Evolution Of Emergency Management

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Emergency management describes the process of preparing for disasters, responding to their occurrence and putting in place both structural and nonstructural measures to mitigate against them. Emergency management has come a long way in terms of evolution in the United States of America. In terms of evolution, there have been a number of changes with evidence in shift from state to federal and local involvement in disaster management. This paper will thus discuss the evolution of emergency management as well as the lessons that have come as a result of this evolution.

The evolution can be traced back to the biblical times, Moses himself tried to manage floods by splitting the Red Sea (George et al, p. 1). In the United
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Hurricane Diane occurred in 1955 and was preceded by Hurricane Audrey in 1957 which had the most severe impact of the three Hurricanes (George et al, p. 4). Impromptu legislation by the Congress always followed these events with the aim of providing immediate response to the affected areas. During this period, the emergency response was state centric in nature. It was the absolute function of the state.

The occurrence of the Hebgen Tsunami that hit a magnitude of 7.3 on the Ritcher scale proved that, apart from California, Montana as well as other states were vulnerable to Earthquake hazard events. In addition, the adverse consequences of Hurricane Donna and Hurricane Carla prompted Kennedy’s relatively new government to alter their strategy against natural disasters. For example, the Office of Emergency Preparedness was born in the Whitehouse. The end objective of this office was to address natural disasters. This office was a state agency that would allow it to deal with disaster events in a more rational manner. This was not the case however, as the 1960s witnessed the renaissance of the most devastating natural disaster events; from the
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The creation of DHS to some extent undermined the roles and responsibilities of FEMA. The independence of FEMA was undermined, thus explaining the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. FEMA lacked funds and resources to undertake her roles and responsibilities of Emergency Management (George et al, p.19). As a result, over 1,800 lives were lost and tens of thousands were displaced. Restoring FEMA’s independence took center stage during Obama’s administration; however, DHS claimed, FEMA was its fundamental organ (George et al, p. 24). FEMA did not play any role during the Boston Bombings of 2013 emergency response (George et al, p.29). However, it would be naïve to assume that FEMA and DHS are today not up to their task of preparedness and response to emergencies despite the obstacles. It is important to point out that, the evolution has been met with a number of challenges. In as much as it has seen an increase in the number of actors, the conflicts within has affected the end result of emergency response. The DHS and FEMA for example, these two entities and their competition for authority meant that there was an overall lack of preparedness to counter Hurricane Sandy. Both entities lost sight to their mandate and engaged in competition for

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