I chose Hurricane Katrina as the subject of my case study. Probably my primary reason for the choice was my personal involvement. At the time, I was still working for The Alexandria Fire Department in Northern Virginia. Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) requests starting coming in to Virginia for agencies able to assist int he response effort. The Northern VA Fire Departments started sending down 50 person task forces to assist in providing fire response service to Hancock County Mississippi. We were quartered at Stennis Space Center at one end of the county. We lived in a large tented camp (Camp Buzz) that had been put there to house us. We supplemented some of the few volunteer departments that remained (along with the full time department in Bay St. Louis). So my personal experience there was a little bit of why I chose it. I also posted a video below of storm surge that is quite long, but some pretty interesting footage. It shows buildings getting flooded a ways into the video. I will also post some pictures of my personal experience there. And will detail a bit more about the disaster below.
Hurricane Katrine would be the costliest US Hurricane causing a staggering 108 billion dollars in damage and changing the region for years to come and to some extent today with the changes in population from those displaced. I think it probably positively impacted the ways governments responds to disasters and how they work better together. The 2005 Hurricane Season was to be a busy one and a devastating one. Katrina formed differently than others normally form. This horrific tropical cyclone formed from the combination of a tropical wave, an upper level trough and the mid-level remnants of Tropical Depression Ten. It would make landfall three times in the US, first in Florida and then twice in the Gulf Coast Region. There was a significant loss of Life, approximately 1800 were killed due to the hazards associated with hurricanes. Storm surge and the flooding after the failure of antiquated levee system around New Orleans cause the largest loss of life there. The response of government at all levels was lacking and failure to issue mandatory evacuations early in New Orleans led to a large loss of life. The slow response from the state and federal government and the failure to coordinate resources which is critical were big reasons this response was a failure.
Track of the Hurricane Katrina
New Orleans was the center of most of the news coverage and I thought I would post some pictures from Mississippi, where I was deployed. This area too was devastated, but the loss of life was far less significant. Walking along the Gulf of Mexico, it looked like someone had carpet bombed the entire area as far as the eye could see. The bridge going to Pas Christian was gone, barring a lot of the columns. Portions of one side of the I-10 bridge going into New Orleans were completely gone, leave concrete columns standing only. The power of a major hurricane is amazing. The area we were in had water up to the I-10 bridge overpass, which was about 10 miles inland. I could not imagine losing everything as these people did.
Here is Camp Buzz where we spent some of our time. It was situated on The Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
Here are the FEMA trailers that served as our fire station where I was working out of. We operated out of the Walmart Parking Lot in Waveland, Mississippi. Apparently the initial storm surge height was up to the Walmart lettering over top of the store, putting it somewhere in the twenty foot plus range.
The residents did not like FEMA, or even the mention of them at the time
These were common to find, at least in some form
This greeted us the first day we pulled duty in our station