Reformulating the Hazards Mitigation Paradigm Essay

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Scholarly assessments of our nation’s capability to effectively respond to hazards suggest a paradigm shift is needed regarding the future direction of research, policy and tactics for preparing and responding to natural and human-made hazards. This paper will provide a historical overview of our nation’s emergency preparedness and response posture, examine the need to reformulate the existing hazards paradigm into a broader resiliency framework, and suggest roles and responsibilities characteristic of government and community stakeholders in the context of this broadened approach. Mechanisms needed to achieve a successful implementation of this improved strategy will also be examined. Reformulating the Hazards Mitigation Paradigm…show more content…
An effort to centralize federal emergency functions was instituted in 1979 where many separate disaster-related responsibilities were merged into the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA developed an integrated emergency management system, realigning its mission from civil defense into disaster relief, recovery and mitigation programs using an all-hazards approach. Following the terrorist attacks of 2001, FEMA coordinated its activities with the newly formed Office of Homeland Security by joining 22 other federal agencies, programs and offices which became the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2003 (Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2010). Despite efforts to better organize federal response programs, “expectations regarding improved federal response to natural disasters were shattered by FEMA’s poor performance in dealing with hurricanes (Waugh & Tierney, 2007, p.33). While integrating FEMA into DHS was intended to the federal response capability, DHS was found to be plagued by high employee turnover and low morale to the degree Homeland Security had the lowest job-satisfaction rating out of 36 government agencies surveyed; DHS instituted an ineffective and oft misunderstood color-coded threat warning system; DHS’ response to Hurricane Katrina exposed a lack of coordination and leadership; and, the agency’s integration of people, assets and technology into one overarching entity has proved complicated and overwhelming (Fessler, 2008). Such

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