Crime and Recovery from Hurricane Katrina
Crimeand Recovery from Hurricane Katrina
Crimeand Recovery from Hurricane Katrina
Afterthe devastating experience of Hurricane Katrina, there was massiveloss of lives and destruction of property. However, the human effectof the disaster was accompanied by high crime rates that marked theaftermath. The aftermath was marked by a lot of looting, killing ofrescuers and rape. While some reports of these cases of crimes wereexaggerated, many of them occurred and were highlighted by somefactual news as well as police confirmations. This paper seeks toexplore the impacts of the crime rates on the efforts of recovery aswell as the solutions to the problem. Moreover, this paper seeks toknow whether the recovery would have been easier is there was nocrime in the aftermath of the disaster.
Impactof the Crime
Crimeon the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster led to furtherlosses of property that could be salvaged from the wreckage. This ledto higher impact on the economic status of the people whoseproperties were destroyed by the hurricane. The remains of thefactories and tangible assets of people and companies that were to berenovated were looted instead of acting as salvage property forowners. In addition, looting of shops and trade property led tofurther losses to business owners who expected to sell salvage stockor renovate for resale (FBI, 2009). This impact also led to thedestruction of property through crime-related breakages.
Thecriminal activity also made it riskier for rescuers and volunteers toexecute their rescue mission effectively. This discouraged those whowere involved in rescue operations as they feared for their lives inaddition to the risk of working in the devastated terrain. It wasreported that criminals used all means possible to prevent rescuersfrom accessing areas that they deemed to be rich in loot (Dwyer &Drew, 2005). They were reported to have shot at rescue helicoptersand shooting the police as well as survivors. Despite having thesereports not substantiated by the policing authorities, it shows howaggressive the criminals were. The impact of these reports and crimefacts was a negative motivation to rescuers and volunteers (Dwyer &Drew, 2005).
Dueto the crime, a longer time was taken for essential supplies from thegovernment to reach genuine survivors. This led to extended sufferingand riskier health situations to survivors who could have beenassisted more efficiently (Adams, 2013). Crime rate during theaftermath of the Hurricane Katrina also involved looting by officersand survivors. Rescuers were accused of misappropriating suppliesthat were meant to reach the survivors. This was reported by themedia after instances of actual looting were reported andconfirmations of unassisted survivors in some locations of theaffected regions.
Theimpact of the crime led to self defense by homeowners, who decided tobe armed to defend themselves. Consequently, the level of crimes ledto the formation of counter defense vigilante groups that targetedevacuees and survivors. The situation also led to unrests with highreports of unruly violent situations (Adams, 2013). Moreover, aspeople were evacuating from the affected regions, some policeofficers also departed their jobs and used response cars to escape.This led to further unrest and state of lawlessness that added chaosto law enforcement. Due to the increasing levels of crime, someregions were unsafe for living or carrying out rescue missions, anelement that hampered efforts of recuing survivors.
Toquell the situation, the government authorities in charge of securitymade steps to increase the number of security agents in the affectedareas. The government also directed that some security officers thatwere involved in the rescue operations be turned to fight the risinginsecurity. This led to higher presence of the law enforcers in theaffected regions which reduced the levels of reported crime rates(FBI, 2009). However, despite the presence of the security agents andofficers, looting was still rampant and still hampered the rescuemissions.
Inaddition, the authorities should have involved optimum control overthe media coverage of the situation to avoid creation of panic mood.There was a lot of exaggeration of the crime level by the media, somewho reported some events that were in existent. Such excessive andwrong reporting created panic that bared people and rescueorganizations from volunteering for rescue missions (Adams, 2013).Moreover, the government should have taken further control over thesituation in the rescue centers especially where survivors weregathered to avoid crimes that were reported such as rape and fights.
Therecovery from the Hurricane Katrina disaster would have been easierif there were no criminal acts in the affected regions. This isbecause the criminal impact of the acts involved in the aftermath ofthe disaster made the recovery process more complex to execute. Thereare three main ways that the recovery process could have been easierfor the rescuer and survivors.
Themanpower for the rescue and recovery process could have been more innumber compared to those that were involved. This is because morevolunteers would have joined the rescue teams if they had not fearedfor their lives. The number that was involved was low due to theexaggerated reports of crime and looting, which painted the situationas risky. In addition, some of the police officers that were involvedin the operations were later diverted to focus on security (FBI,2009). By August 31, over 1500 rescue police officers were ordered toleave rescue operations and focus their attention to control lootingand insecurity.
Secondly,officers in the rescue operations would have had better and easieraccess to survivors in the affected regions. This would have led totimely respond to the humanitarian situation that marked theaftermath of the situation. In addition, they would feel safe tosearch for survivors at any location without fearing for theirsafety. The situation on the ground led to declaration of martial lawwhich was not a good environment for rescue operations (Adams, 2013).
Finally,if there was no criminal nature of the situation, officers in theoperations would have been more motivated to engage in the operations(Dwyer & Drew, 2005). The environment in the affected towns wasalso unsafe for volunteers to be involved in especially withincreased crime despite the heavy military presence. This disruptedthe involvement of the National Guard troops whose availability andreadiness was questionable.
Asthe losses from Hurricane Katrina was being counted in terms ofproperty and life loss, increase in crime levels during the aftermathled to further loss of property and lives. In addition, the impact ofthe crime led to diversion of efforts from the primary goal ofrescuing survivors in time to handling criminal cases and quellinglooting and unrests. To solve such situations, the government neededmore numbers of security officers and media control. This is becauserescue and recovery from the Hurricane Katrina would have been easierif there were no crime impacts.
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