Compare and Contrast Critical Incident Response SEC/471
Compare and contrast the response to Hurricane Katrina (2005) versus the response to the World Trade Center on 9/11 (2001).
Write a 700- to 1,050- word paper comparing the two incidents with consideration for the questions listed below.
Consider the following questions:
How was critical infrastructure affected?
Who were the first responders on the scene and what additional personnel/agencies were called to assist?
What was the command structure utilized during the response?
Was the area/nation prepared for this critical incident?
Compare and Contrast Critical Incident Response SEC/471
Disaster can be described as calamitous event that severely disrupts the functionality of a nation by causing material, economic, environmental and human losses. It can be caused by natural calamities or human beings. For instance, World Trade Center (WTC) attack on 9/11/2001 was caused by human beings while hurricane Katrina was caused by nature. WTC attack also called 9/11 took place in 2001. The attack was orchestrated by 19 al-Qaeda militants who hijacked four passenger airliners. Two of the airliners were directed into WTC towers in NYC, the third airliner was hit the pentagon outside Washington D.C while the fourth one crashed in Pennsylvania. The attack resulted in the death of over 3000 people including over 400 firefighters and police officers. There was also destruction of property and infrastructure worth over 10 million dollars (Flood 2011).
Hurricane Katrina, that hit Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, took place in August 2005. It was termed as the most destructive and largest natural disaster that USA had ever experienced. More than one million people were affected with 250, 000 homes being destroyed. Infrastructure worth millions was also destroyed (Zimmermann, 2015). Despite the fact that some disasters are beyond control, the level of preparedness and response towards a disaster greatly contributes to the level of impact experienced. The subsequent sections describe the two disasters, hurricane Katrina and WTC, together with a description of the nation’s level of preparedness and response during each of them.
World Trade Center (WTC) Attack on 9/11/2001
At around 8:45 am on 11th September 2001, a hijacked airliner crashed into northern tower of WTC building in New York City. Fifteen minutes later (9:03 am), a second airliner crashed into the northern tower. The third hijacked plane crashed into pentagon in Washington DC while the last one crashed in Pennsylvania. Later, the southern and northern towers collapsed trapping thousands of people including firefighters and police officers. A total of 2,823 people were killed in the four plane crashes. Apart from deaths, there was massive destruction of critical infrastructure. The critical infrastructures affected by the attack include communications, transport, energy, banking and finance, government etc. Damage to the communication infrastructure next to the WTC made coordination of rescue process difficult for the government. The transport system was also affected due to temporary suspension of train and vehicle border crossings. Air traffic was also redirected to Canada. Emergency power production was threatened due to a ban on diesel fuel delivery in NYC. The vulnerabilities caused by power outage threatened to shut down communication systems and internet access. Poor communication systems and power outages also rendered some bank transactions non-functional.
The attack is considered the most diabolical and horrific crime on USA soil. The first responders on the ground were NYPD (New York Police Department), OEM (Office of Emergency Management), PAPD (Port Authority Police Department), and FDNY (Fire Department of New York). Later, Doctors, Emergency technicians, and maritime industry among others, joined the rescue team (Flood 2011). WTC attack is termed as the most difficult response for fire fighters in the history of fire services. Though the government and other agencies tried to rescue victims, the rescue process was limited by lack of preparedness and breakdown in communication. Despite OEM being responsible for controlling NYPD and FDYN responses to disastrous events, its systems still had flaws. For instance, in July, the mayor, in charge of OEM, proposed designation incident commanders responsible for managing NYC’s response to emergencies. However, by September 11th, the designation had not taken place and so coordination of response between NYPD and FDNY still had problems. This shows that at the time of attack the nation was still reluctant in implementing disaster prevention and recovery measures (“Heroism and Horror” n.d).
Hurricane Katrina 2005
The early morning Hurricane Katrina started as a category 3 hurricane that was characterized by winds of 100 to 140 miles/hour and increased gradually. The storm, especially its aftermath cause a lot of damage. Levee breaches caused great flooding thus causing displacement. It is believed that the damage caused by the hurricane is more than 100 billion dollars. Katrina can be characterized by the comprehensive collapse of critical infrastructure. In fact, it is believed to be the most wide spread and severe infrastructure collapse ever experienced in US since the World War II. Just as in WTC attack, damaged critical infrastructure include communications, medical and public health services, gas and oil industry, energy etc. Communications is the most affected critical infrastructure. The storm did not just degrade communication systems but it completely destroyed them. It caused power outages that made most of the offices to run on generators. This in turn shut down most radio stations thus cutting on communication. The flooding in Orleans led to serious health conditions among residents thus needing urgent medical attention. Since the massive public health infrastructures in the area had been destroyed, medical emergency team was forced to mobilize federal public health facilities in order to offer medical care to the people of Louisiana. Oil and gas production was also greatly affected. Due to the hurricane, refineries in the gulf were destroyed causing shut down of 8% of total US refinery. This interruption affected gas and oil prices.
Compared to WTC attack, the response and coordination during Hurricane Katrina was better. This is because the incident command system had been introduced after WTC attack (Carwile 2005). This system enables coordinated response to disaster. Just as in WTC attack, the first responders in Katrina were fire fighters, state police and emergency medical team among others (Osofsky et al 2011). Other agencies and nations such as Canada also came in to help. Though there was some bit of improvement in communication compared to the 2001 WTC attack, the nation was still not fully prepared for the hurricane. In fact, many people blamed the government for being slow in response.
WTC attack and Hurricane Katrina are two disastrous
events that took place in US after World War II. The impacts, especially those
of Katrina were severe. Some of the critical infrastructure affected by the two
disasters were communications, oil and gas, energy and medical services. The
government also proved not adequately prepared for any of the catastrophes.
This shows that there is more that the government needs to do in preparation
for such disastrous events.
Zimmermann, K., A. (2015). Hurricane Katrina: Facts, Damage & Aftermath. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/22522-hurricane-katrina-facts.html
Osofsky, H., J., Osofsky, J., D., Arey, J., Kronenberg, M., E., & Hansel, T. (2011). Hurricane Katrina’s first responders: the struggle to protect and serve in the aftermath of the disaster. Disaster Med Public Health Prep, 2, 9-14.
Flood, J. (2011). First Responses. Retrieved from http://nymag.com/news/9-11/10th- anniversary/first-responses/
“Heroism and Horror” (n.d). Retrieved from http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report_Ch9.htm
Carwile, W. (2005). Unified Command and the State-Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi. Retrieved from https://www.hsaj.org/articles/689