Damage Caused by Hurricane Katrina

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When the gale force winds and extreme storm surges brought by Hurricane Katrina slammed headlong into the Gulf Coast on August 29th, 2005, the damage caused by the catastrophic weather event was not limited to the swamped buildings of New Orleans and the sunken dreams of its residents. In just over a week's worth of time, Hurricane Katrina swept away the shared sense of trust that the American public placed in its government, and exposed the institutional mismanagement inherent to federal agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Due to communication breakdowns between local, state and federal officials, inefficient deployment of critical resources and equipment, and a startling unwillingness to cooperate for the common cause of public safety, over 1,800 people lost their lives and more than $80 billion in property damage was incurred. The complex chain of events presented within Case Study 3.1, entitled The Katrina Breakdown, demonstrates both the sheer enormity of coping with such a destructive natural disaster, and the gross negligence displayed by the public officials charged with employing the means of disaster management. By comparing the various actions and directives of the "five government officials … who were criticized for their response to the disaster: New Orleans Mayor Ray C. Nagin, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, FEMA Director Michael Brown, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, and President

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