A Decade After Katrina

What have we learned in terms of disaster management in the 10 years after Hurricane Katrina? An article in the Hartford Courant talks about the effects that a hurricane could have on the coastal state of Connecticut and the steps that the state has taken.

Compliance with the National Incident Management System from the state’s five emergency planning region teams was a start, as well as national accreditation EMAP, the nonprofit emergency preparedness firm EMAP, according to the article.

However, the article points to an over-populated shoreline and dependence on the electricity grid as opposed to diverse sources of power, such as microgrids.

How have national organizations and disaster management professionals responded to Katrina in changing their planning over the last decade? In an article in the Huffington Post, American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern talks about the initiatives the organization has taken to move forward.

Developing the “Safe and Well” website to connect families after a disaster has been used more recently after the Boston Marathon bombing by more than 450 people, says McGovern.

Free disaster preparedness mobile apps, such as the Emergency App that alerts people to hazardous weather and provides safety and preparedness tips, also make us of social media. The app’s "I'm Safe" feature uses social media channels to alert friends and family that the user is ok post-disaster. Social media also plays a role in the Red Cross digital operations centers where social media feeds are monitored when disasters occur, says McGovern.

“When a tornado and flash flood recently hit Wise County, a small rural area northwest of Fort Worth, digital volunteers were able to gather street addresses, photographs from the ground, and up-to-the-minute information on county roads where damage had occurred. This information was given to disaster response teams before the first relief truck even rolled in. It saved hours of work for field responders, making for a more effective response operation,” wrote McGovern.