Geography

Hazard and vulnerability

In any Hazard and Vulnerability Analysis, if rushed, can miss out on some important facts. Primarily amongst them is considering the concept ofStorm Surge: a dome of wind driven water that crosses the coastline just ahead of, and to the right of, the storm’s eye. Due to a shallow, gradually sloping bottom that extends well offshore from the coastline, storm surge values will be higher for the county than indicated in the Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale. Thus, a rushed analysis might mess up with this basic information of such a report, and so can definitely be a weak point.
The assumption that ‘natural’ disasters are inherently and predominantly natural phenomena has tended to exclude the social sciences from consideration in much of the spending that is done in disaster preparedness. This is despite the fact that over the last twenty years a considerable literature on disasters has emerged from human geography, sociology, anthropology and (to a lesser extent) economics. For many years, social science has contributed to policy formation for disasters (especially in the Third World) through the activities of many Non-Government Organisations (NGOs). The initial development of vulnerability analysis is then rooted in social science, and in a sense has constituted a political economy of disasters to the analysis of devastating events that are normally associated with natural hazards. At its most simplistic, vulnerability analysis asserts that for there to be a disaster there has to be not only a natural hazard, but also a vulnerable population. Much of the conventional work on disasters has been dominated by ‘hard science’, and has been a product of the prominence that natural phenomena have acquired in the disaster causation process. But this ‘physicalist’ approach is also a result of the social construction of disasters as events that demonstrate the human condition as subordinate to Nature. Within such a framework, there is the inherent danger that people are perceived as victims rather than being part of socio-economic systems that allocate risk differently to various types of people. People therefore often become treated as ‘clients’ in the process of disaster mitigation and preparedness, and as passive onlookers in a process in which science and technology do things to them and for them, rather than with them.
#2 The National Incident Management System (NIMS) establishes standardized incident management protocols and procedures that all responders-Federal, State, and local-should use to conduct and co-ordinate response actions. It sets forth a "core set of doctrine, concepts, principles, terminology and organizational processes to enable effective, efficient, and collaborative incident management at all levels" of government. The NIMS provides a common, flexible framework within which government and private entities at all levels can work together to manage domestic incidents of any magnitude. In March 2004, the Secretary of Homeland Security approved the NIMS and sent a memorandum to officials at all levels of the government asking for continued cooperation and assistance in further developing and implementing the NIMS. The central component of the NIMS is the Incident Command System (ICS). The ICS organisation, the structure and size of which can be tailored to the complexity and size of any given incident, comprises five major functional areas-Command, Planning, Operations, Logistics, and Finance/Administration. This system grew out of the challenges of interagency co-ordination experienced when fighting wildfires in western states. However, considering the destructive effects of hurricanes can have, it would be better if the NIMS is supported by the NRP. NRP is an all-hazards plan that establishes a single, comprehensive framework for managing domestic incidents across all levels of government and across a spectrum of activities that includes prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. It provides the structure and mechanisms for co-ordinating Federal support to State and local incident managers and for exercising Federal authorities and responsibilities incorporating the NIMS structure.
#3 Annually, in conjunction with the states, the Office of Emergency Preparedness should sponsor and co-ordinate a Parish wide exercise of the local government’s emergency management organisation. To enhance the State’s exercise, the OEP Director should develop scenarios based upon expected local impacts of the exercise storm. If local impacts from the exercise storm are deemed less than needed to exercise the full emergency response organisation, than the OEP should independently develop scenarios that would allow for the exercise of all city/parish resources. Moreover, states should co-ordinate disaster preparedness training activities with others in such areas as shelter operations, transportation, hospitals and nursing homes, hurricane evacuation and recovery, etc. The OEP should work in conjunction with all elements of the disaster response organisation to enhance emergency response training. Activities shall include identification of School Board and Dept. Of Health staffs to be trained in shelter management operations, providing educational workshops and seminars to public and private entities, develop and direct committees assembled to address critical issues of emergency response, develop specialised informational brochures directed at select elements of the community, and other activities as may be identified. Apart from this, the preparation and dissemination of a general public education program in order to attain high public morale, minimize fear and panic and obtain full individual participation in Emergency Preparedness activities and maximum public support of the emergency management plan is necessary. The Administration and Training Officer (ATO) of various states should coordinate and facilitate required family preparedness seminars for City government employees. They should conduct public information programs providing regular reports to the public on Emergency Preparedness activities. The public information programs include news features on television and radio. Public forums, joint presentations, and speaking engagements will also be conducted.
They should annually, assist business and media with publication of disaster preparedness and evacuation information. And when disaster strikes, they should advise the public of developments and procedures for locating emergency services.
#4 The direct lesson learnt from the hurricanes of 2004 was that the Disaster Response Structure came to be revised. Moreover, the concept of unified command over the traditional Unity of command came into being. (Unity of command is the concept by which each person within an organisation reports to one and only one designated person. The purpose of unity of command is to ensure unity of effort under one responsible commander for every objective.) In an occasion of unified command, an application of the Incident Command System is used when there is more than one agency with incident jurisdiction or when incidents cross-political jurisdictions. Agencies work together through the designated members of the Unified Command, often the senior person from agencies and/or disciplines participating in the Unified Command, to establish a common set of objectives and strategies and a single incident action plan.

Back To Top