu, Lu, X., & L . (20...
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