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Hurricane Katrina's Link to the Government

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Hurricane Katrina was a tropical hurricane that struck the United States in 2005. It was one of the worst and most remembered natural disasters in the history of the United States. In the video ‘The Storm’, there are many political actors and organizations shown, and they all have similar or different interests. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wanted to help the people after the storm, so they brought supplies to places that were hit the hardest. However, according to the narrator, former FEMA director, Michael Brown “…misled the public to quell panic” (Frontline, 2005, 11:42). Brown tried to hide the reality of the situation by telling people everything was okay. The Louisiana National Guard was supposedly not on the ground when people needed help. The Chief of the National Guard, Lieutenant General Steven Blum, believed the failure of communication systems lost lives. He states, “If any lives were lost because people were late getting there, it’s because the people couldn’t call 911 and tell them where they were. That’s communications” (Frontline, 2005, 7:03). New Orleans’ Mayor, Ray Nagin, knew people needed help. He was responsible for stocking shelters and providing evacuation vehicles. He also tried to tell people that New Orleans needed help, despite President George Bush suggesting that they were okay.

Based off of what I saw in the video, the inner workings of the government institutions were very scattered. None of the institutions or political figures were in sync at all. They became overwhelmed, so they were unable to keep the public calm. Their unpreparedness caused lives to be lost and made the overall impact of Hurricane Katrina to be worse.

According to Live Science contributor, Kim Ann Zimmerman, “An estimated 1,833 people died in the hurricane and the flooding that followed in late August 2005…” (Zimmerman, 2015). The video also states, “Why didn’t New Orleans evacuate sooner? Why were so many people left behind?…Where was the National Guard? Where was the Army? Where was FEMA?” (Frontline, 2005, 2:28). The video then goes on to say, “Local and state officials failed to plan” (Frontline, 2005, 3:20). The fact that none of these organizations were where they were needed is a good example of their unpreparedness. There were quite obviously some major issues within the government.

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According to, “During the Federal response to Katrina, four critical flaws in our national preparedness became evident: Our processes for unified management of the national response; command and control structures within the Federal government; knowledge of our preparedness plans; and regional planning and coordination” (Chapter Five: Lessons Learned, n.d.). This is a good explanation of how these government institutions were unprepared, as well as flawed.

There are a few aspects of this situation that are representative of U.S. political culture. For example, the textbook, American Government: Power and Purpose, states, “One compelling reason governments do what they do is that they respond to what people want” (Lowi, Ginsberg, Shepsle, Ansolabehere, 2019, p. 7). This is represented through FEMA director, Michael Brown, telling the public that there was no reason to panic when he knew that was not the truth. The textbook also states, “Political outcomes are the products of individual preferences, institutional procedures, and collective action” (Lowi, et al., 2019, p. 7). Since the actions of these political leaders were done poorly and in an untimely manner, the people ended up wanting new leaders. This is similar to people wanting a new president in 2020 because of poor decisions made by Donald Trump.

As far as the community goes, Hurricane Katrina impacted the community in quite a few ways. Of course there were the main impacts, deaths, loss of homes, injuries, and more. According to the book, Environmental Public Health Impacts of Disasters, “Prior to the storm, the city was one of the largest ports in the country” (Goldman and Coussens, 2007, p. 19). This meant that the community was losing money, which had a negative impact on the economy. Hurricane Katrina was a very big disaster with very big impacts. It caused great unrest among the people affected, and changed the community forever. If the government organizations and political leaders had been more prepared, most of the issues that occurred could have possibly been avoided.


  1. Goldman, L., & Coussens, C. (2007). Environmental public health impacts of disasters: Hurricane Katrina: Workshop summary. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.
  2. Lowi, T., Ginsberg, B., Shepsle, K., Ansolabehere, S. (2019). American Government: Power and Purpose (Core 15th Edition). W. W. Norton & Company.
  3. Smith, Martin. Frontline: “The Storm.” PBS. November 22, 2005. Retrieved November 19, 2020, from
  4. Zimmermann, K. (2015, August 27). Hurricane Katrina: Facts, Damage & Aftermath. Retrieved November 19, 2020, from
  5. (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2020, from

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Hurricane Katrina’s Link to the Government. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 29, 2023, from
“Hurricane Katrina’s Link to the Government.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
Hurricane Katrina’s Link to the Government. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Jan. 2023].
Hurricane Katrina’s Link to the Government [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2023 Jan 29]. Available from:
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