Hurricanes represent a significant problem for emergency managers. As a common natural disaster, emergency managers must be able to deal with the problems associated with them. One important hurricane was Hurricane Gustav. This hurricane struck in the 2008 hurricane season. It is considered a major storm within the study of hurricanes. Emergency managers struggled to deal with the issues associated with its devastation. One important problem involved the evacuation of individuals who lived within the storm’s path. In order to improve emergency management, it is important to study how this problem developed. This may help to improve emergency response for future storms and natural disasters.
Hurricane Gustav occurred over the period of August 25, 2008 to September 4, 2008. The significant length of time occurred because the storm struck countries in the Caribbean and the continental United States. At its strongest, the storm was a Category 4 hurricane. This indicates that the storm had winds averaging 130 to 156 miles per hour. Only Category 5 hurricanes are stronger. The hurricane struck Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and the Southern United States. It particularly hit the Southern United States in the states adjourning the Gulf of Mexico. The costs of the storm ranged between $2 billion and $10 billion U.S. dollars (NASA, 2008).
There were several major challenges during the response of Hurricane Gustav. Obviously, these challenges depended upon individual countries. For instance, Haiti, due to its poverty, suffered greater emergency management challenges. This report will focus on the response in the United States. Within the U.S., the challenges included evacuation, lack of emergency first response, and debris removal. This report will focus on the challenges associated with evacuation. The evacuation response of Hurricane Gustav was more organized and more efficient than the response of Hurricane Katrina. This likely resulted from lessons learned during Hurricane Katrina. A significant lesson involved the necessary of timely evacuation. However, while it was better than in Hurricane Katrina, the evacuation still could have been better in Hurricane Gustav (Eosco, Shaffer and Keim, 2009, p. 1).
Why it is a Problem
Evacuation of New Orleans, Louisiana and surrounding areas has often proven to be challenging. This likely results from the large number of individuals within the communities. The areas of the cities are densely populated. Furthermore, many of the individuals who live within these communities are economically disadvantaged. This creates difficulties for the individuals when finding adequate transportation and the financial funds to evacuate. While the government does provide evacuation in emergencies, it often is not utilized by many in lower socioeconomic communities. The scope and size related to the evacuation of New Orleans is a tremendous one. It is a major city that is located below sea level (Eosco et al, 2009, pp. 1-3).
An unusual problem with regard to the evacuation during Hurricane Gustav revolved around the date of the storm. The storm would take place over a holiday weekend (Labor Day weekend). This is often a popular time for a holiday or vacation for all Americans; this is also true for individuals who work for emergency agencies. As a result, the staffing situation posed a significant risk (Eosco et al, 2009, p. 5).
Why the Issue Needed to be Resolved
The issue needed to be resolved because evidence already indicated that the failure of individuals to evacuate from these communities would result in multiple deaths and injuries. A mandatory evacuation order was given to the communities for Hurricane Gustav. However, it was noted by many that a mandatory evacuation order had also been in place for Hurricane Katrina. It was therefore important to ensure that evacuation did occur.
How to Overcome the Issue
Emergency managers can overcome the reluctance of individuals to evacuate through a series of measures. Firstly, managers should ensure that the community understands the risk associated with the storm. Political leaders and community leaders need to stress the importance of the risk. For Hurricane Gustav, it was noted that the football game of Louisiana State University was changed. While unusual, this was viewed, for the state, as a reason to take the risk seriously (Eosco, 2009, p. 6). It is also crucial that emergency agencies provide assistance to individuals with regard to evacuation. Many individuals need assistance in reaching evacuation routes or buses. Furthermore, an early staging of emergency vehicles is crucial (Eosco, 2009, p. 7).
Hurricane Gustav was a major storm of the 2008 hurricane season. It caused considerable damage for much of the Caribbean and for the Southeastern United States. Evacuation was an important role for emergency managers. Lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina did help with some of these issues. However, there were still concerns associated with this. Much of these concerns revolved around individuals of lower socioeconomic status. As a result, these communities require greater assistance during future emergencies.