Post Katrina Recovery: Hard Lessons Learned

With an estimated 60,000 damaged or destroyed homes along the coast of Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many were not covered by flood insurance. Why? Because not many people envisioned the scope of flooding that occurred when Katrina hit. Luckily, this issue was dealt with by Mississippi's Homeowners Assistance Program. This did little though to alleviate the destruction of key roads and bridges in the coastal areas, which in turn hampered emergency responders as the crisis developed. Businesses were left without utilities and worse yet, those who worked at those businesses were dealing with problems of their own at home. All in all, a full one-third of Mississippians were affected directly in some way by Hurricane Katrina, according to an article by www.emergencymgmt.com.

Initial efforts to deal with the destruction of homes and businesses, the displacement of people, and the damaging of vital infrastructure were unsuccessful. What had worked in the past no longer worked. A new way had to be found, which turned out to be the establishment of the Disaster Recovery Division in 2008, a full three years after Katrina had left its impact on the region. This division was tasked with overseeing all aspects of the post Katrina recovery plan. Organized to follow a private-sector model, each of the 20 recovery programs developed by the Disaster Recovery Division was treated as a product offered to those who need to use them.

One of the biggest concerns of the Division following Katrina was to identify problem areas in the recovery process, and to keep contractors on schedule to complete their contracts on time and on budget. This was facilitated by programming and production managers reporting upon the day-to-day progress of programs under their control, and auditing regularly to check that each step in the process is operating as it should.

This, in turn, allowed government officials to determine where problem areas lied and allowed remedies to be put into place to rectify those situations which warranted such action. In the end, this saved the state of Mississippi both crucial recovery time and taxpayer dollars. This story can be used as a lesson learned and model of disaster preparedness for other organizations out there.

For more information about how one state responded to Hurricane Katrina, visit: http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Hurricane-Katrina-Lessons-Learned-Mississippis-Recovery.html