Politicsare deeply wedded to both the impact and mitigation of many, if notall, major disasters. Political considerations before, during andafter a disaster can determine what agency is deployed, who willdetermine the risk and rank what and whom are the beneficiaries ofthe support, and what mitigation strategies will be employed. In2010, the gulf coast was devastated as a result of an off-shore oilrig explosion which released more than 100m gallons of uncontrollableoil flooding the waters bordering Alabama, Louisiana, Missisipi,Florida and Texas (horizon, 2015).This paper analyses the politicalcomponents involved in the economic, cultural and financial areas ofmitigation which may have contributed negatively or positively to theemergency management process.
Disastermanagement depicts the establishment and formulation of plans andstrategies meant to reduce vulnerability to catastrophes, hazards anddisasters. It is worth noting that emergency management does notentail averting or eliminating disasters. Instead, it aims atestablishing plans to reduce the impact of disasters. In a worldwhere natural calamities are rampant, if nations fail to come up withemergency plans, disasters can lead to deaths, loss of revenue aswell as damage of assets. Emergency management at the federal levelis carried out by FEMA. The agency undertakes the coordination ofactivities in response to disasters that take place in any of theAmerican states. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is onlysupposed to act if the predicament is so immense and disastrous thatit overwhelms the local and state resources available in the statewhere the disaster has occurred. Thus, FEMA should only respond afterthe Governor of the State where the predicament has occurred declaresit a state of emergency (David, 2002). Upon declaration as state ofemergency, the President of the United States of America formallyrequests FEMA to respond.
Roles and responsibility
Asan independent agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency isbestowed upon the responsibility of disaster recovery plans, firepreparedness and overseeing America’s civil defense (Damon, 2010).In addition, through an amendment under weapons of mass destructionact of 1996, FEMA was given the role for carrying out counterterrorism activities (David, 2002).
Ostensibly,all disasters are political. Political influence is a significantfactor that should be considered vital in preparedness, response,recovery and mitigation of disasters. A close scrutiny of the effectsof disaster posits that politics is arguably an integralconsideration. First, disasters affect people. According to thedoctrines of basic emergency management, the extent of a disaster isdetermined by the impact it has on people. In a situation where apredicament occurs in an uninhabited zone, hazard analysts posit thatthe disaster is not hazardous. In this case, disasters involve peopleand any activity that affects people’s lives is political.Moreover, disasters encompass public policies. In many occasions,these policies are formulated in a political arena. In terms ofpolitical accountability therefore, it is worth concluding that FEMAmay often be influenced by political considerations throughformulation of policies and plans. In addition, in an epoch whereterrorism is at its apogee, FEMA cannot act without politicalinfluences. In a way, it is not possible to blame nature overterrorists’ attacks. In such occasions, FEMA has to work togetherwith political leaders such as the U.S President, Senators andGovernors across America. This implies that it is almost impossiblefor FEMA to distance itself from political influence thoughconstitutionally, FEMA is an independent agency.
Politicalinfluence and emergency management
Apparently,there is an awfully close relationship between disasters and politicsin that the impact of a disaster has a significant influence on thepolitical climate of a community or even the entire nation. Disastershave the potential to change public’s perception on the ability andservice being delivered by the political figures. This is alsoevident through the fact that emergency management agencies in mostcountries respond to disasters upon being ordered by politicalleaders. FEMA is a vivid example in that it can only carry out itsresponsibilities after getting orders from President of the UnitedStates whose position is indeed political. Moreover, although thecongress members and state leaders are not directly involved in themanagement of disaster management agencies, they have a significantrole especially in policy formulation and recovery missions. Congressmembers for instance, are usually involved in making federaldeclarations after occurrence of disasters (Gavin, 2012).
Evaluation and analysis
Itis worth noting that politics can have adverse effects on the entireprocesses of disaster management. As evident in the political arena,most politicians are individualistic and usually driven by greed,corruption and personal gains. Thus, political influence caninstigate negative effects in preparedness and recovery missionswithin the context of disaster management. These impacts may rangefrom inconveniences such as prior tours by elected politic leadersbefore the recovery mission begins to major interruptions such asembezzlement of funds meant for disaster management. It is therefore,paramount for states to lessen the political influence on disastermanagement. Emergency managers should thus come up with strategies ofdealing with political influence in disaster situations. Politiciansshould be trained and oriented with the necessary tools forresponding to disasters whenever they strike.
Asnoted earlier, disasters can change people’s perception of theirpolitical leaders. The politician’s concern and the way he or sheresponds to an emergency greatly influence public opinion and theoverall political climate in the affected state or community. Anotable example of how a disaster may alter the public opinion is inthe case of Midwestern City Mayor after the city experienced massiveflooding. Initially, the Mayor was highly acclaimed by the Midwesterncommunity for exercising excellent leadership skills. However, theaftermath of the flooding disaster instigated major recovery problemsand as the problems mounted, the mayor became unpopular and two yearslater, she was not reelected. This example therefore, postulates thatthe way political figures react to disasters greatly influencespublic opinion. Whether the leader becomes more popular and powerfulor unpopular depends on the approaches that the leader uses toaddress the situation at hand.
