Emergency Management When Emergency Strikes, All Levels Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1618 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Business - Management

Emergency Management

When emergency strikes, all levels of government do what is required and spend but later worry about paying for all the spending. Some governments have contingency or emergency funds for disaster response. It is the responsibility of governments to protect their citizens from disasters but even if a disaster strikes they are responsible for helping them to recover. In most cases emergency funds are exhausted and most governments have to call for some emergency measures. In United States, special session of the legislature is called to seek additional appropriations.

Hurricane Katrina

In case of emergencies like Hurricane Katrina or 9/11 people look towards governments to come to their rescue. Here, Hurricane Katrina has become very crucial for public as emergency response and its management failed. Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region but the response to this devastation by the world's most developed nation was exposed for the world to see. Response came in a very slow and disorganized manner. Poor planning has been one of the key reasons of poor response in the wake of Katrina. Apart from planning other complaints like widespread abuses in government emergency cash assistance programs for disaster victims also came to front. Later reports also found out that late warnings were issued by the officials for mandatory evacuations in the New Orleans area leading to deaths and prolonged suffering.

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Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Term Paper on Emergency Management When Emergency Strikes, All Levels Assignment

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was made under the provisions of the Stafford Act of 1988 to deal with disasters and emergencies. These and other such organizations are made to deal with all aspects of emergency response to disasters. FEMA joined 21 other agencies in the Department of Homeland Security in March 2003. "The new strategy sought to bring a wide range of agencies with domestic programs within the umbrella of the DHS. Three separate components of the DHS umbrella furthered Bush's domestic policy goals: one legislative, one organizational, and one budgetary. The legislative component gave all the agencies moved to DHS new statutory responsibility that differed from their legacy mandates. Specifically, agencies brought within the umbrella had a new law requiring them to act. In contrast to the agencies in the Reagan era, the agencies moved to DHS now faced a set of statutes with conflicting goals-their legacy mandates vs. The new homeland security mandate" (Cohen, Cuellar & Weingast, 2006).

After its inclusion in the Department of Homeland Security, many criticized the move and called for its standing as an independent department. Bureaucracy became the major issue with the new organizational system as opposed to its previous structure. Under the new department the goals and missions changed to fighting terrorism rather than preparing for a natural disaster response. Since Homeland Security's primary focus is anti-terrorism their funding and budgetary allowances or grants to state and local governments during the past four years have been to focus on preventing and responding to terrorist attacks. So, when disaster struck, it resulted in a crisis in New Orleans.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the calls were made to fix FEMA with respect to FEMA's organization and funding. Myriad issues and problems have been identified. FEMA's budget has been cut each year since 2003 as well as its staff has been cut. Worst move was when one of its three emergency management teams responsible for overseeing federal disaster relief efforts was eliminated. Budgeting that was previously done for disaster or emergency management in cases of natural or other disasters was done for managing terror-related activities. They failed to realize that forces of nature can be just as crippling and devastating as terrorism could be. The realization later came that they should manage their funds in a way that they can make a fast, massive and coordinated response.

Budgeting for Disasters

For budgeting it is important to know whether disaster response should be episodic or routine. Episodic means infrequent, and in such a situation budgeting will resemble capital budgeting. If the response required is of routine nature then budgeting should be more like operating budgeting. Disaster response mostly requires a combination of budgeting types. Sometimes it may also happen that episodic budgeting may eventually transform into something that looks more routine. As mentioned earlier, special fund is usually present by different names like contingency funds, rainy day funds, fund balance etc. In serious circumstances extreme ad hoc budgeting is required. "As of February 2006, $88 billion in federal aid had been allocated for relief, recovery, and rebuilding, with another $20 billion requested to help victims of the storm and to rebuild the region. (38) but the federal government and state governments consistently shorted precautionary investments that would have reduced losses at a small percentage of the costs" (Depoorter, 2006).

Types of Disasters and Response

In order to do proper budgeting for disasters it is important to analyze the types of disasters and based on the location and previous trends what kind of disaster or emergency is most likely to hit a particular area. The emergencies or disasters are generally characterized into four different types that is natural catastrophes, accidents, civil unrest, and terrorism. Different localities or states have to make assessments of their own threats customized for their situation. Among these four, natural disasters include earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, ice storms, blizzards, droughts, heat waves, atmospheric inversions, pandemics, epidemics etc. Human actions or developments in response to natural disasters may help in precipitating them or inflating their consequences. Sometimes it happens that components of the built environment suffer structural failure resulting in an emergency situation like dam failures, levee failures, building collapses, water treatment failures, explosions, air crashes, shipwrecks, oil spills, power outages, and nuclear reactor accidents etc. Other emergency situations include riots, insurrections and other terror related activities. Losses and government expenditures are incurred in case of any emergency striking a state or an area. It is hard to trace fiscal and budgetary impacts in case of previous disasters in the history. However, loss estimates and total insurance claims may be available for different disasters.

Stages of Disaster and Budgetary Response

Generally eight stages of disaster response are identified that is: planning, prevention, preparedness, mitigation, response, recovery, remediation, and reconstruction. Each stage requires a different response. Sometimes all stages do not occur in reality and sometimes the boundaries among different stages blur while different stages happening at a time. Among all these stages planning and preparedness are two stages which require a proactive approach by the government local or federal. Planning is usually funded by separate grants or sub-grants. The allocation of the budget is made to separate departments and agencies, like police, fire etc.

Expense and commitment of resources is required more in prevention and mitigation activities. Prevention and mitigation measures can be very costly and typically have the largest budgets of all the predisaster stages. "Consider the estimated $34 billion to rebuild the New Orleans levees and restore coastal wetlands to protect against a category 5 hurricane instead of the pre- Katrina design standard of category 3. This is usually called flood prevention, but it is actually mitigation to reduce the damage from a disastrous hurricane. This bit of cost data from Katrina illustrates an important truth about mitigation and prevention and the budgets for them. The plans and the budget fit the worst recent disaster in the category. It is like preparing to fight the last war. Only careful planning and attention to projecting impacts of the full range of probable disaster intensities can give appropriate or cost-effective mitigation measures and budgets" (Smith, 2006).

Training, medicine, certification, physical exams, operational and support personnel and their expenses are included in budgeting of preparedness stage. Rescue, relief, civil continuity, and reassurance are the part of response made to a disaster. Previously, response has been paid for under… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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