Literature Review Chapter: Evaluating and Explaining Organizational Accountability in Emergency Management of Typhoon Morakot a Citizens Perspective

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¶ … Organizational Accountability in Emergency Management of Typhoon Morakot: A Citizens' Perspective -- Literature Review Chapter

Typhoon Morakot

The contemporaneous society is unfortunate enough to be witnessing numerous natural calamities. The debate over the causes of these calamities is ongoing, with some arguing the very force of nature and its changing shapes, whilst others blaming the changes on the devastating actions of man, which pollute and change the natural environment. In other words, there is the belief according to which more natural calamities occur as a result of global warming. This view is shared by the environment specialists at the United Nations, who include the Morakot Typhoon on the list of the most significant climate anomalies from 2007 through 2009. They refer to the typhoon as to the "worst flooding in inches of rain in southern parts" (McMullen and Jabbour, 2009, p.3).

Regardless of the causes generating more natural calamities, fact remains that the incremental numbers and intensities of the natural hazards have created a new need within the modern day society. And this need is organized under the generic concept of emergency management. Relevant examples of how emergency management was implemented include the rescuing of the World Trade Center survivors, the rescuing of the Katrina survivors or the recent investigation of the Polish President's Lech Kaczynski's plane crash. The need for emergency management was also obvious in 2009's Taiwan, as the region was hit by the Morakot typhoon.

Taiwan is a region rich in typhoons. During one regular summer, more than twelve typhoons can occur; and they can often cause disastrous effects. Ironically enough, the word typhoon means the deadly storm of Taiwan. The most recent Typhoon Morakot is the most damaging one.

The "typhoon has a large low pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rains. The strong winds and the heavy rains usually cause landslides and mudslides. […] On August 8, 2009, Typhoon Morakot hit southern Taiwan. It is the deadliest typhoon that sweeps Taiwan in recorded history. The storm brought a record-setting rainfall, nearly 3000mm (almost 10 feet) rainfall accumulated in 72 hours. The rainfall spawned mudslide made a devastating damage to several villages and buried hundreds of lives" (Taniar, Gervasi, Murgante. Pardede and Apduhan, 2010, p. 368). Sadly enough, at the time of the mudslide, no warning mechanism had been in place.

The impacts of the typhoon are incommensurable in the short-term. First of all, there is the noted loss of over five hundred lives, the loss of homes and of entire villages which were buried in the land or mudslides. Aside the social aspect of the tragedy, the country will also face long-term impacts of an economic nature. Within the touristy industry -- one of the most important generators of income to the state budget -- the typhoon has caused losses of over 800 million New Taiwan Dollars -- at the exchange rates of April 12, 800 New Taiwan Dollars equaled approximately 25 million United States Dollars (Universal Currency Converter, 2010). The losses accounted for both destructions within the industry, as well as associated losses from the inability to offer touristy services as initially planned. "Morakot has led to losses worth some NT$670 million in the six national scenic areas in terms of income and facilities, not including damage worth some NT$137 million to 17 hotels, such as the 30-year-old Chinsuai Hotel in the Chihpen hot spring area of Taitung County, which collapsed early Sunday due to serious landslides" (Wang, 2009).

There are also losses within the agricultural field, as cultures were drowned. The result is a socio-economic problem of reduced food sufficiency and self sustainability, but also the inability to honor the export contracts. Also, the infrastructure in the southern part of the island was negatively affected, meaning that all kinds of future operations in the area will be, in one way or the other, disrupted (Oxford Economic Country Briefings, 2009). Overall, these will take their toll on the country's national output and consequently, on its international competitiveness.

Given this status quo, a question is being posed relative to the possibility of having better managed the crisis so as to reduce the intensity of the impact. In order to answer this question, it is first necessary to comprehend the concept of emergency management. Once this is achieved, it is better possible to assess the emergency management manifestations within Taiwan from various standpoints, such as organizational accountability, victim perspectives or citizen participation.

2. Emergency Management

It is rather difficult to offer a definition of emergency management and the editors within the specialized literature have often overlooked this aspect. In the most simplistic terms, emergency management refers to the best administration of an emergency situation, such as a hurricane, or a terrorist attack; the efforts are generally undertaken by the federal institution. Amy Donahue and Philip Joyce (2001) attempt a definition and argue that the "implementation of disaster policy is the province of a public administrative function known as emergency management, the modern approach to which involves a multidimensional effort to reduce the threat of the occurrence and the magnitude of disasters and to prepare for, respond to, and recover from those that do occur."

The necessity for emergency management materializes from a local event which creates extraordinary consequences with which the community is unable to cope on its own. In other words, the necessity for emergency management is "triggered when hazards, such as a flood, train derailments, or industrial accidents, interact with vulnerabilities -- physical, social, economic and environmental conditions -- that make a community susceptible to hazards" (Henstra, 2010).

Before continuing with the discussion on emergency management, it is necessary to identify and explain several concepts related to the management of emergency. These concepts are briefly described below:

Organizational accountability -- The degree to which public and private institutions will assume responsibility and accountability in the management of the emerged crisis.

Citizen participation -- the degree to which the citizens in an affected community become involved in the management and resolution of the crisis.

Victim perspective -- the opinion over the management of a crisis situation as felt by the person affected by the disaster; it is generally subjective and can vary from the deepest sense of gratefulness to the most spiteful reproach of insufficient efforts.

Central government -- the federal agency located in the country's capital and dealing with matters of national importance.

Local governments -- the smaller federal agencies in charge of well-being at a more narrow level.

Preparedness -- the means in which the community has prepared for the disaster and their ability of facing the disaster with minimal damages.

Response -- the means in which the community answers to the disaster.

Like most other techniques, the management of emergency situations has been present within the lives of individuals since early ages, but has not been recognized. European history for instance reveals numerous instances in which the authorities managed disasters, such as the Great Fire of London (1666) or the Black Death (one of the largest and most deadly pandemics -- it manifested in Europe between 1348 and 1350). In the immediate aftermath of the disasters, the central authorities developed and implemented new legislations. In England for instance, insurance companies were forced to better insure fires and to compensate the insurance holders for the losses they had sustained during the fires. In Italy, the authorities focused on increasing the levels of sanitation as a means of avoiding illnesses.

In 1803, a fire broke out in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, leading to the loss of 132 buildings. The United States Congress issued the first law of emergency management by which it stated that all federal resources were available and usable in situations of national disasters. In a context of ongoing fires in the region, as well as other national disasters, the Congress further developed its approach of emergency management. Between 1803 and 1950, it had issued an estimated 128 acts regulating emergency management.

One of these regulations offered a new role of the Red Cross in disaster relief. Another was the increase of the people's access to federal loans in order to gain access to finances to rebuild the facilities affected by the disaster, such as housing facilities or infrastructure facilities (roads, bridges and so on). At the same time, federal efforts were being made to stimulate the public to become more involved in the resolution and management of disasters (Canton, 2007).

Throughout the years, emergency management has taken various forms and has evolved from an ad-hoc group to a solid, nationwide organization trained in the field of emergency management. The modern day emergency management tools and techniques embody the years of mistakes and the multitude of lessons learnt. They also incorporate the developments which have been made in the civil, political or technological societies, such as international aid or IT support.

The contemporaneous academicians identify four pivotal functions of emergency management -- mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery (Donahue and Joyce). Each of the functions is characterized… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Evaluating and Explaining Organizational Accountability in Emergency Management of Typhoon Morakot a Citizens Perspective."  Essaytown.com.  April 17, 2010.  Accessed July 16, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/evaluating-explaining-organizational/264074.