Gulfcoast oil spill
Sourcescontend that the gulf coast oil spill that occurred on 20thApril 2010 is the most detrimental oil disasters America has everwitnessed .The explosion claimed the lives of eleven people while theestimated oil barrels that leaked in the gulf were 3.19 million.
Aftermillion gallons of oil spilt in the fragile ecosystem of the gulfcoast, it was anticipated that politicians across America would risewith pronouncements condemning, explaining, while others complicatingthe situation further. The notable political impacts here werepolitical moves made by U.S President and the California GovernorAnord Schwarzenegger. First, Obama imposed a curfew on expansion ofoffshore drilling of oil, a policy he had just implemented a fewweeks earlier. Similarly, California Governor brought to a standstillall plans for oil drilling in California (Gavin, 2012). At the sameinstance, other political leaders such as Virginia Governor BobMcDonnell, continued to advocate and call for the expansion ofoffshore drilling in their states.
Itis evident that the country was not economically prepared for thispredicament. This can be exemplified by the fact that the recoveryprocess began 87 days later after the disaster. In fact, thisinstigated the formulation of policies pertaining oil spillpreparedness in 2012. There were no funds set aside to abruptly copewith the predicament. Evident is that there were no monitoringdevices such as underwater robot devices that could detect potentialspills. These could have saved the nation’s billions of revenue.
Theadverse problems posed by gulf oil spill elicited notable culturalchanges in Mexico. BP’s oil spill caused great suffering too thelucrative and thriving tourism sector in Florida. The ecosystem washighly depleted leading to a decrease in the number of touristsvisiting the site. People around the gulf have since been affected asthey no longer benefit from what they perceive as their culturalbiodiversity. Moreover, the seafood sector has also been shut downfollowing the oil spill. The society has thus been negativelyaffected both culturally and economically.
Itis clear that over the last five years since the disaster occurred,the American government has made significant attempts in the gulfrecovery. Sources contend that the government in collaboration withlocal authorities has so far spent an estimated $28 billion torestore the depleted environment in the gulf. In addition, scientistsand environmentalists are working together to ascertain the extent towhich the habitats and the gulf biodiversity was affected .Thisinformation is meant to return these resources to their initialcondition (Gavin, 2012).
Evolvingan emergency management plan
Theinitial steps taken in a disaster situation are paramount. It istherefore vital to draw informed strategies before responding to anydisaster.
Planningis the initial stage and entails identifying the potential risksposed by the disaster at hand. Comprehending the possible outcomes ofthe disaster will help you ascertain the resources required.
Asthe second step in disaster management, organizing involvesfamiliarization with methods ofstabilizing any disaster incidence.Stabilization may include activities such as first aid and protectionof undamaged property.
Training and practice
Trainingencompasses imparting disaster managers with knowledge and skillsregarding the operation and approaches that should be applieddepending on the type and extent of a disaster. Perfection of skillsin this stage is usually enhanced through simulations.
Evaluationis a joint process that is usually arrived at amicably by differentstakeholders of disaster management agencies. It entails a closescrutiny of the disaster so as to determine the degree of theoutcome. After evaluation, the resources to be used are easilyidentifiable.
Thisis final stage in an emergency management plan and it involvesrepetition of all the above mentioned procedure for the sole purposeof determining the authenticity of the approaches and how effectivelythe situation can be approached.
Futureof emergency management
Itis evident that due to tremendous climate change in the 21stcentury, the globe is experiencing immense and frequent disasterssuch as flooding, earthquakes, tornadoes among other predicament.Emergency management should therefore be considered vital by worldleaders.
Notably,challenges in emergency management include limited resources,negative political influence as well as lack of public education ondisaster preparedness. Due to lack of communication between thepublic and disaster managers, the masses are usually not aware ofwhat steps to take in case they are confronted by a disaster. Futureemergency management should ensure that this gap is closed so as tosalvage more lives whenever a disaster occurs.
Disastermanagement directors are currently engaging with the government,private sector and the citizens to design and formulate applicableresponse strategies that have not been used before. This thereforeimplies that disaster management holds an awfully promising futurewith the managers implementing policies that are dedicated towardsreducing the impacts of disasters.
Itis evident that over the years, political considerations havecontinually influenced the way disasters have always been managed.Politics may have either positive or negative consequences on the waydisasters may be handled. As asserted in the paper, the degree of adisaster is analyzed in terms of the impact it has on people. If adisaster hits a region that is not occupied by people then disastermanagers argue that the disaster is not hazardous. This implies thatdisasters are political in nature simply because they affect peopleand people are political in nature. The most important step thatshould be taken in regards to disaster management and politicalinfluence is for the emergency managers to minimize the degree ofconsultations with politicians. However, there should be a closerelationship between the two parties. Politicians on the other handshould not make politically motivated moves in an event that adisaster occurs.
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Francis,C.,Linda,K.(2010).Comprehensiveguide to emergency preparedness and disaster recovery.Association of college and Research library press.
Gavin,S. (2012).Planningfor post disaster recovery: A review of the united states disaster assistance framework.Island press.