Emergency Logistics Issues Affecting the Response to Katrina: A Synthesis and Preliminary Suggestions for Improvement

Extreme events pose serious logistical challenges to emergency and aid organizations active in preparation, response, and recovery operations, because the disturbances they produce have the potential to turn normal conditions suddenly into chaos. Under these conditions, delivering critical supplies (e.g., food, water, medical supplies) becomes an extremely difficult task because of the severe damage to the physical and virtual infrastructure and the limited or nonexistent transportation capacity. In this context, the recovery process is made more difficult by the prevailing lack of knowledge about the nature and challenges of emergency supply chains. As a result, the design of reliable emergency logistics systems is hampered by lack of knowledge about how formal and informal (emergent) supply chains operate and interact; methods to analyze and coordinate the flows of priority and nonpriority goods; and, in general, scientific methods to analyze logistics systems under extreme conditions. This paper describes the key logistical issues that plagued the response to Hurricane Katrina. The logistical failures following Katrina, which in August 2005 devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast, provide an example of the need to improve the efficiency of supply chains to the site of an extreme event. The paper is based on public accounts of the event and interviews conducted during a number of field visits to the Katrina-affected area in the aftermath of the event, as part of a research project funded by the National Science Foundation.


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  • Accession Number: 01046161
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 9780309104494
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Apr 18 2007 7:18AM